Special Report: Unbreakable

By Greg Argos - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - They look like your everyday window covering, but the company that makes the "screens of steel" says they can stop a whole lot more than mosquitoes from entering your home.

"[The screens] are O-35 stainless steel, woven wire. It has 12 strands each way, both ways," explained owner Wilford Roberts, who owns the TAPCO company that makes the coverings. "You can use it as a hurricane screen; you can use it as a security screen."

Mississippi-based TAPCO Inc. has been making the stainless steel screen on steroids for years, and the focus has been primarily been on security.

"For a number of years we've been selling just security screens for public housing, for dormitories, for colleges and for schools," stated Roberts.

However, Roberts says the screens can also be used to stop almost anything Mother Nature throws at your home.

"It's tested for a category four hurricane," he said.

A big claim, which requires a big test. We put the screen over a window on a Murrells Inlet home, then we unwrapped a PVC pipe pressure cannon, which can simulate hurricane destruction by launching two-by-fours at more than 50 feet per second.

We launched the 2x4 at the screen, and it bounced right off.

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

We wanted to see if we could get the same debris blocking stopping power from a regular piece of plywood. We launched a 2x4 with the same cannon, but got completely different results. It went entirely through the plywood. Anything the plywood was protecting would have been shattered.

Bryan Devereux, who owns Pier 14 Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, knows just how powerful hurricanes are. 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," he recalled. "The restaurant was just sticking up there like a pea on a drum."

However, that "pea on a drum" wasn't damaged, and now Devereux takes no chances when it comes to Mother Nature

"We have plywood on hand that is numbered so we can knock it up in two or three hours," he explained.

After seeing the screen, Devereux says he'd be interested in using them for his business, rather than relying on plywood. After all, Hurricane Hugo only hit the Grand Strand as a category one, and Devereux says it's better to be safe than sorry.

The screen works to protect the home against burglars, too. Neither a baseball bat nor a crow bar was able to cause enough damage to gain access to a home, even after striking the screen 20 to 25 times.

"It looks like it would definitely be an extra line of defense," stated Michele Weissman, the owner of Security Vision, a local security company. "It would definitely be a deterrent. When they're trying to hit [the screen] and bust it, they're going to find out it's not easy and move onto the next home."

However, Weissman says the screens are just an added security layer for your home. If you're going to use them, they shouldn't be your only line of defense.

"This would be your second line of defense as far as your windows," she continued. "So it's definitely added protection from a hurricane and for your home security systems."

If you're interested in purchasing the TAPCO screens, contact:

Myrtle Beach Area
Burroughs Shutter Company

Wilmington, NC Area
Seacoast Systems, Inc.

Charleston, SC Area
ABC Awning

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