Comparing Fiberglass Storm Panels to Plywood

Robust storm panels can return the cost of their investment in a single incident of severe weather, and fiberglass storm panels are superior to plywood in almost every sense.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma battered the Florida coastline causing an estimated $65 billion worth of damage – as much as $2.3 billion of which was caused by high winds and storm surges[1]. This figure represents just a portion of the annual cost of hurricane damage in the US, which topped $306 billion for 2017[2].

These staggering figures fail to paint an accurate picture of what extreme weather events can cost individuals. The Congressional Budget Office equates “substantial” storm damage to 5% of the average income and estimates that over 1.2 million Americans are at risk of such conditions[3]. Many individuals avoid the initial investment cost of permanent storm panels or shutters in favor of responsive, temporary protection.

Installing plywood guards across windows and doors when storm warnings are issued has become common practice in the US. However, the material offers only circumstantial and superficial protection against high winds and storm surges. The fiber sheets of plywood will typically warp when exposed to severe rain, absorbing moisture and succumbing to rot after a single-use.

Testing Storm Panels Under Operating Conditions

To demonstrate the enhanced performance levels of fiberglass storm panels over plywood, tornado winds were simulated in a research center, and projectiles were propelled at each product. The timber missile weighed 15lbs and traveled towards the panels at 100mph. This was in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 320 testing, which measures the requirements for sheathing domestic and commercial properties from tornados at ground speeds up to 250mph.

Five sheets of thick plywood failed under these conditions, offering extremely poor impact resistance below FEMA 320 specifications. By comparison, Strongwell’s HS Storm Panels absorbed the impact with no surface damage, exceeding expectations for protection from flying debris.

Read More: How Do Fiberglass Products Endure Hurricanes?

This represents an ongoing return on investment due to the elimination of replacing plywood panels that have either been damaged by impacts or water absorption. HS Storm Panels are lightweight, easy to install, and simple to store for future reuse. The use of disposable and inefficient storm panels in areas that repeatedly suffer from adverse weather effects may appear to be the cheaper option due to the lower initial cost of plywood, but fiberglass pays itself back time and time again with protection sufficient to FEMA standards.

HS Storm Panels from Strongwell

Strongwell specializes in the development, manufacture, and supply of advanced fiberglass products for demanding specifications. Our HS Storm Panels are suitable for application as structural elements in storm shelters, window shutters or coverings, wall panels, and door inserts.

If you would like any more information about the benefits of our fiberglass storm panels, please do not hesitate to contact us.


[1] Financial Times

[2] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[3] The Balance