Accordion Shutters vs Impact Windows: Comprehensive Comparison and Guide

Delving into the comparison between accordion shutters and impact windows, this post will dissect their respective features, pros, cons and how they fare in terms of cost-effectiveness and protection.

When it comes to home safety and storm protection, the debate often boils down to accordion shutters vs impact windows</strong>. Both options offer their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks.

Accordion shutters, for instance, are known for their cost-effectiveness and ease of use, making them a popular choice for homeowners.

Impact windows, on the other hand, provide superior protection against strong winds and flying debris, besides offering enhanced energy efficiency and noise reduction.

This article will delve into the specifics of each option, comparing their features, costs, installation process, maintenance, and more, to help you make an informed decision.

Key takeaways:

  • Accordion shutters: cost-effective, easy to use, customizable, low maintenance.
  • Impact windows: superior protection, energy efficient, noise reduction, durable.
  • Window protection in hurricane-prone areas: physical safety, property protection.
  • Accordion shutters: cost-effective, easy to use, customizable, low maintenance.
  • Impact windows: superior protection, energy efficient, noise reduction, durable.

What's Inside

Need for Window Protection in Hurricane-Prone Areas

Window Protection in Hurricane Steel Storm Accordion Shutters

In regions frequently battered by hurricanes, adequate window protection is essential. This protection helps prevent wind-borne debris from smashing through and causing indoor pressure changes that can lead to roof loss.

Two main reasons underscore the importance of window protection in hurricane-prone areas:

  • Physical Safety: High-velocity flying debris poses a significant threat to residents. Proper window protection helps to block these potential projectiles, reducing the risk of injury.
  • Property Protection: When wind penetrates a home through shattered windows, it can create upward pressure causing the roof to tear off. Protecting your windows can prevent this extreme damage, potentially saving your roof and the contents of your home.

Options for such protection include installing specific window covers like accordion shutters or replacing your existing windows with impact-resistant ones. Each solution provides different protection levels, installation requirements, and pricing structures. Also consider the noise reduction capability and energy efficiency that each option affords. To decide what’s right for your home, consider factors like your budget, aesthetic preferences, and the frequency and intensity of storms in your area.

What Are Accordion Shutters?

Accordion shutters Accordion Hurricane Protection

Accordion shutters are robust mechanical devices specifically designed for windows and doors protection. Constructed from interlocking aluminum blades, these shutters can be closed and locked over your windows and doors to form a protective barrier against powerful storm force winds and flying debris.

Key features that set accordion shutters apart include, but are not limited to:

  • Custom fit: Regardless of the size or shape of your windows and doors, accordion shutters can be tailored to fit perfectly, ensuring maximum protection.
  • Ease of use: These fixtures can be closed and locked quickly and easily from the inside or outside of your home, making them particularly reliable in emergency situations.
  • Durability: Constructed primarily from aluminum, they are highly resistant to corrosion, hence ensuring a long lifespan.
  • Aesthetics: Accordion shutters can be painted to match your specific exterior home color scheme, thus merging functionality with aesthetics.
  • Storage: Unlike some other options, you don’t need extra storage space for your shutters when they’re not in use. Instead, when open, they conveniently fold back onto the sides of your windows and doors.

While the installation process generally requires professional help, once installed, they can be easily operated by the homeowner during those critical moments before a storm hits.

Benefits of Accordion Shutters

Benefits of Accordion Shutters Hurricane Protection

Accordion shutters are highly valued for their versatility and practicality. To begin with, they are a great option for providing quick storm protection. You can close and lock them swiftly in the event of an approaching hurricane, offering excellent defense against high winds and pelting rain.

While primarily used for hurricane protection, these shutters can double as a security feature, too. They act as a deterrent against potential home intrusions when you’re away, boosting the safety of your property.

Additionally, accordion shutters can provide a significant improvement in energy efficiency. By blocking strong sunshine, they help maintain a cooler indoor temperature, potentially reducing the cost of air conditioning. They can be completely closed during the hottest parts of the day, limiting heat gain and contributing to a more comfortable living environment.

Another attraction is their simple maintenance. There’s no need for any tricky cleaning or complicated care routines. Most of the time, an occasional wash with soap and water will suffice to keep them looking fresh.

