Photo of hurricane Fran - 1999

Florida Hurriguard Storm Panels

Economical Polycarbonate Storm Panels for the DIY'er

Photo of hurricane Fran - 1999
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Panel and Anchor Installation Notes
As the homeowner, nobody can dictate to you (at least not yet) how to install your storm panels. If you believe that the methods described here are adequate, you are entitled to follow them. However, if you believe that your exposure (or some other reason) compels you to replicate the methods used during certification testing then you must follow the procedures outlined in the testing documentation (available on our Products/Pricing page) precisely for the best possible protection. I chose not to do so for my own installation based on my knowledge of the wind zone I was in, the surrounding structures near my home, my distance from the open ocean and asthetic considerations. I chose to use female flush-mounted steel anchors because of their high pull-out rating and the ability to conceal them when the panels were not mounted. In addition, the bolts I used have a larger head than the wingnuts used during the testing and will have less of a tendency to be pulled through the panel under extreme conditions. Such is the nature of the "Do-it-Yourselfer". But, let me finish this thought by saying that I do not profess to be an expert on the mounting of hurricane panels, nor do I know if there is such a thing. The information provided here is to assist you in making an informed decision on what installation technique might work well for your situation. I accept no responsibility or liability for any aspect of your storm panel installation or future consequences that may arise out of your use of the products or information provided here. The discussion that follows describes my experience attaching Gallina storm panels to my own home. In the final analysis, doing something is usually better than doing nothing.

With that out of the way, there are several ways of effectively attaching storm panels to your home. The method you choose depends on your own evaluation of the difficulty of performing the tasks combined with your economic and asthetic concerns. In any case, in my opinion, the "best" method, with all things considered, involves the installation of permanent anchors around the openings to be protected. My reasoning for this is that they can be covered so as to not detract from the appearance of the home when the panels are not mounted and they make the installation of the panel a breeze when you need to mount them. Put another way, the time you invest (when you are not pressed) installing the anchors is repaid by making it easy to mount the panels when you may be sorely pressed for time. However, you may decide, for a variety of reasons, that your location or structure doesn't warrant that kind of effort and you might decide to use either PlyLox spring loaded clips or 3M Dual Lock adhesive-backed reusable attachment devices (be sure to use the high-temperature versions, though). Only you can decide what method is best for your particular structure and its location. It also may be necessary for you to discuss your preparation plans with your local building authorities if you deem it necessary. I know of no such authority that interferes with a homeowner's process of mounting plywood in advance of a storm, and this is no different, but anything is possible these days when discussing bureacratic meddling.

For my own home, I chose to install 2-1/2" stainless steel female flush-mounted anchors (which is one of the methods we currently promote and offer). (Note that these anchors have been superseded by 2-5/8" and 3-1/4" versions.) There are cheaper anchors out there, but these won't rust, they look decent when the panel isn't mounted and even include a nylon decorative screw to cover the hole. They are also suitable for use in masonry. The 2-5/8" length will suffice for almost all types of exterior trim - the exception being stucco applied over wood. In that case a 3-1/4" anchor would be needed. Longer versions are also available for some unique applications. The other type of anchor is a "male" anchor that has a threaded rod that protrudes about 1-1/2" from the trim and can be covered by a white rubber cap when the panels are not mounted. I don't particularly like the look of these so I went with what I perceived to be the more elegant and attractive solution.

The process of installing the anchors is a simple enough exercise and involves only the use of an electric drill and other standard handyman tools. In deciding just where to place the anchors I tried to strike a balance between the spacing that the manufacturer used during their official testing (14") and a "reasonable" amount for the particular panel involved. I first considered the longest panel edge and placed my corner anchors no more that 5" from the panel corners. Then I divided the remaining space between the corner anchors into whatever equal spacing was roughly 14" apart. Sometimes it worked out that the spacing needed to be 12" and other times it worked out that 15" worked well. For the short edge, I often ended up going 10" in from the corner and then splitting the remainder. It just seemed to me that having two anchors installed real close to each other at the corners was "overkill". After deciding on the spacing for the anchors, my technique was to mark the anchor locations on the panel (on the protective peel-off film applied at the factory) with a magic marker. Then, I put the panel up temporarily using a couple of long screws at the upper corners. Once the panel was held in place I drilled small (1/8") "locator" holes through the panel and into the house through each of the magic marker marks. Then I'd take the panel down, drill the anchor holes with the combo drill bit, squirt a little caulk in the hole, screw the anchor in and wipe off the excess caulk that squeezed out of the hole. When it comes to placing the final holes in the panel I've always found that trying to drill a large hole in thin material in an exact location was difficult because the drill bit tends to "grab" and "walk" suddenly. In order to ensure that the holes in the panels lined up properly with the anchor locations, I enlarged the "locator" holes with a rotary tool (i.e. Dremel or RotoZip) with a tapered grinding bit and made them a little bigger than the 1/4" anchor bolt threads.

