Some homeowners apply masking or duct tape to their windows in preparation for a hurricane. The fact is, tape will do nothing to help preserve your windows or protect your home. It’s simply a waste of time that could have been better spent doing other things in preparation for the hurricane’s arrival.
Unlike older windows made of plate glass, modern day windows (or at least as of the last 40 years) are much safer with respect to shattering into sharp pieces. Windows today are made with safety glass. The most common type of safety glass is where the glass is coated in clear acrylic or plastic that holds the pieces together should the window get struck with an object. The glass still shatters, but remains trapped between the plastic coatings. In addition, the glass breaks into small round pieces that do not have any sharp edges. Applying tape to this type of window is of no benefit.
Very old homes that still have some of their original windows could be made of non-safety glass, but this would be extremely rare. These types of windows have no plastic coating and when they break they do create large and very sharp fragments. However, applying tape to these windows will still not increase their strength, nor would it reduce the number of fragments produced should the window break. The glass is simply too heavy and will easily break away from the tape.
Tape in no way strengthens the windows either. It’s simply too flimsy. I suppose one could apply multiple layers of duct tape, but at that point, it would be much better off using wood to block off the windows instead.
Plywood can offer pretty good protection, and it usually one of the first items to run out of stock in the days leading up to the hurricanes arrival. It will stop small airborne debris from damaging the windows, increase the likelihood the window will remain intact throughout the storm and help stop the wind and rain from entering your house. But against the full fury of the wind, the plywood can act like a sail and become an airborne missile causing further damage, so make sure it is well secured with plenty of screws or nails.
There are some new products on the market that are also relatively inexpensive. Some of them include wire mesh gates that cover the window and film covers. Although they have been greatly improved upon, they too have their limitations and do not offer the best protection during a hurricane.
The best way to secure your windows during a hurricane is to install specifically designed hurricane shutters. There are many different types, colors, and styles to choose from. Some are motorized and roll down with the push of a button while others have to be manually put in place and removed. In either case, these shutters will provide the best protection against wind and debris generated by a hurricane. Unfortunately, this is by far the most expensive solution that not everyone can afford.
The good thing is, your home value will most likely increased and make it more appealing to potential buyers should you decide to sell.