DIY Install AstroGuard

The Complete Guide to Installing AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric Shutters


Installing AstroGuard fabric hurricane shutters is not difficult if you’re moderately handy, but the initial planning and calculations are more involved than they may seem. You’ll need to know things that are not evident from AstroGuard’s website. For example:
  • Fasteners can typically be spaced 12 inches apart for smaller openings, but for larger ones, they have to be closer, to meet code, and you need to know when. Even when the nominal spacing is 12 inches, placing the fasteners equidistant, for a more professional look, requires calculations.

  • If you buy precut fabric and clips from AstroGuard, you may require more clips and fasteners than they send, so you need to know how many — or where you can get a better deal on fabric and hardware.

  • You’ll need to provide a way to get in and out of your house, without tools, after all the shutters are up (this is a requirement in Florida and important whether it’s code or not), which involves additional materials.

  • You’ll need to know what to expect when you pull a permit — and why you should pull a permit.

The free spreadsheet posted below is the heart of this job — it will make figuring out what you need, where to buy it, and how much the job will cost much easier. It allows you to enter the sizes of your windows and doors and calculates the fabric sizes and number of clips, fasteners, and accessories, along with the total cost, including tools, tax, and shipping. It also includes a list of suppliers. 

The spreadsheet is an .xls file that contains no macros and works in all versions of Excel. It has two identical worksheets. Enter the relevant information for your house on the blank sheet and use the other for reference. You should also save a backup. If you have more than twenty openings to cover, you can add rows and copy the formulas down. If you have fewer, you can hide or delete the extra rows. Either way, make sure the cells with totals reflect the correct range above them.

Important Notice

The information on this site is correct to the best of my knowledge. It is based on my own experience with the product and installation and is not supported or endorsed by AstroGuard or any other company. You should follow city, county, and state building codes, including obtaining any permit required by law. I ASSUME NO LIABILITY for your application of this material and the outcome, successful or otherwise, including building code compliance and protection from weather events.

It is essential to read the installation documents and watch the videos on AstroGuard’s website for points that are not covered here, especially for nonstandard installations.

I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with AstroGuard, except as a customer, and I derive no income from this site. It is purely informational and noncommercial. If you notice any errors, you can email errors [at] diyinstallastroguard [dot] com, but I cannot provide support for the information presented herein. If you have questions, please contact AstroGuard’s support at info [at] hurricanefabric [dot] com.

 

Section 1: Window and Door Sizes

The sheet is divided into three sections. In Section 1, list your windows and doors in column B. AstroGuard recommends starting at the front door and going clockwise around the house, but I didn’t do that. Green-shaded cells are where you enter data. Salmon-shaded cells show calculated width values, and blue-shaded cells show calculated height values.

  1. Measure the width and height of each opening, in inches, and enter them in columns D and G, respectively.
  1. On the sides where you’re going to attach the fabric — typically the left and right — add 4 inches of overlap on each side for masonry or 1 inch for wood. Enter the total — typically 8 inches for masonry or 2 inches for wood — in column E.

Although AstroGuard says (e.g., in Hurricane Fabric Installation Notes) that clips on the non-attaching sides aren’t essential, they recommend installing them 2–3 feet apart where possible on openings over 4 feet wide, to prevent the fabric from sagging or billowing. For some openings, you’ll be able to attach them at the top and bottom; for others, only at the top. If you use male PanelMate fasteners, which project from the wall, you may want to use female fasteners below a door, or none at all, for aesthetic reasons and so that people don’t trip on them.

AstroGuard's "Measuring for Hurricane Fabric Panels" says, "If a window has a protruding bottom sill, you may either terminate the Fabric at the sill or overlap the sill."

  1. Whether you plan to use clips at the top and bottom or not, you’ll still need to overlap the fabric at the top by 4 inches for masonry or 1 inch for wood. The bottom would be the same unless there's no room. Enter the totals in column H. If you have protruding sills and plan to overlap them, add the sill thickness in column I.

