Plywood vs Steel vs Aluminum Window Panels: Which is Best?

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Nov 7, 2019 10:25:12 AM

Both new and seasoned Florida residents often wonder what is the best material for window protection. Many homeowners already have hurricane rated windows throughout their home. However, a second layer of protection brings peace of mind knowing their homes are as protected as possible.

Cost, level of protection and ease of installation are important factors to consider with any window protection. Below, we have compared plywood, steel and aluminum to help you in your decision on which hurricane window protection best serves your needs.


Using Plywood to Cover Windows

Plywood window protection is often a popular choice for hurricane protection. Typically priced around $2-$4 per square foot, plywood window protection is an economical option for homeowners. However, the low price comes with some drawbacks

Plywood window protection can serve the needs of your home for only one storm. Since it is wood, the rain will cause damage after the first storm. It cannot be stored as it will begin to rot by the next storm.

Along with the inability to reuse the plywood window protection, homeowners will have to install the pieces of plywood themselves. This typically takes a few hours to set up and then several hours to remove. If you have a multi-story home, you will need to get on a ladder, which is incredibly risky.

Storm Panel Window Protection

Storm panels are inexpensive options for homeowners who want durable hurricane protection. Most storm panels, regardless of the material, offer the following benefits:

  • Storm panels are removable. Steel or aluminum window panels are easy to remove before or after a storm. They can be stored away when no storms are imminent.

  • Storm panels offer insulation. Most storm panels act like an insulator. These panels trap in your cool, fresh AC and prevent the sticky, hot Florida heat from coming into your home.

  • Storm panels provide security. Along with offering another layer of protection from a hurricane, you also enjoy the added benefit of home security. Burglars, unfortunately, try to take advantage of hurricanes and break through glass windows. With a steel window panel or aluminum window panel, the burglar will have a harder time entering.

  • Storm panels require few upgrades. Since storm panels are not motorized, they are relatively cheap. Plus, they do not require upgrades or maintenance.

Storm Panels

Steel Window Panel

A steel window panel is the most economical storm panel. Averaging around $5 to $10 per square foot (including professional installation), a steel window panel provides all of the benefits of storm panel without bringing in the high cost of different materials or motors.

Aluminum Window Panel

Storm panels increase with price due to different materials of construction. An aluminum window panel can run around $10 to $15 per square foot because they are a bit stronger than steel panels. They are typically almost double in thickness compared to steel panels while weighing less than half of the weight.

What Is The Best Option?

Plywood might seem like the cost effective option, but it cannot be reused and it is not as strong as metal. The best material is typically metal because it has the correct mounting. Better still, it often comes with insurance benefits. 

An aluminum window panel is your best option, but if your budget doesn’t have room, a steel window panel will work for your needs. 

Our specialists can help you pick the right protection for your budget and assist you with all of your hurricane needs. Refer to our hurricane guide to ensure you are fully prepared for hurricane season.


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Topics: Plywood, Aluminum Storm Panel, Steel Storm Panel