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Can Window Film Be Used For Hurricane Protection?

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Mar 19, 2014 12:59:16 PM

PGT-full-hight-windowsOver the years, one way that Florida homeowners have tried to protect their windows from storms is through the use of safety and security films. However, as a result of a law passed in 2011, this film should not be considered hurricane resistant.

Film manufacturers vigorously argued the new law, maintaining that film can provide "shatter resistance" in severe weather. What's the real story on window film? Is it useful for hurricane protection?

Florida Building Codes Promote Impact Resistance

Updated Florida building codes implemented in 2010 included more areas in the High Velocity Hurricane Zone than any previous codes recognized. As a result of the new classification, builders and homeowners alike were put on notice that when rebuilding or remodeling their home, they must be more concerned about the impact resistance of the windows.

Window Film Effectiveness Overstated

As often happens in Florida, many scam artists came on the scene, promising a quick and easy way to comply with the law by adding film to windows. It was a common sight to see trucks with phrases such as "high impact window film," or "insurance approved" written on the side. Many consumers bought the product after being led to believe that it was a complete solution against the impact of hurricanes.

By presenting window film as a total solution, the implication was that adding film could make any window "impact resistant." What film does is make glass shatter resistant by enveloping broken glass, similar to what impact windows do. The difference is that an actual impact window has a stronger frame that contributes to the window's performance in the storm. Window film is helpful in improving safety during high wind, but many unscrupulous contractors and film dealers overstated the claims.

The 2011 law was a provision in a larger attack against product misrepresentation; it was added without allowing the window film industry a chance to respond. 

Clarifications By A Major Film Manufacturer

On its own website, 3M clarifies that its line of "Safety and Security window films are not hurricane proof, earthquake proof, bulletproof, bombproof, nor burglarproof. They are designed to make window glass more shatter resistant." They also make it clear that "this product is not approved in the State of Florida for uses a hurricane, windstorm, or impact protection from windborne debris from a hurricane or windstorm" and states that in compliance with Florida Statute 553.842, the product cannot be advertised as "impact resistant."

Contact Storm Solutions For Information

Bottom line: While not approved in Florida for use in hurricanes, in certain circumstances where impact glass or hurricane shutters are not required to comply with building codes, the film may be considered adequate protection.

For more information, contact Storm Solutions. We are committed to helping you improve the security of your home during storms, in a way that is compliant with Florida law. If you live in  Naples/Marco Island, Fort Myers/Cape Coral, or Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda, check our website for the latest impact resistant products, or call us at 239-567-9727 to schedule an appointment.

Hurricane Guide