Hurricane Retrofit Strategies

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Protect your home from hurricanes

Homeowners can reduce the potential damage from hurricanes by incorporating certain retrofit strategies. PATH studies homes in the aftermath of hurricanes to learn how to best protect them – and you. The following strategies address the commons points of failure and suggest the five most significant improvements to strengthen a home.

When doing any work, make sure to meet or exceed the building code requirements for high-wind regions.

Hurricane shutters or impact resistant glazing

Metal hurricane shutters are easily installed on most existing homes. In some designs, hurricane shutters can be electrically rolled down to protect the home. Storm-resistant shutters for a standard single-story home with 312 square feet of windows cost about $700.

Impact-resistant windows are optimal for windows not easily fitted with hurricane shutters or those that are hard to reach. Make sure to install an impact resistant system on sliding glass doors because they are larger and more vulnerable to wind and debris than windows. If these doors cannot be replaced, then at the very least install hurricane shutters. [IMAGE: Florida home with shutters that withstood the eye of a hurricane in 2004.]

The Pine Island, Florida home pictured right was near the eye of Hurricane Charley, yet was virtually undamaged. (Note minor soffit damage on right side of photo). The hurricane shutters protected the doors and windows. This home also used a hip roof (no large gables) covered with a very durable metal roof.

Secure roof sheathing to trusses

When replacing shingles, consider reinforcing the connection between the sheathing to the rafters or trusses.

Remove roofing material down to the sheathing

Inspect and reinforce the rafter (or truss) connection to the walls

Replace any damaged sheathing

Nail the sheathing using ring shank nails every six inches

Seal roof sheathing joints to provide additional moisture protection

Install a quality, wind-resistant roofing product per building requirements in high-wind zones

If shingles are in good shape, the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recommends using a construction adhesive to “glue” the underside of sheathing to the rafter or truss.

Apply ΒΌ inch bead of wood adhesive between the rafter and sheathing (on both sides of the rafter). The strengthened connection can increase the resistance of sheathing by up to three times. Use construction adhesives certified as AFG-01.
If unable to reach both sides of the truss or rafter, use a small piece of lumber (e.g., quarter round), which runs continuously along the rafter to increase glue surface. Tack the quarter round to get good contact between the rafter and sheathing.
Reinforce garage doors

Reinforced garage doors protect the contents of the garage and the home. PATH recommends installing new, hurricane resistant garage doors.

Retrofit kits are also available. These kits include horizontal and vertical bracing to strengthen the door. However, the bracing increases the weight of the door, which may force you to also reinforce the hinges or opening mechanism.

Strengthen exterior doors

Failure of the lock set, doorjamb or hinges frequently causes doors to blow in.

The deadbolt should have a long throw (at least one inch) that should penetrate into the stud framing, not just the doorjamb.

To strengthen the hinge side, ensure at least three hinges are properly installed with the hinge screws penetrating through the doorjamb into the studs.

Installing slide locks (also called head and foot bolts) at the top and bottom of door will further strengthen door. They are absolutely necessary for double doors. Ensure that the locks are mounted securely to the subfloor and door header, not just into the trim.

Reinforce gable trusses

Many gable roofs fail because the end wall collapses. Fortunately, reinforcing them is fairly easy.

  1. From inside the attic, nail an eight-foot 2×4 to the gable end wall near the roof ridge.
  2. Install this 2×4 perpendicular to the gable end wall, connecting several trusses together.
  3. Along the bottom of the truss, install an additional eight-foot 2×4 perpendicular to the roof trusses on four-foot centers.
  4. Between trusses, install blocking to lock the truss spacing.


While you repair your house, you can also reduce utility bills by making it more energy-efficient. Learn how by using the Rehab Advisor.

Cleaning up water damage? Read PATH recommendations for flood recovery.

Starting fresh? Learn how to build a more hurricane resistant home.

Learn what PATH technologies can help you speed up the rebuilding process.

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