Columns F and J give you the total width and height of fabric needed, in inches. Column K gives you the square footage, for reference.

I cannot emphasize enough the necessity of checking and rechecking your measurements, and preferably having someone else check them too, in case you make a mistake or change your mind (although some things you may discover only during installation). For example:

  • I was going to use insert anchors on either side of my front door. However, I discovered that those walls are not block, like the rest of the house, but wood-framed, so I ended up putting countersunk female anchors in the door molding. This changed the size of the door panel I had planned to use and the number and types of anchors I needed. 

  • I have windows with 4-inch-thick concrete sills that I was originally going to cover. However, this would have added 8 inches to the bottom of each window panel and, on wider windows, necessitated anchors and clips for the bottom. According to AstroGuard, covering the sills is not essential, so I changed the panel sizes after I had ordered the fabric. As a result, I was able to return a stock fabric piece to Home Depot and avoid buying a number of additional anchors and clips, saving several hundred dollars.

  • I was going to place clips at the bottom of two sliding glass door panels but decided, as in the previous example, that it wasn't necessary. But when I installed those panels, it seemed like clips on the bottom would be helpful, so I added them. Also, I assumed that the two doors, which are the same size, would have the same anchor spacing. However, I didn't notice until after I installed the anchors on one door that the other had a foundation vent on one side where the bottom anchor would go. I therefore had to eliminate that anchor on both sides and respace the others. So the two identical doors, side by side, have different anchor spacing. Assume nothing!

Section 2: Materials 

The sheet transfers the necessary information into Section 2. If you’re buying fabric from AstroGuard, they’ll precut the fabric to your specifications and include the number of clips and anchors you need, though they give you only the minimum necessary for the attachment sides, plus a few extras (according to their site). So if you plan to install some at the top and/or bottom, you’ll need to add them to your order.

You can order six stock sizes from Home Depot (they’re actually drop-shipped from AstroGuard), which may be somewhat less expensive than ordering from AstroGuard. However, you’ll have to figure out how to fit the sizes of your windows and doors onto HD’s six stock sizes, to minimize the number of pieces needed. The spreadsheet will help you compare costs. In this case, I spent somewhat more assembling the components myself — although originally it was less — but ordering from AstroGuard would also require more clips and anchors, along with F-track and bolts (see Egress) and some additional tools.

If you buy from Home Depot, I recommend making a drawing like the one below, showing how each piece you need fits onto their stock sizes (listed in Section 3), to reduce the likelihood of mistakes. I’ve given each size a number in Section 3, column D (hyperlinked to the relevant HD webpage). When you know how many of each size you’ll need, enter the fabric item number in column I and the cost in column J. Also indicate in column I where a piece of fabric will share a stock size with one or more other pieces.

To continue entering data in Section 2, we need to obtain more information.

Permit 

A permit may be required for hurricane shutters where you live, but even if not, it’s a good idea to obtain one, for several reasons. First, if you sustain damage during a hurricane, a building inspector’s approval can help support a claim that the installation was done correctly, which could have ramifications for your insurance reimbursement.

Second, spacing of fasteners is important and depends on several factors I discuss below, including the pressure the shutters will have to withstand. This is specific to your area. When you go for a permit, the plans examiner will look up the relevant pressures and give you a document specifying them. If you wing it and get them wrong, it could cause your installation to fail during a hurricane.

Third, if you don’t get a permit and a building inspector happens to see the job, you could be required to put in more fasteners — possibly more than you needed if you have to put them between existing ones. This is also not the most attractive look for a house.

Wind Zones and PSF 

When you go for a permit, you’ll initially meet with a plans examiner and describe what you intend to do. He’ll ask for an outline of the house, made with a straightedge (it doesn’t have to be to scale), showing the locations of the windows and doors. Also, in Florida at least, he’ll give you a sheet like the one below, showing the required design pressure, positive or negative, that the fabric has to withstand on each opening, in pounds per square foot (PSF).

