Hurricane Resistant

A Look at Testing Standards and Procedures

08:30:00 AM on 08/12/2009

Hurricanes: it seemed growing up you rarely heard of them, though today we wait with anticipation for the yearly forecast of how many named storms there will be, and how many of those may develop into something more than just a rain storm over the ocean.  As we seem to stay glued to the news when there is the possibility of the formation of a new storm, the real question everyone has is when and where will it make land fall?  In most cases several scenarios or predicted paths of travel are discussed; however, the storms rarely hit the forecasted target. With hurricane season upon us, now might be a good time to discuss how hurricanes have changed the way we build. 

Andrew, a person’s name, why is this important?  Because terms like windborne debris, impact, impact resistant, hurricane rated, hurricane resistant, and Miami-Dade NOA became mainstays after Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida in August 1992. Across the region loss of property was huge and lives were turned upside down. 

As a result, many within the building industry and local governments decided we couldn’t let such property damage happen again.  So the development of impact standards as they are commonly known today began, Shoot a 2x4 at brick and block building components: probably doable; wood siding: might be doable; steel/wood doors: seems doable; a window with a piece of glass: are you crazy? But guess what? It was doable after all.  As the development of the impact and cycling standards began the “probably”, “might be”, and “seems doable” were not doable at first. The 2x4 went right through. After many rounds of R&D testing a standard was finally developed, and the “not doable” became “doable” after all. But many felt the standards were unrealistic and would not gain acceptance. Guess what? Many people were wrong.

Small_impact Click on the large missile impact test image (left) and small missile impact test images (right) to enlarge.

Click on the Kawneer website link below to learn more about missile test specifics. 
-> more

The South Florida Building Code was the first to adopt impact testing standards, known as “Protocol PA 201-94 Impact Test Procedure” and “Protocol PA 203 Criteria for Testing Products Subject to Cyclic Wind Pressure Loading”.  Additionally, the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) published its “SSTD 12-9 SBCCI Test Standard for Determining Impact Resistance from Windborne Debris”.  The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) got in the game in 1997 when it released its first publication, “ASTM E 1886-97 Standard Test Method for Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors and Storm Shutters Impacted by Missile(s) and Exposed to Cyclic Pressure Differentials”, to address the growing trend.  In 1999 ASTM published its second document “ASTM E 1996-99 Standard Specification for Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors and Storm Shutters Impacted by Windborne Debris in Hurricanes”. In 2000 the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) published “AAMA 506-00 Voluntary Specifications for Impact and Cycle Testing of Fenestration Products”.  Enough about testing procedures? Not quite. In 2001 The Florida Building Commission published its first state wide building code known as the Florida Building Code (FBC) 2001.  With the FBC came additional requirements known as Test Protocols for High Velocity Hurricane Zones, which established Testing Application Standards (TAS), TAS 201-94 Impact Test Procedures and TAS 203-94 Criteria for Testing Products Subject to Cyclic Wind Pressure Loading.

Kawneer has developed a web page and brochure that highlight key Hurricane Impact Resistance Information. Click on the links below to see more.

-> Web Page
- >Brochure


So what do all these standards, protocols, and documents mean today?  Generally confusion! Today products are usually tested, evaluated, and specified around meeting the requirements of the FBC-TAS 201, 203 and/or the ASTM E 1886/1996.  However, the AAMA 506-08 document is being referenced more and more.  Each of these standards varies, thus making the target for testing hard to hit…much as the hurricane landfall target is hard to hit.  As the requirements for impact and windborne debris protection become increasingly entrenched in codes, the use of products to meet the requirements will continue to grow. Let’s see…is there a market opportunity?


Watch for my next discussion on hurricane resistant products for the market.


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