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toddbeck 02-01-2011 07:49 PM

Will wire mesh make my room hurricane safe?
I live in Tampa but not in an evacuation zone, so flooding (including run-off) is not a concern. If a hurricane comes, I'll hunker down at home. My home is reinforced cinderblock built to 1999 code, and I feel relatively safe here. But there is no interior room or closet large enough for 12 hours for 4+ people.

I'm thinking of reinforcing one bedroom because it has reinforced block on three sides and the entire house on the fourth side. I don't want to demo and rebuild it as a "safe room," but just want to add some level of protection.

Here's my idea. I want to fasten tight-weave wire mesh (or some sort of perforated metal) as a "cage" over the existing sheetrock--including the ceiling--tied into the studs and rafters. The purpose of the cage would be protection from projectiles. Then I would put another layer of cosmetic sheetrock over that and mud/paint as normal. The thicker walls wouldn't impact much of the room space. I would put full hurricane shutters on the window and have to figure out some way to reinforce the door, maybe with an exterior door.

Is that a total waste of time and money in terms of hurricane protection? Is the only reasonable investment to pull all the ceiling down and reinforce the ceiling with cross-studs, 2 layers of plywood, etc? If I do that I have to replace the insulation and it's a much bigger project than I want to do.

Please go ahead and tear this idea apart. Thank you!

waterman1971 02-01-2011 07:56 PM

Are you talking about expanded metal? This material is commonly found on landscape trailer tailgates.

toddbeck 02-01-2011 08:00 PM


Originally Posted by waterman1971 (Post 582799)
Are you talking about expanded metal? This material is commonly found on landscape trailer tailgates.

No, probably not anything that strong, simply for cost. I was thinking a more flexible mesh--some sort of fencing maybe? If it's going to be too expensive, too hard to work with, or too awkward from an electrical fire hazard standpoint, then I don't want to do it.

waterman1971 02-01-2011 08:05 PM

Maybe you could get creative with some sort of sheetmetal. I have seen places that use old corrugated roof metal as a finished surface. Looks pretty nice when done correctly, and may serve your intended purpose. Just an idea.

toddbeck 02-01-2011 08:56 PM


Originally Posted by waterman1971 (Post 582813)
Maybe you could get creative with some sort of sheetmetal. I have seen places that use old corrugated roof metal as a finished surface. Looks pretty nice when done correctly, and may serve your intended purpose. Just an idea.

I hadn't thought about sheetmetal. There's no way my wife would let me leave that as the finished wall, but I could still sandwich it between the sheetrock. Corrugation might add too much thickness. But maybe flat sheetmetal.

I'm starting to think this sounds like the CIA's privacy rooms that block electronic bugs. No cell phone or radio reception in my hurricane room, I guess.

gma2rjc 02-01-2011 09:26 PM

I don't know anything about reinforcing a wall for hurricanes, but it seems that if a sheet of corrugated metal were to let loose in that room at hurricane speeds, the edges of it could be like a knife's blade flying toward your family members.


This is an interesting subject for a thread. I'm looking forward to seeing what others suggest.

proremodel 02-01-2011 10:39 PM

I would do it a little differently-- if your ready to rock over it pull the old rock down on both sides of the wall. Then run wire mesh continuously from one wall to the other then wrap it around the door way across the facing wall. Then toss your rock back on it. That way you sandwich it and never see it. If you think you would like more protection double up the wire mesh.

To the door- get a steel entry door but you can get them with a normal frame. You might want to also add a door blocker (can't think of the name-- but crosses the door so it can't be opened from the other side) That way it doesn't blow in.

Termite 02-02-2011 12:16 AM

New home? Old home? Personally I believe it is a waste of time to try to reinforce a room in an older home that very likely wasn't designed for the wind loads that a hurricane puts on a home. What I'm saying is the wire mesh is of little value if the home is giving in to the wind loads.

I think the light gauge mesh idea won't work all that well in defending you against spear-like projectiles doing 120mph. Expanded metal would, but that takes us back to paragraph 1.

bobrice 02-08-2011 07:41 AM

Katy Bar
Okay Todd, here’s my take on your idea. First, from your description, you would attach the mesh to the block walls. If the walls fail and fall, the mesh goes with them. I don’t see the protection there. You have other more vulnerable areas than the walls. Here’s where I see weak points where you might be able to shore up for more security.

First, you have three points of vulnerability: roof (if it blows off), windows, and doors.