The design pressure depends on where on the wind speed map your house is located. For Indian River County, on Florida’s east coast, the wind zones are east and west of I-95, which runs north-south. West of I-95 is a 150 mph exposure zone, and east of it, closer to the ocean, is a 160 mph zone. The pressure in PSF for your zone determines your fastener and clip spacing.

When I brought in the drawing of my house and applied for the permit, I noticed that the wind-zone document I received at the initial visit said (at the top) that the exposure zone was B, as you can see from the document above. However, the initial examiner had circled the pressures for zone C, which are higher and could mean closer fastener spacing for larger openings. When I went back later with some additional questions, I pointed this out to the second examiner, who agreed, crossed out the zone C pressures, and circled the ones for zone B. So pay attention!

Even within the 160 or 150 mph exposure zones, a window or door can be in zone 4 or zone 5 of the building (specified in the Florida Building Code). A zone 5 opening is 4 feet or less from a corner, and zone 4 is anywhere else. The wind pressure near a corner is higher, so a shutter has to be able to withstand the higher pressure.

In this case, according to the wind-zone sheet, the maximum pressure an exposure B opening would have to withstand is -37.1 PSF for zone 5 (i.e., within 4 feet of a corner). But at least both zones 4 and 5 were in the 30 PSF range, which meant I could use the 30 PSF column of the fastener-spacing table on the engineering drawings (downloadable from AstroGuard). If I’d had exposure C pressures, as the examiner originally indicated, the maximum is -44.9 PSF, which would mean I’d have to use the 40 PSF column in the fastener-spacing table, requiring closer spacing.

If this is beginning to sound like the tutsi-fruitsi scene from Day at the Races, that’s exactly what I felt like and one of the main reasons I created this site — to try to help others navigate through it.

The plans examiner also asked me to write the Florida product approval numbers at the bottom. These appear on the engineering drawings on AstroGuard’s site. I recommend downloading and printing them out on 11 x 17-inch sheets at a big-box office store and bringing them with you for moral support.

Engineering Drawings 

In most cases, if you live in Florida outside the Miami-Dade high-velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ), the FL15208 drawing, which is only two pages and has only two fastener tables, should suffice. If you’re in a high-velocity zone or have a more complex installation, consult the FL17661 drawing.

The FL15208 drawing doesn’t actually have the Florida approval number on it, which the plans examiner or building inspector may want to see. AstroGuard has a “Product Evaluation Report” from their engineering company, not currently on their website, with the Florida approval number on it, that references the engineering drawing, though it refers to drawing #12-0226 when the drawing actually says 15-0226. Nevertheless, I recommend obtaining this document from AstroGuard, along with their “Reverse Attachment Addendum” drawing, also not on their site, which specifies how a fabric shutter can be attached to allow egress from a door without tools, as required by the Florida building code.

Fastener Spacing 

As part of calculating the fastener spacing, enter the relevant zone in column K — 5 for any opening within 4 feet of a corner and 4 for all others. The only opening that rates a zone 5 on my house is one side of the garage door, which is less than 4 feet from a corner. Therefore, the whole opening is a zone 5 and requires a design pressure of 40 PSF. The rest are zone 4 and require only 30 PSF. Enter the design pressures in column L. (Update: I originally thought the design pressure for zone 5 was 40 PSF, based on the document I received from the Building Department. After it was corrected, and it turned out zones 4 and 5 were both in the 30 PSF range (see above), I neglected to change the PSF for the garage from 40 to 30 on the spreadsheet. This would have made the vertical spacing in column N 6 inches instead of 5, reducing the number of clips and anchors by 6.) 

Finding the vertical spacing required, for column M (assuming left- and right-side attachment), requires consulting the appropriate fastener spacing table in the engineering drawing. The table you use depends on the fasteners you’re going to install, the type of wall you’re going to install them in, and the design pressure for each opening.

