a white house with trees down and flooding in the driveway after hurricane ian

Depending on what part of the US you live in, you need to take several steps to make your garage door hurricane-proof. Leaving your garage door unprotected during a hurricane will not only cause damage to the door itself, but the damage sustained to the whole house will be more severe due to the wind, water, and objects hurled in. 

This article will discuss the different types of hurricane protection for your garage doors, what materials work best, and how far you need to go with hurricane-proofing your garage door according to the hurricane incidence and intensity in your area.

So, let’s get into it!

To hurricane-proof your garage door, you must first check the local regulations and historical intensity of hurricanes. The most common safety additions are hurricane braces, panels, shutters, and wind-resistant garage doors.

Now that you’ve seen the broad strokes let’s look at each of these steps in greater detail.

Choosing Materials, Testing, and Best Ways To Hurricane Proof

To understand how hurricane-proofing works, you need to know what puts your garage door at risk during a hurricane. 

How well-protected your garage doors are depends on how they handle the destructive forces of a storm:

  • Wind speed is the first and most damaging force your garage door has to withstand – powerful winds can wear down bolts, loosen hinges and crack the doors.
  • Watch out for floodsaccording to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), just 1” (2.54 cm) of floodwater can cause $25,000 worth of damage to your home.
  • Flying debris hitting your garage doors can cause significant damage – the residuum can cause structural damage, cracks, and water insulation loss, further damaging your property.

What Garage Doors Materials Are the Most Effective for Hurricane-Proofing?

While modern materials like wood, fiberglass, or aluminum are stylish for garage doors, steel is the only option that offers enough resistance against powerful winds. And if you live in a coastal area in a hurricane-prone region, you’ll need to further reinforce your steel garage doors.

Reinforcements include struts, u-bars, hinges, galvanized rollers, and single or double-end stiles. 

The suitable materials for these reinforcements to maximize hurricane-proofing include:

  • Struts, stiles, and u-bars should be made of heavy-duty steel
  • Steel is the most durable material for hinges
  • Small hardware parts like rollers made of galvanized steel perform the best in hurricane conditions
Closeup on the track at the upper corner of a garage door

Thickness is essential when it comes to materials. Therefore, section thickness between 2” (5.08 cm) and 3” (7.62 cm) is recommended. 

Standard garage doors are made of lightweight materials that cannot withstand powerful hurricane winds. However, if your area rarely experiences powerful hurricanes during the season, you can get away with standard doors that are reinforced with additions, such as braces and panels.

A homeowner peers under the opening of his garage door and smiles as he opens it from inside

If your garage has any windows, you should ensure they’re hurricane-proof. Windows are susceptible to cracks caused by flying debris, which could pose devastating risks for your home. 

Depending on the hurricane intensity in your area, you can protect your windows by using high-impact or hurricane windows. You can learn more about hurricane-proof windows for your garage by reading our article explaining the differences between the two.

How To Test Your Garage Door’s Resistance Against Hurricane Forces

It’s impossible to simulate hurricane conditions at home without special equipment. 

Nevertheless, here’s how you can test your doors manually to get an idea of how hurricane-proof your garage doors are:

  1. Check the resistance of your doors – grab each track and try to twist and bounce it. If either is loose, you need to replace it with a stronger one as soon as possible. 
  2. Using a water hose aimed at your garage doors, simulate a heavy rainstorm and see how your water insulation is holding. 
  3. Manually check bolts and hinges to see if they’re loose – the bolts and hinges wear down over time, and it’s best to replace them with new ones if they’re loose or you’ve had them for more than two years.

The Best Additions To Strengthen Your Garage Doors

Hurricane braces are the best additions to your garage doors. These braces are heavy-duty steel constructs drilled into the floor and attached to the doors with brackets. Follow the instructions to install the hurricane braces of your choice.

Closeup on the top section of a Hurricane brace installed on a garage door's interior
Courtesy of Nu Code Shutters

Other valuable additions to your garage doors are wooden panels or storm shutters mounted on the outside. These will help you avoid damage from flying debris. 

Ensure that you choose steel storm shutters and OSB panels for maximum efficiency. OSB panels are the cheapest option of the two.

A worker installs hurricane shutters on a home's garage door

Are Wind-Resistant Reinforced Garage Doors Worth It?

Depending on where you live, wind-resistant garage doors might be legally required for your home. Garage doors are rated according to the wind speed resistance they offer. 

The needed resistance can range from 90mph (144.84 kph) to 180mph (289.62 kph)

You can check the wind load requirements for your area with the ASCE 7-22 tool

The following states require wind-resistant garage doors:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Utah

Using the right wind-resistant garage doors will not only keep your property safe, but also lower your insurance costs. Some states require additional safety features by law. You can read more about the Texas “Tie and Strap” code in this article, for instance.

two men working on ladders to install hurricane ties inside a roof of a white house
While getting the new roof done, we opted in to get hurricane ties installed. This halfed the homeowner’s insurance premium on the house, well worth it!

My Own Story With a Reinforced Garage Door in Hurricane Ian

To go along with the above regarding whether it’s worth it or not, I would say it’s a resourced yes.

Words can’t really describe the peace of mind you have when you know your house is hurricane-reinforced as a Category 4 hurricane is barreling toward you.

Just recently, Hurricane Ian hit our first netzero solar renovation house in Cape Coral, FL. We’re talking 140MPH+ winds for five to six hours straight. The house was fully hurricane-reinforced, which included:

  • Hurricane-reinforced garage door
  • New roof
  • Hurricane ties/straps – tying the trusses to the walls
  • Energy Star hurricane impact resistant PGT Wingard windows
  • Steel doors
  • A solar electric system installed by code to withstand 180MPH+

Here’s a picture of what it looked like after the storm passed:

a white house with trees down and flooding in the driveway after hurricane ian
You can see the exterior and the garage door, specifically, was basically unphased by the storm.
a white house with a grey roof and solar panels installed on it with no damage shown after hurricane ian
Here is the south side of the house after Hurricane Ian. You can see no damage to the roof, HVAC system, or the hurricane windows. This is also a wood-frame home, which actually allows for a bit of flex (and can be better) in high winds.

How to Hurricane-Proof Your Garage Door According to Your Location

Not all US states are affected by hurricanes. We’ve compiled the following table to help you choose the appropriate measures to help your garage withstand historical hurricane intensity in your area. 

The states are listed according to hurricane incidence data from an NOAA analysis of hurricanes that hit the US mainland between 1851-2010.

Suggested featuresUS State
Hurricane rated garage door, Hurricane braces AND storm shuttersFlorida, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia
Hurricane rated garage door, Hurricane braces OR storm shuttersNew York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia
Hurricane rated garage doorMaine, New Hampshire, Maryland
Standard garage door, Hurricane braces OR storm shuttersNew Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania
No necessary featuresRest of the states

Final Thoughts

Garage doors are one of the weak links in your home when a hurricane strikes. Having a hurricane-proof garage door will lessen the damage done to your property during this devastating event while also reducing the costs of your insurance.

Investing in a hurricane-rated garage door reinforced with hurricane braces and storm shutters is recommended if you live in an area where powerful hurricanes usually strike. Other areas that experience less destructive hurricanes can benefit from a reinforced garage door along with storm shutters or OSB panels.


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