Some homeowners apply masking or duct tape to their windows in preparation for a hurricane. The theory being, the tape will prevent the windows from breaking. The fact is, tape will do nothing to help preserve your windows or protect your home. There are far better things to spend your time on when preparing for a hurricane.
Unlike older windows made of plate glass, modern windows are much safer with respect to shattering into sharp pieces. They are also much stronger.
Most windows are 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, much like the windshield on a car. The glass also breaks into small round pieces that do not have any sharp edges. Applying tape to these types of window offers no additional benefit.
Tape in no way strengthens the windows either. It’s simply too flimsy. I suppose one could apply multiple layers of duct tape, but there are much better solutions for protecting the windows. Not to mention, removing the tape after the storm has passed would be one heck of a chore.
There are high-impact windows that can offer some resiliency. Pella offers a window with a strong polymer sandwiched between two sheets of glass. This strengthens the window such that it can withstand a wood 2×4 impact at 50 feet per second, or 34 mph. Many manufacturers offer similar solutions.
But aside from bullet proof glass, I’m not sure there is any glass window that can withstand the fury of a hurricane. Covering the window is often the best solution, if time permits and resources can be found.
Plywood can offer pretty good protection, and it’s usually one of the first items to run out of stock in the days leading up to a hurricane’s 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, plywood can act like a sail and become an airborne missile causing further damage, so make sure it is secured with plenty of screws or nails.
Metals bars are another solution one reader mentioned, but I suspect no one wants to live in a jail house.
If you’ve got some extra cash, you can have hurricane shutters installed. 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.