There are three main types of fasteners for hurricane shutters, all made by Elco under their PanelMate brand (page references below are to their catalog, which you can download here).

  • Insert anchors (p. 6). These are primarily for concrete or masonry but can also be used for wood. There are two lengths: S (short) and L (long). The short ones are 1 7/8 inches, for conventional block walls, and the long ones are 2 1/8 inches, for block walls with a stucco exterior. They have 1/4-20 interior threads that take either 1-inch or 1 1/4-inch sidewalk bolts. (I don’t know — maybe because they have a flat head and could be used in a sidewalk without people tripping on them.) These require drilling a 7/16-inch hole and are screwed in with a 5/16-inch hex driver. I used L anchors, because I have stucco over block.

  • Male anchors (p. 2). These come in various lengths and have a section that screws into the wall and a shorter stud, either 7/8 inch or 1 1/8 inch, that projects from it. The fasteners are typically used in wood but can also be used in masonry or concrete. They’re installed with a female driver that fits over the hex head. A wingnut secures the AstroGuard clip on the stud; a wingnut driver bit is available to expedite shutter installation and removal. White plastic caps are available to protect the threads when shutters are not installed. (I learned from Elco that they no longer make these, owing to low demand, so unless someone else steps up, they may be increasingly hard to find.)
  • Female anchors (p. 3). These are like male anchors, but instead of a stud at the top, they have a 1/2-inch threaded body that accepts a 1/4-20 sidewalk bolt. The head is typically countersunk in the wall. Combination countersink bits are available that will drill the 7/32-inch hole for the screw and a 1/2-inch hole for the body simultaneously, but they’re about $40. If you have only a few anchors to install, you can drill the screw holes with a 7/32- or 3/16-inch bit and then countersink them with a 1/2-inch bit. I initially tried a spiral bit for the countersink but found that it chewed up the wood around the hole, so I switched to a spade bit. The anchors are installed with the same 5/16-inch hex driver as the insert anchors.

Elco also makes male and female TVAS (Through-Veneer Anchoring System) fasteners (p. 4) for brick walls, in various lengths. These are male or female anchors that are long enough to pass through brick veneer and anchor to the building’s structure.

The anchor type, wall type, and design pressure determine fastener spacing, which is found in the fastener tables. 

Fastener Tables 

The fastener tables in AstroGuard’s engineering drawings require you to select, first, the type of anchor you’re using — this is in the head of the table. Then, for that anchor, select the appropriate column for the type of wall: filled or hollow CMU (concrete masonry unit, i.e., block), concrete, or timber. 

Block walls are usually filled with mortar around window and door openings, to strengthen them. You can tell if yours are by drilling at the four corners, where anchors would go in all cases: 4 1/2 inches to the side of the opening at 2 inches below the top or above the bottom of where the fabric will be. If the block is hollow, the drill will suddenly meet no resistance after it passes through the exterior of the block. If it's filled, it will be like drilling solid concrete. However, blocks have a solid web in the middle, so if you happen to drill into that, the block will seem solid, even if it isn't filled. Therefore, you'll need to test both sides of the opening, and preferably more than one opening. If you can't determine whether the blocks are filled or hollow, use the hollow column, which is more restrictive.

In the fastener tables, each column for the wall material has subcolumns for pressure ratings: 30, 40, 50, and 60 PSF. Choose the pressure(s) appropriate to each opening, as determined from your entries in column L. Then look in the left column for the span you’re covering.

The table at the lower left of p. 1 in AstroGuard's FL15208 drawing, reproduced below, is for Elco 1/4-inch PanelMate Pro Male and Female anchors. Since insert anchors also use 1/4-inch fasteners (sidewalk bolts), AstroGuard advises using this table for them. For example, with hollow block walls, look under Hollow CMU in the 30 PSF pressure column. You’ll see that the spacing is 12 inches for spans up to 6 feet. Spans of 6–8 feet require 9-inch spacing, 8–10 feet require 7-inch spacing, and so on. With Filled CMU, you can go up to an 8-foot span with 12-inch fastener spacing.

