It’s hurricane season in the Lowcountry, and whatever the literal winds of fate blow our way this year, there will be a hurricane season next summer and fall, and the summer and fall after that, and so on. A hurricane is coming; it’s just a matter of when and how powerfully the next blow is delivered.
If you own a house it had better be hurricane resistant. Part of protecting your home against buffeting winds and high-flying detritus is installing window covers that are tested to withstand impact and pressure.
There are myriad forms of window coverings, says Bryan Dubis of Coastal Shutter Company on Clements Ferry Road, and the best one depends much more on you than on the product itself.
Because all window protection systems that Coastal Shutter sells meet the standards of the international building code, they can all do the job. The real variable is how much form you want with that function, how much tolerance you have for climbing ladders and installing screws and bolts, and how much you’re willing to spend.
“There’s no one size fits all,” says Dubis.
Here, according to Coastal Shutter Company, are the biggest considerations for the various shutter and window covering types:
Colonial Shutters The most common shutters, they stand sentinel beside your windows in pairs. Decorative when the weather is unthreatening, they can be closed over the windows and bolted shut against whipping winds and airborne projectiles when the Tropics are cooking up trouble.
Landon Smith, a team member at Coastal Shutter, says Colonials are popular because they’re on the house already and don’t require much installation. One person can generally bolt them closed from the inside of the house in a few hours depending on how many windows there are.
There are some downsides, though. Not all windows have room for shutters on the side, and there are also size limitations to take into consideration. In addition, if you have a high window that can’t easily be accessed, you have to get up on a tall ladder to get them closed. Permanent shutters also tend to be more expensive than non-permanent storm panels.
Bahama Shutters Those above-the-window shutters lend an island feel to houses and offer shade as well as decoration in normal times. Come the turbulence, they’re easy to lock down to protect the window. But, says Dustin Pait, another Coastal team member, Bahama shutters aren’t for everyone. They may be incongruous with certain architecture styles and can stick out from lower windows into usable spaces, like the porch.
Like Colonials, Bahamas are mid-range in price and unable to protect doors, and the issue of having to get up on tall ladders to close them is the same.
Accordion Shutters Absent decorative value, they are folded up next to the windows and doors when not in use. They are also cheaper and easier to batten down than regular shutters by gliding them along tracks above and below. Accordions are also valuable as protection against theft because they can be locked shut.
Roll Down Shutters The most expensive and easiest to operate, these shutters can be closed from far away via crank handle or even a motor. They attach above the window or door and store in a box.
Storm Panels You spend significantly less money up front by buying window protection that is only affixed to your house when danger is brewing. These steel, aluminum or fabric shutters are stored in the garage until you need them, but only after someone like Coastal Shutter Company installs hardware into the home’s outer walls. You almost never have to fuss with these shutters, but when you do, installation is more complicated and time-consuming than more expensive options. In addition, though the fasteners can be sunk below the outer surface of the house, aesthetics are not their strong point.
Because shutter selection is so much a function of owner preference and home layout, Dubis and his team like to meet customers and see their houses. He and his 12 employees are focused on the details that lead to customer satisfaction. “If you’re not happy with what we’ve done, we’re not happy either,” he says.
Barry Waldman is principal of Big Fly Communications, a PR/marketing firm for nonprofits and small businesses. Gobigfly.com.