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Vol 5 No. 26- March 16, 2005

Before hurricane season, think shutters

By Louise Bolger

Sticker shock — if you haven’t experienced it recently, my recommendation is to call your friendly local storm shutter salesperson. I guarantee you this will provide a faster case of sticker shock than driving down to the local BMW dealer.

The understatement of the year would be to call last year’s hurricane season active. Many of the millions of Floridians affected have been making inquiries and placing orders for storm shutters to protect their property. In fact, if you haven’t already signed a contract for shutters, you may not have them in place for the impending hurricane season (we signed a contract in December with an installation date of April or May).

One of the most confusing questions for most homeowners is what type of shutters to install. There are four basic types: rolling shutters, accordion shutters, colonial shutters and Bahama shutters.

Rolling shutters are the Mercedes Benz of window protection per the sales people. They come in first, not necessarily because of the protection they afford, but because of the ease of operation. The shutters literally roll up into a housing mounted above the window or door. Most people have a motorized system to raise and lower the shutters, but if your window or door opening is not too wide, a hand crank may be sufficient. The ones we ordered have a 155 mile an hour wind load rating.

Accordion shutters are very economical and also very strong, perfect for patio openings and sliding glass doors. They do, however, need to be stored when not in use, either on the patio or lanai itself or in a garage or storage shed, and, if stored, will need some installation prior to a storm.

Colonial shutters look like traditional wood shutters. They are hinged at the sides and when closed are secured using horizontal bars for the utmost protection.

Bahama shutters, like colonial shutters, come in a variety of colors but add a distinct tropical look. They are hinged at the top and supported by adjustable arms when open.
All shutter designs can accommodate a single family home; rolling shutters and accordion can also be used for condominiums. Be sure to ask for your condominium’s shutter guidelines before placing an order. Most associations have restrictions on style, color and installation procedures.

Extruded aluminum is the recommended product construction for all shutters, and, of course, they should all meet Florida Building Code and Miami Dade County Code. Wind ratings for the different shutter designs should be questioned as well as the shutter’s ability to resist flying debris.

In addition to wind and rain protection, shutters can provide addition security and privacy for your home. But the thing that helped me to justify the cost was the environmental protection benefit. Shutters can block out the heat and glare of the sun, protect carpeting and furniture, and save you money on heating and air conditioning costs.

So, if you feel you’re ready for the newest version of sticker shock, you know what to do. Since it seems that every other homeowner in Florida is investing in storm shutters, we’re practically guaranteed an uneventful season — please.


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