Check nontypical openings to make sure they take the same kind of fastener as the rest of the house. As I mentioned above, my front door is framed with wood rather than block, but the exterior of the house is stucco, so the difference isn't apparent without drilling test holes. For a wood-framed door in a block house, remember to use the Timber column in the anchor table.

Because of the wood framing, I used female Panelmate anchors on my front door, installed in the door molding, 1 inch out from the opening.

Spacing Calculations

For each opening, enter the wall type in column M. Enter the nominal vertical fastener spacing in column N. Column O shows the actual vertical spacing for equidistant clips, starting at 2 inches below the top or above the bottom of the fabric. Column P shows the number of vertical clips for each opening.

AstroGuard says horizontal clips are unnecessary for openings less than 4 feet wide. However, if you have a window that is just over 4 feet, you may not want to use a horizontal clip. Enter in cell S25 the minimum width of an opening, in inches (typically 48, 54, or 60), for which you want to use optional horizontal clips. Enter in cell S26 the maximum spacing, in inches (typically 24, 30, or 36), for the optional horizontal clips. Column Q shows the number of optional clips to install across the top. If you want to change the number of horizontal clips, enter the desired number in column Q. In column R, enter the number of clips, if any, to install across the bottom.

Column S shows the actual horizontal spacing for equidistant clips at the top or bottom, starting at the left edge of the fabric (not 1 or 2 inches in). It's shown to only one decimal place, since horizontal spacing isn't as critical as vertical (assuming primary attachment is on the sides).

On a masonry house, if you don't have enough room above the opening to place anchors at 4 1/2 inches, you have two choices, either of which is acceptable, according to AstroGuard: 

  • Cut the top off the clip at the second notch, or

  • Place the anchor closer to the edge of the opening (but probably not less than 3 inches, to avoid cracking), which will require inserting the fabric farther into the clip, to the second notch. This will necessitate perforating the fabric in the clip's anchor hole after attaching the clip. You can use your Phillips drill/driver to create the hole, then push it through from the back to expose the fibers. Insert the point of a utility knife in the hole and rotate it to cut off the fibers; otherwise, they'll prevent the sidewalk bolt from passing through. If you place the anchor hole 3 1/4 inches above the opening, the gripping edge of the clip will be right at the edge of the opening, and the top of the clip will extend 1 1/4 inches above the center of the anchor hole.

Column T shows the total number of clips for each opening, with the grand total at the bottom.

In most cases, the number of anchors, in column U, will be the same as the number of clips. However, if one type of opening, such as a door, uses a different type of fastener, that number would go in column V. (This is not automatic — you’d need to paste the formula from column U into any other cells in column V to which this applies and delete the formulas from the corresponding cells in column U.)

Egress

The Florida Building Code requires that, with shutters installed, at least one door must allow egress from the inside without tools. You can accomplish this with a reverse F-track, as shown. It's 2 x 2 x 1/8 inch thick x 8 feet long; you cut it to the appropriate length. Alternatively, you could use an aluminum angle bracket with the same dimensions, which is easier to find but more expensive. You'd also need carriage bolts or machine screws with wingnuts to fasten to the clips.

On the hinge side of the door (left, in the photo), fasten the shutter clips to the wall in the usual way. If you're using female PanelMates, you'll need 1-inch bolts; 1 1/4-inch bolts are toof-track-end.jpg (19438 bytes) long. On the doorknob side, drill holes in the F-track flange to permit installing it to the anchors with 3/4-inch sidewalk bolts or wingnuts, depending on the anchor type. (Instead of 3/4-inch bolts, I could have used 1-inch with a couple of washers under the head, which is what I'd do next time. I'd also use 1-inch instead of 1 1/4-inch for the rest of the house. This would allow using only 1-inch bolts for the entire project.) 