Lastly, accordion shutters enable homeowners to have discretion over their light control. Depending on their position, they can be adjusted to allow varying levels of light, from full sunshine to almost complete darkness. This flexibility becomes handy whether you want to let in the morning light or darken a room for movie night.

Drawbacks of Accordion Shutters

Maintenance Window Shutter

While accordion shutters offer reliable protection, there are a few limitations to consider. Firstly, they can give a closed-off look even when retracted, potentially affecting your home’s aesthetic appeal. Secondly, they require manual operation, which can be cumbersome, particularly for larger windows. It may become a hassle if you need to secure your home quickly in case of an impending storm.

Maintenance needs for these shutters are higher as one must regularly clean and lubricate the tracks to prevent malfunction. Particularly, salt air in coastal regions can quickly lead to corrosion if they are not maintained properly. Additionally, replacing damaged sections can prove difficult; often it’s necessary to replace the entire system.

Finally, should the locking mechanism fail, your shutters remain vulnerable and ideally you’d have to replace the whole system. This is especially important because insurance companies may not cover damages if the shutters were not fully functional before the storm.

Although accordion shutters meet most regional building codes, they do not offer the same level of energy-efficiency as some of the alternatives, such as impact windows. Also worth noting, is that they do not provide noise reduction and are not as durable in the long run as they can be prone to wear and tear.

What Are Impact Windows?

 Impact Windows

Impact windows, also known as hurricane windows, are a type of window specifically engineered to withstand extreme weather conditions, particularly strong winds and flying debris associated with hurricanes. These windows feature a heavy-duty frame paired with impact-resistant laminated glass. The laminated glass consists of two glass layers with a plastic film sandwiched in between.

Designed to resist shattering upon impact, the outer layer of the window may crack under tremendous pressure, but the inner plastic layer retains the glass fragments, effectively preventing glass shards from entering the home.

Beyond their storm-resistant qualities, impact windows offer additional benefits that include improved energy efficiency, enhanced home security against break-ins, and reduction in outside noise.

Despite being more costly compared to traditional windows or accordion shutters, their durability, multi-functional benefits, and long-term value make them a popular choice amongst homeowners residing in hurricane-prone areas. When deciding between accordion shutters and impact windows, considering factors such as budget, aesthetics, and additional benefits outside of storm protection can assist in making an informed decision.

Benefits of Impact Windows

Benefits of Impact Windows

Impact windows are a well-rounded choice for many homeowners. Here are some reasons why:

Firstly, they provide premium protection against severe weather, significantly reducing the risk of window breakage during hurricanes, thus preventing rain and wind from entering the home.

Secondly, impact windows are designed to discourage burglaries due to their shatter-resistant glass feature. The panes resist cracking even when delivering a heavy blow, making it difficult for intruders to gain access.

Thirdly, they offer superior noise reduction. If you live in a noisy neighborhood or near a main road, these types of windows can significantly reduce the amount of external noise that enters your home.

Next, energy efficiency is another key benefit. Impact windows can prevent heat from escaping your home in winter, and keep it cooler in summer by reflecting the sunlight.

Lastly, unlike shutters, impact windows don’t require additional preparation before a storm. Once they’re installed, your home is always storm-ready, saving you time, energy and stress in dire situations.

Drawbacks of Impact Windows

High Cost

While impact windows offer excellent protection and energy efficiency, they are not without some disadvantages.

One of their main downsides is the high upfront cost. The technology used to make these windows impact-resistant is pricey, which in turn drives up the cost of the windows themselves.

Secondly, installation can be complex. It’s not just about replacing the glass; often, the entire frame must be changed to accommodate the heavy-duty nature of impact windows. This results in a significant labor cost.

Another potential drawback is their static nature. Unlike shutters, once impact windows are installed, they cannot be opened to allow airflow, thus potentially making the house feel stuffy in calm weather conditions.

Lastly, potential buyers must ensure they have a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from, as not all impact windows may match with your home’s aesthetic. Some homeowners may not be pleased with the limited design options available.

Cost Comparison: Accordion Shutters Vs Impact Windows

Federal Tax Incentives

Accordion shutters are generally less expensive upfront, especially when considering material cost. For example, plastic accordion shutters are usually more affordable than metal ones, with averages ranging from $15 to $20 per square foot.

