Are concrete practitioners promoting safe-room installations in new homes bound to encounter some lightweight competition? Applying the same Kevlar technology
Are concrete practitioners promoting safe-room installations in new homes bound to encounter some lightweight competition? Applying the same Kevlar technology the military uses to protect soldiers in a tank, DuPont introduced its StormRoom about three years ago in the tornado alley states of Texas and Oklahoma. The company has recently broken into the Memphis market with two installations in new custom-built homes by local builder Doyle Ricks. In contrast to traditional concrete or steel storm shelters, the walls of DuPont StormRooms include a layer of Kevlar sheathing capable of withstanding winds up to 250 mph. Associated with the most violent tornadoes, such winds can launch debris at 100 mph. Accordingly, the 5-in.-thick walls and roof comprise four layers: exterior plywood, Kevlar sheathing, a high-density foam, and interior plywood.
The Kevlar sheathing acts as a catcher’s mit, says DuPont Market Manager Gary Burnett. The foam provides insulation and an extra force absorber. Anchoring the StormRooms, available in four fixed sizes, is a concrete slab.
Because we use common building materials, you can finish them off, Burnett says. The rooms can be disguised as a storage space, a closet or even a wine room. The two Memphis installations will be closets located in the master bedroom.
While all the homes Ricks built in the past six to seven years included some kind of storm shelter, most were concrete or steel; but, he is adopting the Kevlar technology because the rooms are above ground, easy to install, and thoroughly tested, DuPont officials contend. At the Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University, rooms were subjected to the impact of a two-by-four shot out of a cannon at 100 mph. With every change or improvement DuPont makes, Burnett reports, We take it to Texas and shoot it. The StormRooms comply with all of FEMA’s National Performance Criteria for Tornado Shelters.
Aboveground and located inside the house, StormRooms are easy to reach during a storm. Since they are capable of withstanding around 90,000 lb., inhabitants are still protected in the event that a house collapses, product engineers affirm. A security keypad on the 2-in.-thick steel door provides further functionality as a safe room.
The StormRooms can be installed in any home, given sufficient space and a concrete slab to anchor the room. Cost of installation ranges from $6,000 to $12,000. A DuPont-certified installer can complete the room in about five hours, says Burnett. Although the rooms can be installed after construction, Ricks notes that the initial framing stage is most conducive, as that lets you get the wiring, heating and air.