Let’s start with the roof. They are more likely to be blown up from pressure inside the house than off from pressure outside the house. The pressure from within comes from wind blowing in the windows or doorways. So, to keep the roof on ...

Reinforce the windows. I got tired of putting shutters up and taking them down, sometimes multiple times. This spring I finished a year-long project replacing all my windows with impact windows. No more shutters and just as much protection without the fuss. Shutters are also a great option if you want to deal with the hassle and enjoy living in a cave for a few days. Another – more expensive than shutters but far more practical – is hurricane mesh that you can attach over each window easily and still get light into the house. Easier to store and less hassle. Whatever your choice, do all of the windows, not just the safe room. Otherwise, there goes the roof. Then it’s on to ...

Doors. One poster on the blog mentioned a bar. It’s actually called a Katy Bar (as in “Katy Bar the door”). You can find them online. I recommend one for every exterior door on the house that opens inward. You can also install one on your safe room, if that brings you comfort. And don’t forget the garage door. Until I built a pair of door reinforcements, my “plan” was to leave a car in the garage, place a sheet of ¾ inch plywood against the door and back the car up to it to keep the door from blowing in. Crude. Potentially effective. More likely a façade.

As for the mesh on the walls, I don’t see that adding anything more than psychological benefit. And the mess from the work will be horrific.

pyper 02-08-2011 04:38 PM

I doubt the mesh would do much.

toddbeck 02-08-2011 04:49 PM


Originally Posted by pyper (Post 587226)

I doubt the mesh would do much.

I was heartened to see how well the block walls did. So at least on 3 sides I have reasonable protection. It's that fourth side that worries me. Interestingly, the missiles didn't go all the way through but eventually lost momentum. So maybe getting through the 2 or 3 drywall walls will slow them enough not to impale me. I should probably build a block safe room and call it a day.

Bud Cline 02-08-2011 06:13 PM

Why wouldn't you contact your local Building department folks and let them tell what would be best if anything. Did you dream this up during the night? Have you ever seen this done anywhere? I have no idea but I'm reasonably sure there are already existing specifications and recommendations for your area.:)

Don't see any reason to re-invent the wheel.:)

merle 02-08-2011 06:15 PM

That would be my suggestion. Tear down the inside wall and rebuild it with reinfoced concrete block. add a steel door and you are going to be as safe as possible.

concretemasonry 02-08-2011 08:07 PM

Since you have ruled out safe room or "safe cell" similar to the proven FEMA standards, it still might be wise to look at the standards and the criteria for hurricane/tornado disasters. The criteria is based on the most common problems, which are projectiles and not just a little water or a roof system failing.

In your situation, the block walls on 3 sides would do well and the fourth wall may have some protection from the other exterior walls when it comes to projectiles. It took about 10 years of testing and lobbying to get an addition the the two long acceptable walls (8" reinforced concrete or 8" reinforced block) until a wood frame wall was approved and it was wall framed 12" o.c. and covered with layers of steel plate and 3/4" plywood (not flimsy mesh). - 12' long 2x4 at about 140 mph from an air cannon with no penetration.

The real problem for the original poster is the ceiling and roof, since roofs, even with clips, are blown off frequently or collapse inward. that is why the FEMA standard is a concrete roof structure even in the basement of a house. The door obviously must open inward so it can be opened with debris in front of it.

The get huge insurance discounts, a building code is a waste of time since the code (minimum legal standard to stay out of jail) is simplistic and easy to administer and not always what should be done. There are two things in these standards that are there to keep a roof system in place.

1. The gable ends need to be build and braced better than code.

2. Garage doors must be substantial and stopped or able to be anchored to the floor.

If these are not done, it opens up the house to uplift and the roof system to be removed easily.

The insurance requirements for the 40-60% insurance discounts are a voluntary program and are for good construction beyond the minimal codes, even though Florida has better some good code requirements for some areas. For new construction, it can be a great investment, difficult for an existing code home.

If you are in a hurricane area and are subject to storm surges, you have no business being in a structure since you always have advance notice. I talked to a man after Katrina he and his mother survived in the bathtub on the 3rd floor of a condo after the first 3 buildings slowed the surge. They got out before the return surge destroyed the building.


pyper 02-10-2011 01:19 PM


Originally Posted by concretemasonry (Post 587338)

1. The gable ends need to be build and braced better than code.

Hip roofs outperform gables.

Another big issue with roofs (other than lifting off) is stuff falling on them (like trees). I saw a program on TV where they were testing various construction methods by dropping phone poles on houses. Pretty neat.

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