On the other hand, the cost for impact windows can vary widely, depending on size, design and the manufacturer, ranging anywhere from $40 to $55 per square foot.

While the initial cost of accordion shutters may be less, it’s worth noting that they require regular maintenance, which could add to the overall expense. Plus, there’s the aesthetics factor; some homeowners may see an improved home value with impact windows because they are often more appealing to the eye.

An installation for accordion shutters is less expensive than that for impact windows. The installation process for accordion shutters is less complex, hence, contractors spend less time and charge less money.

In contrast, impact windows, due to their complex nature and size, incur more labor cost and time, hence making the installation process more expensive.

Financial incentives are often available to homeowners who install impact windows, as many insurance companies offer deductions for homes fitted with these types of protective measures. Also, homes with impact windows may see a boost in property value.

When making a decision, it might be beneficial to look beyond the initial cost outlay and consider long-term benefits, potential home value increase, and running maintenance costs. Remember, the goal here is not just to secure the home but to get the best value for money.

Installation Process for Accordion Shutters and Impact Windows

Reinstalling the Window

When installing accordion shutters, few tools are required, which eases their implementation. Begin by mounting tracks above and below the window, followed by anchoring the shutters within the apparatus. Ensure they slide freely. Next, secure the locking mechanism to the track. Experts often suggest professional installation to avoid missteps that compromise homeowner safety.

Conversely, the installation of impact windows necessitates removal of the existing window — a process that can be disruptive and time-intensive. Once the old window is removed, the new impact window is placed and secured in the cavity, properly sealed for maximum protection against hurricane force winds. This installation should be performed by a licensed expert due to the precision required. Additionally, permitting and local building code compliance must be observed, which adds a layer of complexity to the process.

Maintenance Requirements for Accordion Shutters and Impact Windows

Mild Detergent Cleaning Shutter

Accordion Shutters:

Maintenance on these shutters is minimal, which makes them an attractive solution for many homeowners. Routine cleaning with a mild detergent and water will keep them looking fresh and operational. Every few months, it’s essential to inspect the tracks and ensure they’re clear from debris. Lubricating the tracks periodically can also prevent sticking and ensure smooth operation.

Impact Windows:

Contrarily, impact windows require even less upkeep. They can be cleaned using standard window cleaning solutions, and there’s no need to lubricate or remove debris from tracks. For multi-story homes, cleaning can be done without the need for ladders or special tools since both the inside and outside of the windows can be reached from the interior. It is recommended though, to check the seals periodically to ensure the integrity of the window.

Both provide excellent storm protection and minimal maintenance demands, making them practical choices accordingly.

Storm Protection Capabilities: Accordion Shutters Vs Impact Windows

Storm Protection Impact Glass

Accordion shutters are designed to resist wind forces and protect from flying debris, often a dangerous component in a storm event. They are practically impervious to hurricane winds when installed properly, making them an effective defense line in a storm.

Impact windows, on the other hand, contain a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer sandwiched between the two layers of glass. This composition enhances their structural integrity. They’re engineered to withstand forceful impact and to prevent shattering, thus offering another level of protection during a storm.

Both options do not completely eliminate the potential for damage but significantly reduce it. They offer security during a storm, eliminating the need for last-minute preparations.

The key points in terms of storm protection capabilities include:

  • Accordion Shutters: Efficient in resisting wind forces and flying debris, eliminating the need for emergency storm preparations.
  • Impact Windows: Built to withstand impact and prevent glass shattering, providing an added layer of security during storms.

Regular inspection of these installations can ensure they are in working order and are prepared for storm events. Proper maintenance boosts their durability and performance in adverse weather conditions.

Noise Control: Accordion Shutters Vs Impact Windows

house window coating

When it comes to noise reduction, both accordion shutters and impact windows can offer significant benefits.

Impact windows are designed with layered glass and sealed frames, which not only protect your home from harsh weather but also help to insulate it from external noises. The glass layers in impact windows aid in buffering sounds from traffic, neighborhood activities, and environmental noises. With a proper seal, they can reduce outside noise levels by up to 70%.

Accordion shutters, on the other hand, may not offer the same degree of soundproofing. While they do provide some degree of noise reduction when fully closed, this generally isn’t their primary function. Instead, their primary purpose is to shield windows from the impact of flying debris during storms.