The clips on the hinge side should have the right angle projecting inward, toward the inside of the house. Slide F-track bolts  (which have a square head) into the track’s channel and through the right-angle end of each clip, and secure them from inside the house with wingnuts. (Or, if you're using plain angle bracket, drill holes at the appropriate spacings, insert the carriage bolts or machine screws through the flange and clips, and secure with wingnuts.)

Enter the number of F-track bolts you need for each opening in column W.

Hardware

Cells T42:X42 show the total of each type of hardware item you need. Cells T43:X43 allow you to enter the number you want to buy, including extras. Use these numbers in Section 3.

When shutters are not in place, female anchors must be filled, to prevent them from accumulating debris. Use either the sidewalk bolts or nylon screws. A couple of vendors sell 1/4-20 x 1/2-inch nylon screws — one of them describes them as "push-in," and technically they can be pushed into a female Panelmate or insert anchor, but it requires some effort, and they can't be pulled out — a drill-driver with a slotted blade is required. This can add a fair amount of time to putting up and removing shutters. I have about 300 insert anchors, and even if I average five nylon screws per minute (I can't), that's an hour for removal and another for replacement. Also, the nylon screw heads occasionally snap off when being screwed in. This typically requires removing and replacing the anchor, so the failure of a ten-cent part requires replacing a $1.80 part. 

It seemed to me that the solution was to use a smaller-diameter nylon screw that really was "push-in" and "pull-out" also, to eliminate the need for a power tool to insert and remove them. The next smaller size from 1/4" is #12, but nylon screws, it turns out, aren't available in that size. However, the analogous metric size, M5, is available, and M5.8 x 25mm (approximately 1 inch long) is what I used for the insert anchors. McMaster-Carr is one of the few places that sell these. Female Panelmates have a shorter barrel than the insert anchors and can take only a 12mm screw (1/2 inch), which may not be long enough to stay in. I have these only on my front door, so I just use the "push-in" nylon screws (which I screw in) for them.

The metric screws are snug enough in the hole to stay in but can be removed with fingers, although it can be a little tricky because of the snugness. What I also tried, and works well, is to use a small, portable vacuum cleaner to suck them right out. It takes just a second for each one. This is much faster than replacing the sidewalk bolts and, in most cases, less noticeable. (If you have a set of cordless tools, many manufacturers make a small vacuum as part of the set.)

Column X shows the number of nylon screws needed for female anchors or plastic caps for male anchors. They come in bags of 100. The 1/4-20 screws have another disadvantage: they don't have a Phillips drive, so unless you have a hard-to-find wide blade, you may chew up the slots.

Section 3: Vendors and Costs 

Section 3 lists the various materials and tools you’ll need, in column B. A list of vendors is at the bottom of the column; not all of them carry all items you’ll need, and their prices vary considerably. Enter the desired vendor's names in column C.

For the fabric, I’ve entered the six sizes available from Home Depot in columns E–I, with the item number I assigned each one in column D, hyperlinked to the relevant Home Depot webpage. Prices are in column J, but these could change, so enter current prices if necessary. Column K indicates the cost per square foot of fabric or unit cost for clips.

In column L, enter the quantity of each stock size you need. The total cost appears in column M.

Clips from Home Depot are similar: they come in four package sizes. Calculate the number you’ll need to cover the total, at the bottom of Section 2, column R, plus some extras, and enter the desired quantity of each package size in column L. Enter any tax and shipping costs in column O.

Similarly, in the Hardware/Supplies and Tools sections, enter the vendors, package sizes, cost, and quantity in the appropriate columns, along with tax and shipping. The final totals for materials, tools, tax, and shipping appear below the table.

