Hurricane Shutters: PVC Panels vs Impact Glass vs Plywood?

By Trevor Lanphear

On February 4, 2021
Living in a the Cape Fear coastal region has the benefits of choosing from beautiful waterfront views on Wrightsville Beach, Banks Channel and Figure 8 Island. But homeowners must be prepared for the dangers of coastal life...hurricanes.

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Or if you are not in the mood for a quick video…we’ve left the transcript from Trevor below for your reading enjoyment.

“This is one of those things we do.

We’ve probably done about 8 to 10 of them, we’re about to do another one for a house in Figure 8.

This is the PVC panel hurricane shutters by Lanphear Builders Inc.

We make every panel fit each window. We we do a map and label: S22 that’s the South Wall, 2nd floor, second window.

And these are made to be put over the windows if we had a hurricane coming.

We designed these systems, and we came up with this method because the material is cost effective and It meets the hurricane wind codes.

Any customer that’s looking in put in new windows does not get locked into having to purchase the impact rated Glass for those windows.

That’s important for two reasons. One, the cost could be substantial, so if you’ve got somewhere, we did just did a house with 72 Windows, the impact glass increased the cost of that order about 37%.

You can expect the cost of the window units to be 30 to 43% higher for impact glass, depending on manufacturer. That’s a substantial number. We’ve had window orders up to $200,000 to $250,000 in some houses, so the number can get big. But to do a system like this for a full-blown beach house.

Depending on how many windows and the complexity the House might cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, which is a fraction of the savings that you get if you go down to the regular glass and you’re still doing new units and just by investing the extra say $12,000 to $14,00 or $15,000 for this system. 

We have to come and put it on every time there’s a storm that warrants it.  However, it’s much quicker and much more lightweight, and much safer than doing plywood.  It’s never going to rot; you don’t have to paint the trim after you take it down, it doesn’t stick to the trim.  PVC gets wet, it’s no problem.  PVC is lightweight, so it takes less manpower.

Generally, after the third storm, the third time you put these up and take them down the system will pay for itself.

Because even if you get impact glass in your windows or doors, even if you pay that extra money, they don’t warranty that the window won’t leak.

There’s a difference.

Impact glass will prevent any projectiles say a 2 by 4 from going through your window, but it won’t stop wind-driven rain that gets stuck on the sheen of the window for hours on end while the wind is driving the water against the structure.  They don’t warranty against leaks under that kind of pressure.  It’s a DP rating, a design pressure rating, so the higher design pressure ratings might be as much as DP 50 or maybe DP 60 on some of the units where you get wind-driven rain for several hours on end at 80mph, 90 mph to 110 miles an hour Impact windows will leak, even brand new ones. These PVC panels keep that rain off the window, so it prevents that from happening.

I tell a lot of folks don’t spend the money on impact glass until I’ve had a chance to look at the whole scope of the work and then let’s consider a PVC panel system.”

Written by Trevor Lanphear

Lanphear Builders Inc. was founded in 2009 by Trevor Lanphear, owner & general contractor (NC License 69768). Trevor has been dedicated to the coastal Carolina market since 1994 after moving to Wilmington, NC from upstate NY. He worked his way up from a crew lead, to foreman and into a superintendent position gaining valuable hands on experience. Trevor worked for the Nick Garrett Development Group Inc. from 1999-2009 and oversaw projects along Figure Eight Island, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and surrounding areas of Wilmington.

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Photo of Wrightsville Beach Remodel Project by Lanphear Builders

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