Maintaining these installations can influence their noise control capabilities over time. For instance, ageing seals or damaged layers in impact windows can reduce their effectiveness at noise reduction. Similarly, accordion shutters that aren’t properly maintained might allow more sound to pass through.

By assessing your noise control needs and keeping up with regular maintenance, you can optimize the benefits offered by your choice between impact windows and accordion shutters.

Energy Efficiency: Accordion Shutters Vs Impact Windows

energy efficiency window

While both accordion shutters and impact windows offer distinct advantages in energy efficiency, each operates somewhat differently.

Accordion shutters, when closed, create an air barrier between the window and the exterior environment. This reduces the amount of heat or cold transfer, thus helping to maintain interior temperature and lower energy costs. However, they must be closed to offer this benefit, which can eliminate natural light and may not be feasible all the time.

On the other hand, impact windows are designed with low-emittance (Low-E) glass. The glass features a thin coating that minimally impacts the window’s appearance while reducing energy loss by up to 50%. This technology works around the clock, regardless of whether the window is in use, allowing homeowners to enjoy natural light without compromising thermal comfort. Marketable as a significant benefit, impact windows show a consistent performance concerning energy efficiency year-round.

It’s also worth noting that both accordion shutters and impact windows can earn homeowners insurance rebates and tax credits for energy efficiency in certain jurisdictions, further promoting their eco-friendly side.

In the end, the decision between accordion shutters and impact windows regarding energy efficiency may come down to a balance between function and lifestyle considerations.

How to Choose: Accordion Shutters or Impact Windows?

couple budgeting

A clear understanding and evaluation of the following factors can guide the decision-making process:

The degree of storm protection needed. Both accordion shutters and impact windows provide solid protection against storms, but personal comfort levels, regional hurricane activity, and home location should be taken into account.

Budget consideration. An important factor to consider is how much one is willing to hand out. There’s quite a disparity in cost between the two options, with accordion shutters often proving to be more affordable.

Maintenance capability. Accordion shutters require periodical maintenance, while impact windows need less maintenance but more attentive cleaning. A reflection upon individual’s capacity and willingness for upkeep can help determine the right option.

Desired aesthetic. Each option carries a distinct visual appeal. Impact windows give seamless and natural views, while accordion shutters can add a sharp, structured look to the house exterior.

Regulations in your locality. Before deciding, it’s crucial to check local building codes and homeowners association rules, as they may have strict requirements around storm protection installations.

Energy efficiency desire. If reducing energy consumption is paramount, the choice might lean toward impact windows due to the added efficiency they offer.

Noise control need. Some individuals may weigh noise reduction capacity more heavily in their choice. Impact windows may win in this category, offering better sound isolation than accordion shutters.

Availability and condition of current windows. If the existing windows are in good condition, it can be more cost-effective to simply add accordion shutters; evaluating them to install impact windows may call for additional, potentially costly procedures.

Considering these factors, and keeping in mind that neither option is inherently better than the other, can help in making an informed decision.


What is better impact windows or accordion shutters?

Impact windows are superior to accordion shutters as they last longer, require less upkeep, withstand severe storms better, decrease noise pollution and enhance energy efficiency.

Are shutters cheaper than impact windows?

Yes, hurricane shutters are generally cheaper than impact windows.

Are accordion hurricane shutters worth it?

Yes, accordion hurricane shutters are worth it as they offer nearly equivalent storm protection to roll down shutters at a lower cost.

Are hurricane shutters cheaper than impact windows?

Yes, hurricane shutters are generally cheaper than impact-resistant windows.

How do impact windows fare in comparison with accordion shutters in terms of energy efficiency?

Impact windows provide superior energy efficiency compared to accordion shutters due to their insulating properties and ability to limit heat transfer.

What is the life expectancy difference between accordion shutters and impact windows?

The life expectancy of accordion shutters is typically around 10 years, whereas impact windows can last over 20-25 years with proper maintenance.

In terms of aesthetics and home value, which proves superior – accordion shutters or impact windows?

While both accordion shutters and impact windows provide strong protection against severe weather, impact windows often prove superior in terms of aesthetics and home value due to their modern appearance and increased natural light.