In the Charleston area, hurricanes are a fact of life between June and December, and non-hurricane storms visit us year-round. The high winds, projectile hazards and torrential rainfalls all make life as a window or glass enclosure fraught with danger.
Storm shutters are a Charleston-area tradition to protect against these hazards and add beauty and charm to Lowcountry homes. The shutters come in a variety of types and styles that have various assets and deficits.
Let’s consider six kinds of storm shutters so you can choose the one that best fits your home and lifestyle.
1. Corrugated Storm Panels
These metal panels attach to the walls around windows and doors on pre-drilled bolts and tracks. They overlap for maximum strength and protection. Storm panels are inexpensive, removable and fairly easy to install, though they are sometimes heavy and can have sharp edges. They’re not always the most stylish, though they can be painted to match the house color.
2. Roll-Down Shutters
When not in use, roll-down shutters are stored in a box above the windows. When they need to be lowered over the windows, they can be rolled down from the box with a crank or mechanically with the touch of a button. Roll downs are the simplest storm shutters to operate but also the most expensive, at roughly four times the cost of corrugated panels. In addition, they require a battery backup system in case the power fails and the boxes can be unsightly.
3. Accordion Shutters
Accordion shutters spend their time sidled up on either side of the window ever-ready to be called into duty. They generally unfold by sliding on wheels and meeting in the middle of the windows to offer protection during a storm. Accordions are fairly easy to shut and then return to their folded position, and they are fairly inexpensive, but they are often not the most aesthetically pleasing. You want to see them folded and unfolded before purchasing. In addition, if the wheels rust or break, opening or closing them can pose a challenge.
Often considered the prettiest shutters because they’re light and stylish, Bahama shutters are louvered above windows as an airy, year-round accessory. When closed tight against the window, they transform into stoic guards against airborne threats. Bahamas are as easy to open and close as a window and provide year-round benefits. They are moderate in cost but because they’re painted wood or plastic don’t provide the stalwart protection of metal. They also act as shutters even when open, preventing unfiltered light from entering rooms.
5. Colonial Shutters
Commonly seen on downtown Charleston houses, they attach permanently beside windows and can be closed during a storm. Decorative, mid-priced and easily closed, Colonials are the most popular storm shutter. The only downsides are that they don’t work on doors and some Colonials must be locked closed with an iron rod, which complicates their use.
6. Plywood shutters
Another way to protect your windows and doors is using sheets of plywood. But plywood doesn’t meet building codes and must be purchased and cut in advance, and stored somewhere when not in use. Holes must be drilled in the building frame to install bolts that will hold the plywood in place.
Installation of the plywood prior to a storm can take hours and usually more than one person. Large 5/8ths-inch plywood sheets are heavy and bulky; installing them on upper floors can be a challenge and dangerous once the winds pick up.
At Special Additions, the Lowcountry’s room enclosure experts, the team of designers and installers can help you choose the storm shutters that are right for you. Contact us today at (843) 851-2303 or visit SpecialAdditionsinc.com.