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Hurricane Shutters

Find information about different types of hurricane shutters.

Hurricane shutters help protect windows from strong winds and flying debris. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Hurricane shutters help protect windows from strong winds and flying debris.

Types of Hurricane Shutters

Homeowners can choose from several different types of hurricane shutters that offer varying degrees of protection and style:

  • Roll shutters are aluminum slats installed along the tops of windows. Roll shutters are operated by an inside or outside hand crank, or can be motorized, and are rolled up out of view when not in use.
  • Accordion hurricane shutters are interlocking aluminum blades that run on a track-and-wheel assembly installed above and below windows. They are pulled horizontally as one unit or can be installed on both the left and right sides of windows and join in the middle when closed.
  • Bahama shutters are fixed aluminum louvers installed on a hinge above windows. Bahama shutters can be left open by using adjustable arms attached to either side of the louvers with brackets. The arms are removed when the shutters need to be closed. These shutters also come in wood, vinyl or fiberglass.
  • Storm panels are lightweight aluminum panels that are installed and removed easily in fixed tracks above and below windows. They can be stored away when not in use.
  • Clear hurricane shutters are similar to storm panels, but are made of transparent lightweight polycarbonate resin.
  • Colonial hurricane shutters are louvers that attach to either side of the window just like regular shutters. They remain in place year-round and are closed to meet in the middle of the window when needed.
    Selecting Hurricane Shutters

When it comes to hurricane shutters, there are no set rules or guidelines that apply to every house. Buying hurricane shutters ultimately comes down to personal preference, price, ease of installation and use, and level of protection. Storm panels, Bahama shutters or colonial shutters are strongest and are considered to provide the best protection. For consumers on a budget, storm panels are the least expensive per square foot. Accordion hurricane shutters are easy to operate.

Consumers should make sure the hurricane shutters they select meet the building codes for their particular area. Different styles of hurricane shutters can be used on the same house to accommodate sizes and locations of particular windows, and also take into account accessibility to these windows as well as overall costs and personal needs.

Decorative vs. Functional Hurricane Shutters

Some people may place protection before appearance, and others may look for hurricane shutters that do not detract from the look of their homes. All hurricane shutters protect against breaking glass and flying debris. Roll shutters, colonial hurricane shutters and Bahama shutters generally have the least impact on a home's appearance. Accordion hurricane shutters have a dramatic effect on architectural integrity. Storm panels are effective barriers of protection and, since they can be removed and stored away, place no architectural compromises on a home unless permanent sills and headers are used. A special screw anchor with bolts can be used to attach storm panels to windows when needed. Between uses, the bolts can be removed and the screw anchors alone reduce any effect on a home's façade.

Installing Hurricane Shutters

Hurricane shutters are installed on the outside of the window and should be secured to the structural framing of the house and not to the window frame itself. Hurricane shutters are attached with bolts or tracks, depending on the type of hurricane shutter. For instance, colonial shutters are bolted on either side of a window, while accordion hurricane shutters are attached by a track above and below the window. Roll shutters are bolted only above the window.

Though do-it-yourselfers may choose to install hurricane shutters themselves, it is recommended to have shutters professionally installed to ensure proper fastening. Screws, bolts, anchors or any other exposed metal used to attach hurricane shutters should be weather resistant.

Caring for Hurricane Shutters

The manufacturers and vendors of most types of hurricane shutters, such as Bahama shutters and storm panels, are advertised as being virtually maintenance-free. However, accordion shutters should have periodic light maintenance, including lubricating tracks and rollers and spraying joints and locking mechanisms with silicone or aluminum spray. On an annual basis, hurricane shutters should be operated to make sure they are working properly. Tracks, slats, and locks should be cleaned with a liquid wax and any debris cleaned from tracks and rollers.

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