Steel screen claims to protect homes from high winds

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new product claims it can protect almost anything from entering your home. It's a window screen made out of steel and its maker says it can hold its own against high winds.

It may look like your everyday window covering, but its manufacturer says it can stop a whole lot more than mosquitoes from entering your home.

"You can use it as a hurricane screen, you can use it as a security screen. That's the mainframe jam right here," said Wilford Roberts, owner of TAPCO, the Mississippi company that makes the stainless steel screens on steroids. They're not bulletproof, but Roberts says they can stop most anything else.

"We've been manufacturing aluminum products for about 45 years now," he said.

And the focus has been on security.

"For a number of years, we've been selling just security screens. For public housing, for dormitories, for colleges and schools," he said. "It's tested for a Category 4 hurricane."

A big claim, requiring a big test.

They conduct a test, using a two by four, simulating what could happen during a hurricane.  It was shot out of a pressure cannon at more than 50 feet per second into the screen.

A startled home owner, but an in-tact home, and window pane.

"If you can keep it from breaking your glass, you can keep it from causing a lot of destruction, like water getting into your home," Roberts said.

But despite their strength, TAPCO's super screens don't come cheap. So we wanted to see if we could get the same debris blocking stopping power from a regular piece of plywood.

The same cannon test is tried with without the screen, with completely different results.

The two by four cuts a hole right through the plywood. Anything this is protecting would be shattered.

"It was gone. It was a mess really," said Bryan Devereux. He knows just how powerful hurricanes are. He owns Pier 14 Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, and he lived through Hurricane Hugo.

"We came down the next morning to look at the place, and the pier that we're standing on now was gone, and the restaurant was just sticking up there like a pea on a drum," he said.

But somehow that pea on a drum wasn't damaged, and now Devereux takes no chances when big storms approach.

"We have plywood on hand that is numbered so we can knock it up in two or three hours," he said. "We've launched 2x4s at this thing at more than 100 miles per hour."

But after seeing the screen, Devereux says he'd be interested in using them for his business, rather than relying on plywood.

"It costs about $1,200 to replace one window," he said.

In a part of the country where Mother Nature can pack quite a punch, extra protection is expensive. But if it's your family's treasures inside, it might be worth it.

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