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The Right Hurricane Shutter Solution for Your Coastal Cottage

The Right Hurricane Shutter Solution for Your Coastal Cottage

Photo: Pinterest

Whether you’re planning to build a custom cottage or you’ve recently purchased an existing home and intend to perform some renovations, if your new residence is in a coastal region you’ll need to decide if you want to outfit your home with hurricane shutters. From protecting your property from damaging winds and airborne objects to preventing intruders from accessing your home when it’s not in use, there are myriad benefits of hurricane shutters to take into consideration when designing your coastal cottage. However, because a variety of hurricane shutter options are available, it’s important to choose the right hurricane shutters to suit your specific set of needs when you are building or renovating the beach house of your dreams.

Photo: Shutter Outlet

There are four main types of hurricane shutters that are frequently used on coastal properties: roll-down shutters, bahama shutters, storm panel shutters and colonial shutters. Primarily used on commercial properties, storm panel shutters are designed for sliding glass doors or wide windows that span the entire length of a building’s wall. These hurricane shutters are typically designed to fasten into an upper track and a lower track, sliding open from right to left. Often made of galvanized steel, storm panel shutters offer some of the best protection against hurricanes and are usually placed on a property only when a storm is expected to hit. Although they provide exceptional security during a storm, storm panel shutters are not a permanent fixture on the home and require a bit of work to install each time a hurricane is in the forecast.

Photo: Pinterest

Unlike storm panel shutters, colonial shutters are an understated hurricane protection option that doesn’t detract from the visual appearance of your property—and once they are initially installed, they can be left on your coastal cottage all year long. Whereas storm panel shutters are typically kept in storage until the need to install them arises, colonial shutters are a permanent solution that only needs to be installed one time. They can also be purchased in a wide array of colors that enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property. Should a hurricane be headed your way, simply close the shutters over the windows until the threat of high winds has passed. Because they don’t need to be installed before a storm and taken down afterward, colonial shutters are the best choice for homeowners who want a hassle-free hurricane shutter solution for their property that also adds to the home’s curb appeal.

Photo: Hurricane Management Group

Similar in style and appearance to colonial shutters, bahama shutters are another popular hurricane shutter choice for homeowners who want to enhance the style of their house. While colonial shutters are placed on the right and left sides of a window, bahama shutters are situated at the top of the window. When closed, bahama shutters cover the window entirely from top to bottom; when “open,” they sit at a 45-degree angle, extending outward from the window and still partially covering the top half. Bahama shutters can add both a pop of color and some traditional island character to your property; however, the downside to this type of hurricane shutter is that they limit the amount of light that makes its way into your windows on a daily basis and can make it difficult to see outside unless you’re looking straight down.

Photo: Architectural Design Shutters

If you’re searching for a hassle-free hurricane shutter solution that doesn’t impact the design of your home or your ability to see your surroundings, the best choice for your property is probably a roll-down hurricane shutter. This popular storm-protection option is installed at the top of each window or door in a discreet bar that blends in with a home’s exterior. When a hurricane is on the horizon, simply use a manual crank on the inside of the home—or an electronic motor on upgraded options—to roll the shutter down from the top of the door or window until it fully covers the glass. Roll-down hurricane shutters offer excellent protection from wind, rain and flying objects, as well as top-notch security for your home when you are away and it’s not in use.

Photo: Pinterest

At the end of the day, determining which type of hurricane shutters are the right choice for your beach house all depends on how much protection your home requires during high winds and how much work you want to put into securing the shutters before a storm hits. But with so many options available, you’re sure to find hurricane shutters that will fit your home’s needs as well as your personal style and building budget.



Laying Concrete in V-Zones

During a hurricane, Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with.  The intense precipitation, flooding, and high winds strip materials from buildings, including siding, roof shingles, doors, and windows.  These airborne debris are a major contributor to home damage and human injury.  Therefore, when building on the coast, it’s imperative that your home is compliant with V-zone building codes.  One building material to be very careful with is concrete.  

Large pieces of broken concrete can damage buildings and harm people. Image by Mark Wolfe, courtesy of FEMA

Forceful waters and high velocity winds can cause concrete slabs to hydroplane, flip, or break into large chunks that could damage buildings and injure, even kill, people.  As a result, building codes require such slabs be of frangible concrete.  This means they are designed to break into smaller pieces which will sink rather than travel.  So when constructing driveways, pool decks, and patios, it’s important your contractor follows these guidelines:

  • No reinforcement should be used
  • Slabs should not be thicker than four inches
  • Slabs must remain structurally independent of the building
  • Control joints must be spaced at 4-foot squares to encourage even breaking

When laying cement in V-zone areas, proper control joint spacing and depth are essential.  According to the Portland Cement Association, placing control joints in the concrete surface at strategic locations creates weakened planes allowing the concrete to crack evenly.  Spacing the control joints at 4-foot squares ensures the concrete will break into smaller pieces which will cause less damage during hurricanes.

Control joints may be tooled into the concrete surface at the time of placement or they may be sawed into the hardened concrete.  Regardless, control joints should be cut to a depth of ¼ the slab thickness.

Control joint. Image courtesy of Portland Cement Association.

Not only is this control joint approach safer, it also produces a more aesthetically pleasing appearance since the crack forms below the finished concrete surface. This method can reduce the amount of hairline cracks on the surface of the cement.

So, when building your vacation home or remodeling to add a backyard oasis, make sure you only work with licensed contractors who are familiar with V-zone construction and the importance of cement control joints.  If you’d like to learn more about concrete, check out our post about reducing surface cracking.

Blog by Jessica T. Smith for the Coastal Cottage Company

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