I initially assumed I had filled CMU, but when I drilled a few test holes at the corners, I found they were mostly hollow, which meant closer spacing. I needed more anchors and had to reorder, which is the reason for two orders in rows 63 and 64.

Installation 

AstroGuard's installation video shows them installing clips on the fabric first, then marking the location of the upper left hole and installing an anchor, then the upper right hole, then the rest of the clips. An Australian video on YouTube does it the other way: installing the anchors first, then fastening a clip to each one and fitting the fabric to each clip. According to AstroGuard, either way is okay, though they say the first method is easier for DIYers.

They're right. I did it the second way, because I didn't want to start by cutting up pieces of expensive fabric, but I wouldn't do it again. If you install the anchors first, the width of the fabric is not going to be exactly what you calculated on paper — you'll need to cut it to fit the distance between the clips, which is cumbersome. Of course, if you cut the fabric first and then find you measured incorrectly or your plans change, you may have wasted a piece of fabric. So measure the dimensions of the openings several times, and preferably have someone else confirm them. Wait a day or two between each measurement — you may decide to make changes to your design along the way.

Drilling 

I used a Makita rotary hammer rather than a hammer drill, which may have been overkill, but I already had the tool and knew it worked well in block and concrete. Installing anchors or lag screws in masonry can be problematic, so I ordered extra anchors, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they all went in with no problem. Drilling into stucco-covered block with a percussion tool involves a lot of noise, dust, and grit, so be sure to use ear and eye protection and a dust mask. Then blow out the holes with a bulb syringe, to keep the dust and grit from interfering with anchor insertion. If a sidewalk bolt binds when screwing it in for the first time, remove it, blow out the anchor, wipe dust off the bolt, then reinstall it.

AstroGuard's "Hardware 101" says,

Do not start your hammer drill in the "hammer" position. Use the drilling position to start a countersink then switch to hammer. This will avoid the drill bit "walking."

Avoid driving anchors while in the "hammer" position. For DIY customers and new installers, it is a good idea to drive the anchor to within 1/4" of flush, then finish with the hex driver in a ratchet. This will minimize stucco cracking.

Instead of switching from drill to hammer drill and back for each hole, I pressed the bit firmly against the block and started the drill slowly, to create a pilot indentation, then sped up to full power. But doing it the other way may decrease stucco cracking.

Finishing anchor installation with a ratchet may increase the time you spend installing anchors, but doing it entirely with a drill requires going around afterward to patch the cracked stucco, which doesn't provide as good a result — it's hard to match the original finish.

If patching is necessary, stucco patching compound, both premixed and dry, is available at home improvement stores. Before applying it, put nylon screws or sidewalk bolts in the anchors, to avoid getting stucco or paint in them. I found that applying the stucco patch with a putty knife made it hard to create a clean finish around the circular anchors, so I switched to an artist's palette knife, available at craft stores. I bought two sizes and ended up using the smaller one. To remove excess stucco patch after it dries, you can use coarse (30 or 40 grit) sandpaper and a reciprocating or belt sander. Neither the patched nor sanded finish compares to the original, so avoid if at all possible.

The center of the sidewalk-bolt hole in the clip is 1/2 inch beyond the edge of fabric inserted to the first notch. So for masonry, the anchor would be 4 1/2 inches out from the edge of the opening. For wood, it would be 1 1/2 inches, but this may not be possible if you're drilling into the molding around the opening. AstroGuard's "Measuring for Hurricane Fabric Panels" says, "Many people have concerns over trim boards surrounding the opening. ... The anchors [i.e., length] will be sized accordingly, to go through the trim board, the siding and still have proper embedment in the structural timber." I placed the female PanelMates 1 inch from the edge in 2-inch-wide molding. If you have wider molding, you could put them farther out (i.e., in the center).

