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    Hurricane Doors


    When you hear the term “high security”, most professionals immediately think of protective design products like anti-ram bollards or wedge barriers that prevent man-made accidents or deliberate hostile attacks. But high security can also be applied to dangerous and deadly natural events like floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados. In fact, as climate change accelerates, coastal areas are feeling more and more like combat zones being bombarded by increasingly destructive storms. For this reason, Protogetic carries hurricane doors and tornado doors from leading manufacturers.


    What are hurricane doors?


    Hurricane doors, sometimes called a hurricane impact doors,  must protect against the water, pressure and flying debris associated with these powerful natural disasters. This is a difficult and demanding test. However, with the required engineering and testing, hurricane impact doors can actually withstand Category 5 storms.


    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines a hurricane as a low-pressure tropical cyclone that forms over warm ocean water and generates a sustained surface wind of at least 74 mph.  There are five categories of hurricanes.


    • Category 1 – Wind speeds between 74 - 95 mph
    • Category 2 – Wind speeds between 96 - 110 mph
    • Category 3 – Wind speeds between 111 - 129 mph
    • Category 4 – Wind speeds between 130 - 156 mph
    • Category 5 – Wind speeds between 157 mph or higher


    Will residential steel doors protect my house?


    A common misconception is that homeowners believe that their residential steel doors will protect their home and families from the destructive force of a hurricane. This is patently false. In fact, severe damage can occur at wind speeds less than 74 mph and unless specifically designed, manufactured and tested under hurricane force conditions, residential steel doors, even those marketed as “storm doors”, simply cannot withstand wind-propelled debris that is caused during a hurricane.  


    This is very important to understand because when a door or window fails during a hurricane, the increased air pressure can lead to the roof being blown off and the entire structure being flattened.  Only rated, certified hurricane doors can protect your home and family during these extreme conditions.


    How are hurricane doors rated?


    The gold standard test for wind damage is the International Code Council and National Storm Shelter Association’s ICC 500 test, also titled the Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters. It bases its requirements on data from FEMA’s P-361 safe room criteria and research and tests against 250 mph wind speeds.


    Many also consider the ASTM E 1996 Standard Specification for Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors, and Impact Protective Systems Impacted by Windborne Debris in Hurricanes to be one of the most valuablestandards in hurricane testing.


    There is also a water infiltration test called ASTM E 1105. Water is applied with pressure to simulate the driving rain of a hurricane. A failed test is defined by water leaking beyond the most interior plane of the fenestration.


    How is impact resistance to wind damage tested?


    Along with water and pressure tests, one of the most important tests evaluates how a door (or hurricane window) would hold up to flying debris. The ICC 500 test uses eight-foot long 2x4 lumber pieces, called a “missiles”. Each 2x4 weighs nine pounds and is fired from an air cannon multiple times at more than 30 mph (50 feet per second). The 2x4 missiles are directed at specific locations on the door – upper edge, lock and hinges. The door must not be penetrated by the missile for the door to pass the test.


    Are there other hurricane testing standards?


    Since Florida is often ground zero for hurricanes, it is not surprising that Miami-Dade County, as well as the State of Florida, also have hurricane building requirements with their own door and window codes. Florida has two counties it designates as High Velocity Hurricane Zones (HVHZ) – Miami-Dade and Broward – where building requirements for minimum wind velocity (3 second gust) is pegged at 146 and 140 mph respectively. It’s important to always check local building codes in coastal hurricane locations for any additional requirements.


    Are there “hurricane-proof” doors?


    No. Just like the misnomers of “bulletproof” and “bombproof” there is no such thing as a “hurricane-proof” door. There are far too many variables like wind speed, pressure, and duration that can compromise even the highest rated doors. Just because doors aren't "hurricane proof", this does not mean that one should ignore installing reputable, certified hurricane doors that in almost all cases will protect you, your family or employees and the building.


    What materials are used to make hurricane doors?


    Hurricane exterior doors can be made from a variety of materials including aluminum or composites, with steel being the most commonly used. Some steel doors are available with wood laminate surfaces for aesthetic considerations.


    What kinds of hurricane impact doors are there?


    Just like typical residential front doors, there are hurricane impact single front doors and hurricane impact double front doors. The style chosen depends on the door opening and the building aesthetics. It's important that you have hurricane protection for front doors, but it's equally important that all the outside-facing doors of your home or building be hurricane exterior doors. If one door (or window) is compromised by flying debris the entire building can be jeopardized.


    Can hurricane doors have windows?


    Yes. However, the window, often designated as a "lite", must be tested under the same impact resistance conditions as the door. Whether it is a stand alone window, a door, or a full or half-lite door or even a hurrican impact door with sidelights (glass side panels), the impact-resistance engineering prevents high-speed winds from penetrating the door and window and thus compromising the building by allowing a dangerous increase in air pressure. So it is imperative that doors and windows not fail during storm activity as the increased pressure can cause detachment of the roof as well as blow out other doors and windows. Ultimately, this can level the entire structure.


    Where can I find rated, certified hurricane doors?


    Protogetic carries certified hurricane impact doors from leading manufacturers. Find the exact door and/or high security window your project requires by using our Protogetic filter. There is detailed product documentation, including specifications, drawings and certifications. Stop endlessly searching and get more work done.