They may be as Bermudian as pink sand and white roofs but with all the advancements in hurricane proof technology, are traditional shutters still necessary?
Yes, says Colin Campbell, senior architect and director of OBMI Bermuda, and not just because of hurricanes. They add “a vibrancy to the architecture” and, in the case of push-out shutters, they also provide shade, protecting the interiors from heat and sunlight.
Shutters can be made from wood, PVC or metal, but which material is the best quality and value for money? “Probably the most cost-effective of the three would be PVC,” he says, but adds that they “can rattle around a bit.” Metal shutters are also an economical alternative, but he warns they can be noisy in a storm and don’t last as long in the heat which can cause the paint to chip away over time and they are not as easy to patch up as wooden shutters.
If budget allows, therefore, Campbell advises wooden shutters. “A quality wood shutter will last 100 years,” he says. “A quality PVC or metal shutter will give you 15 or 20 years if you really push them.” Wood shutters do, however, require maintenance over time.
Another drawback with metal or PVC shutters is that the blades come in a standard width and height which doesn’t allow as much light in as wooden shutters. For this reason, Campbell prefers the original wood designs of Wil Onions. “One of the most beautiful things with the shutters he designed for homes was that the blades were extra wide with a deeper opening, giving you the same amount of cover and protection but you could see through [them].”
It isn’t just Onions who designed custom shutters, however. Campbell has also designed his own “clam shell shutter,” which is a split shutter with a push-out on the top and a hanging piece down below, which come together like a clam shell when locked. This is particularly effective for long windows from which you want to be able to enjoy a view. “Our traditional push-out shutter, it’s the full length of the window, so you knock the sunlight out, which is great, but you can’t see through the thing, so the shutter will do the job, but it cuts the view, so I thought: ‘What if I cut the shutter in half?’ Use the top half as push-out and bottom half drops down.” This design allows the view while also providing shade.
When it comes to shutter-less hurricane protection, he says that Dade County-rated impact-resistant glass products are resilient but they don’t protect interiors from the heat and sun the way shutters do, and unless you have other protection, such as corrugated plastic shuttering or Kevlar screens, they are also vulnerable to abrasion from sand and other debris.
Shutters, he concludes, are “tried and tested and there’s the aesthetic quality that’s globally recognised and not replicated elsewhere.”