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Protect Your Investment with Rolling Shutters

Every European city dweller knows about a home feature that would solve a host of problems for North American cottagers. Motor-controlled rolling window shutters, typically made of foam-filled aluminum, steel or plastic slats that lock together, have long been standard fixtures in Italian homes and businesses. They are also common in Switzerland, Germany, France and other European countries, but they’re still not well known in North America.

Rolling shutters are a great way to protect your biggest investment – your home or cottage – from animals or people trying to break in, according to trend and design expert Frank Turco of Turcof Designs in Toronto. “They’re great for windows and also for patio doors,” says Turco. “They lock in place; each blind essentially snaps into every other, so you’re getting two layers of metal with space in between. It’s pretty secure.”

Eva Konrad is vice president of Rollac Shutters of Texas, Inc., the only North American company that manufactures aluminum rolling shutters from scratch. “It would really take some time for a thief to get through,” she says. “We have tried it here. To break through a shutter is very hard; a baseball bat just makes some dents in the slats.”

Rolletta Canada is a Canadian manufacturer that imports materials from Italy. Company owner Kyle Leite has also carried out his own tests to see how well his blinds would stand up against intruders. “I have some friends in law enforcement. They came out with the special tools they use, and they were surprised at how resilient the blinds were. As long as they’re mounted to something solid like brick or wood, it would take hours to get through them,” he says.

Since these motor-controlled units require the installation of a track and a wall-mounted control switch, they’re not cheap. “If it’s a picture window, you’re probably looking at the $1,000 to $1,500 mark,” according to Turco. However, along with security benefits, rolling shutters offer several other advantages – energy efficiency among them.

“Here [in North America] they’re installing the shutters in their homes not only for security, but also for the insulating factor,” says Leite. Since all his Rolletta shutters are constructed of aluminum, and each slat is injected with foam insulation, Leite says it does add an insulating factor. This is an important consideration in reducing winter heating costs and saving on home cooling bills in summertime. “With green buildings, [energy efficiency is] becoming more of an issue in the United States – finally,” says Leite. “In Europe, they have been thinking about this for a long time, but here we’re only starting to think about it.”

Because rolling shutters can be adjusted to keep out direct sunlight, “you are not letting in that hot, burning sun, which can heat up the home and create shading on the wall, as well as damaging furniture,” Turco points out, referring to the fading effect that can leave shadow outlines behind pictures or shelving units. “They are great weather protection and also save on energy consumption, keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.”

Apart from heat and cold, rolling shutters provide significant protection against strong winds and falling branches. “I’m very familiar with them from the standpoint of Florida, and it’s basically a requirement that you have rolling shutters on the outside of each window,” says Turco, who owns a home in the state where residents are all too familiar with the threat of hurricane damage.

“There are some tested to the Miami Building Code up to 110 miles per hour,” says Konrad. “So they are – we would not say hurricane-proof – but they are hurricane-resistant.”

High quality rolling shutters have a very long life. Occasionally one slat may break or become stuck in the retracted position, but single slats can be replaced. In cases where the damaged slat is in an easy-to-access position, this can even be the type of repair that a handy homeowner could undertake without calling in a technician.

The somewhat industrial look of these shutters may not appeal to everyone, but Turco says they come in a range of colours, which improves the visual appeal: “You can match the colour of your brick, or you can choose a contrasting colour.”

For most North Americans, security is the top reason for installing rolling shutters. “That’s why many cottage owners call us,” says Leite. “When they come back in three months, there won’t be any break-ins.”