You can use female PanelMate anchors for wood and countersink the head, then put nylon screws in them and paint them to match the trim. It's not terribly elegant, but it's an unavoidable compromise if you live in an area subject to hurricanes. Since the head is only 1/2 inch deep, you'll need 3/4-inch-long sidewalk bolts to fasten the F-track to the house and 1-inch-long bolts to fasten the clips to the house on the other side. Alternatively, as I mentioned earlier, you could use 1-inch-long bolts with a couple of washers under the head to fasten the F-track to the house.  

I originally bought 1 1/4-inch sidewalk bolts for the house but subsequently found I needed 1-inch and 3/4-inch for the front door. As I mentioned earlier, had I known, I would have just bought 1-inch bolts for the whole project, using only one size instead of three. The bolts must have at least 1/2 inch of thread in the anchor, according to the engineering drawings, and in the PanelMate female anchor, that's all that's available. This means that for attaching clips to these anchors, 1 1/4-inch bolts are too long (unless you use washers) and 3/4-inch bolts are too short. The only use for 3/4-inch bolts is to attach an F-track to the anchors.

Vertically, I spaced down 2 inches from the top of the fabric and up 2 inches from the bottom, in all cases. The gripping end of the clip is 3 inches wide, so 1 1/2 inches of it is above (and below) the anchor, bringing it to 1/2 inch of the edge of the fabric.

Extensions

Most of my windows are recessed from the exterior walls by about 4 inches, but the breezeway windows are flush with the exterior wall. I looked into using a 3-inch F-track extension to move the fabric out from the window, hoping to reduce the likelihood of glass breakage in case of debris striking the fabric. However, the width of the breezeway shutters precluded this — no anchor spacing was shown for spans this wide, even for shorter extensions (i.e., 1 or 2 inches).

Also, the lab test report on AstroGuard fabric gives the screen deflection for each test performed; the smallest deflection was about 9 inches, with some being much higher, depending on the test. So for any practical distance between the fabric and the window, it may not be possible to completely avoid broken glass from a debris strike. However, the important thing, according to online sources, is to make sure the window stays covered even if the glass breaks, to avoid having wind enter and blow the roof off the house.

Tools

I bought extra drill bits and drivers, but I was surprised: one 7/16-inch Dewalt SDS drill bit did all 290 holes. I bought it from a hurricane supply vendor, but it's available on Amazon for half the cost.

The two Elco drivers, ENY192, lasted only 25 or so anchors each before the hex corners rounded off. I contacted Elco and spoke to the sales director for anchors & fastening, who thought it might be a heat-treatment problem. He asked me to send the two drivers to their quality-control person and shipped me two ENY194 drivers, which are an inch longer and are shaped differently. They worked fine — one was sufficient for all the remaining anchors. Before ordering a driver, check that it's ENY194 (shown) and not ENY192. (I indicate only one drill bit and driver ordered on the spreadsheet, since that's really all that's necessary.)

While awaiting the replacement drivers, I tried a makeshift, which will work in a pinch. AstroGuard includes a short piece of hex stock, which by itself doesn't fit in an impact driver, but you can use a 5/16-inch nutdriver, which comes in most bit sets, to hold it. Tape the two pieces together with duct tape. I also bought (and later returned) a set of long-arm hex wrenches at Home Depot for $10 — if necessary, I could have cut pieces of the 5/16-inch wrench to insert in the nutdriver. 

Storage

AstroGuard sells nylon drawstring duffel bags to store the panels, but they're expensive and may not be large enough, depending on how many panels you have. I bought 30 x 40-inch nylon drawstring bags on eBay, three for $10, which were sufficient to store the 621 square feet of panels, so each one is good for approximately 200 square feet per bag.

Note: One disadvantage of fabric shutters may not be readily apparent. After a hurricane, many people leave their metal shutters or plywood sheets in place on nonessential windows or doors until the hurricane season is over. With fabric shutters, you can't do that — according to AstroGuard, ultraviolet rays from the sun will degrade the fabric. They say that after a hurricane, the shutters should be allowed to dry, then taken down and put away. 


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