When it comes to these anchors - it is not a test. Just as there is no "perfectly right" answer, there is no "wrong" answer, but the closer you keep to the 14" standard, the more assurance you'll have that you're doing it the way the manufacturer suggests for optimal protection. At first glance that spacing may seem excessively close, but it is important to understand that a hurricane isn't just a straight-line wind. It includes swirling and gusting winds that push and pull on the panels. (Consider what holds up a 200 ton airplane to understand the force of these pressure gradients). It is absolutely essential that proper thought be given to this pulling force and, that whatever anchors you choose, they are anchored solidly into the framing studs of your home. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what is "reasonable" for each of your windows. For more information (from an independent source) on anchoring systems for various construction methods, please see this page.

While we do offer lead expansion anchors for use in masonry, one should be aware of a potential concern about them when used for anchoring plastic sheets to a structure. They might be a good (i.e. cheaper) alternative for those with concret block homes that might NOT be filled with concrete during construction (where a long threaded anchor might be trying to grab in air). I am, however, a bit concerned about whether or not the average DIY'er has the skills to make sure these expansion anchors are properly "set" during their installation. After being "set" these expansion anchors can be very effective when tightened against a metal bearing surface as the "wedge" at the back will be drawn further and further into the lead "sleeve" expanding against the installation hole until it is held extremely tightly in the hole. This essentially means that they will work very well for anchoring either our aluminum channels or our aluminum attachment brackets to concrete slabs or sills. They may not be quite so effective to anchor plastic to a masonry structure, especially if the person "setting" the anchors doesn't do so pretty aggressively. After being "set" if the securing bolt is overtightened in an attempt to try to cause the anchor to expand more, the plastic will likely just crush long before that happens. The result of this is that unless installed properly (and with appropriate aggression) these anchors might be fairly easy to pull out and I'd recommend against using them to anchor the polycarbonate sheets to a structure unless other methods are just impossible to use.

At any rate, my approach was to install these anchors on two windows a day (which typically took 2-3 hours) and I finished the project in an unhurried fashion in under 2 weeks. Once the anchors are installed, the task of actually mounting the panel(s) in anticipation of a storm is very easy. My largest panel has 20 anchors (I may have overdone this one a little - it was the second window I attacked) and I timed myself actually mounting the panel - it took 4 minutes. A battery-powered electric drill (set to its lowest torque setting) with a phillips bit makes this a breeze.

I suppose it would also be possible to mount these panels the same way someone waiting until the last minute would install plywood storm panels. This technique would involve the use of long wood screws (again hopefully screwed into the framing studs that surround every window). If I were going to do it this way, I'd strongly recommend the use of at least a 1" washer (offered here) on the exterior of the panel to prevent the pulling forces from tearing the panel off of the screw. Ultimately, this may the best way to handle protecting windows on a home with vinyl siding. Installing permanent anchors on a home with vinyl siding involves considering two other issues. One, vinyl siding is just hung on the home with nails that are loosely hammered in so that the siding can expand and contract as the sun hits it. If permanent anchors were installed on opposite ends of the same piece of siding it could cause the siding to buckle unattractively when heated by the sun, so caution would have to be exercised when deciding where to place the anchors on windows that are close together. Secondly, drilling a hole through the vinyl siding might create an opportunity for rain water to get behind the siding, potentially eventually saturating the sheathing behind the siding. Serious consideration would have to be given as to how to seal the holes in the siding. This could be made easier by utilizing "male" anchors (because of the smaller diameter hole needed).. Whether it be polycarbonate or plywood, these same issues exist for homeowners with vinyl siding - perhaps the better way would be to utilize aluminum "h" channels on the edges as a method of minimizing the number of holes that would need to be drilled into the home. Again, I don't claim to be an expert and there may be other solutions to these problems. In the final analysis, it is probably a good idea to contact a siding manufacturer to get their thoughts on this issue. (Siding installers might have some ideas as well, but I'd still consult with a manufacturer, like Norandex).

If you have any questions on installation issues please either e-mail me at or call 843-227-8887 and I'll be happy to give you my thoughts. Bill Hobson..