Hurricane-resistant products are popping up faster than tropical waves spin off the coast of Africa in August. “We are having a hard time keeping up,” says Shawn Martin, director of applied technology at the NAHB's Research Center. “They are everywhere. We are kind of methodically going through them to make sure they do what they claim and don't create more problems than they solve,” he says.

The following are some products the Research Center experts think have merit:

  • Foundation flood vents, such as Smart Vents, are designed to help keep the hydrostatic pressure of water from undermining foundations. The vents actually allow water into the foundation to equalize the pressure. “I know that sounds like a bad thing, but given the choice between a flooded foundation and a compromised one … ,” Martin says.
  • Systems designed to keep water from entering a house if the shingles are lost or damaged. Self-sticking rubbery tapes also designed to stretch across sheathing seams to help prevent water intrusions. Some can stretch over the whole roof. Some of the products are self-sealing in case a nail gets shot through.
  • Baffled vents for roof ridges and other areas that help keep wind-driven water from actually shooting uphill into the openings.
  • Roof sheathing with grid lines to give roofers a reference point so they will be more likely to shoot a nail into a truss, helping to ensure the sheathing is well-nailed.
  • Synthetic roof underlayments that would replace the felt. It's rip-resistant, lies flat, and better protects the sheathing during the lag time between when the underlayment is put on and the shingles are added. It gives the sheathing better protection if the shingles are compromised.
  • Water-impervious composite materials that can be used for roof sheathing or in the place of drywall inside.
  • “I think we are beginning to see that maybe if we can combine some of these materials and practices [then] we can get a house that is a lot more robust,” says Martin.