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SHUTTER TYPES

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ACCORDION-STYLE SHUTTERS

These custom-made shutters are permanently installed and can be closed in minutes. Especially good for sliding-glass doors or townhouses and homes that ges for shutter storage.

Shutters that fold up accordion style are good for those who don't want to put up storm shutters each time a storm threatens. Permanently installed, accordion shutters can be closed in minutes.

Because they are custom made for each window and door, they are more expensive than removable panels. And although they fold up fairly compactly, they are visible year-round.

Prices, installed, are about $15 per square foot.

REMOVABLE PANELS

Available in aluminum, steel and clear polycarbonate. The corrugated panels are lightweight, but they take time to install and require storage space.

After plywood, removable panels are the least expensive form of hurricane protection for windows. The corrugated panels are lightweight and fit into one another, making them much easier to install and store than plywood. They also last longer. If plywood gets wet, it warps and rots - the panels do not.

The drawbacks include lengthy installation time, storage and organization. The first installation can take a day or two. For each opening, you must drill holes for the top headers and bottom sills that the panels fit into, as well as for the bolts along the sides.

After that, you can leave the sills and headers up (many people paint them to blend into the walls), or you can remove them. But even if you leave the sills and headers up, the panels must be numbered and matched to the windows - otherwise, the holes won't line up.

If you live in a subdivision or gated community, check with your homeowners association. Some associations require that hurricane panels be removed within a certain number of days after the storm or threat of storm has passed.

The panels are available in different materials - aluminum, steel and even a clear product marketed under the names Clear Shield or Lexan, among others.

The clear panels are sold through independent dealers as well as home improvement centers. Besides allowing light to pass through, their polycarbonate construction allows them to bend and then pop back into place. That could justify their price, which is roughly double the aluminum panels.

If you use steel panels, however, note that some of them must be doubled to protect against 110-mph winds. And there are different gauges of aluminum. Lainhart & Potter in West Palm Beach recommends only the tougher, .062-gauge aluminum panels, which are good for openings up to 11 feet, 3 inches - about 2 feet higher than the .040 gauge panels.

AUTOMATIC, ROLLING SHUTTERS

Press a button and - presto, your shutters roll down. But they're expensive and the huge casings can be unattractive.

Wouldn't it be nice just to press a button and have the shutters come down? Or, if you're out of town, call up your computer and have it do the task? That is possible - if you have a big budget and have planned ahead for installation and wiring.

Rolling shutters are the easiest, quickest way to secure your home.

But their price keeps them out of reach for most homeowners. An electronicrolling shutter for a 6-foot sliding door, for instance, can cost nearly $2,000 (meeting the impact testing of the new code).

After price, the biggest drawback has been the huge casings that house the shutter.

But if you are building a new home, the casing can be set inside the wall with a panel for access, experts say.

COLONIAL, BAHAMA AWNINGS

Bahamas are easy to open and close. They're usually made of aluminum. They need to be checked regularly to make sure the fasteners aren't rusted.

Like the accordions, these two types of shutters are permanently attached, but generally are less expensive than accordions. A 3-by-4-foot Bahama shutter costs around $200, but price varies according to material. The top-hinged Bahamas cover the window but let in light because they are slatted. It's easy to loosen the nuts and swing the awnings down flat against the wall when a storm approaches.

Colonials are mounted on the outer sides of the windows and swing closed, fastening in the middle.

Both need to be checked regularly to make sure fasteners are not rusted and move freely. Bahama awnings usually are made of aluminum; Colonials usually are wood and need to be painted regularly to avoid decay.

While the Bahama shutters are fine for Florida ranch-style houses, they are not architecturally compatible for new homes with arched windows. Nor are they appropriate for sliding or patio doors. Colonials need room on either side of the window or single-width door.

Go to the Emergency Preparedness Information page, on to Check Local Codes, or back to Shutters -- What It Costs.