Looking at the steel Bahama shutters on Old Key Lime House, Mike Bornstein can picture their evolution: first, wood, with down-tilted slats to let in air and light; then steel, later treated for added strength, then aluminum, later extruded for the same reason; then plastics, and Plexiglas, and Fiberglas clamshells, and carbon composites, and glass annealed or coated with various films, to keep it from shattering. He can see corrugated panels, and more expensive roll-down shutters and form-fitting accordions.

Before he became Lantana’s town manager in 2000, Bornstein worked for friends who had started manufacturing a patented clear polycarbonate extruded panel. “I learned about product approval and testing,” he says, “and about the engineering, where the anchoring has to be mounted in certain places around the structure. A lot of people think, well, I’m going to go screw this plywood in, and they attach it to the window frame, and (in the storm) the whole thing comes out.”

He learned the importance, he says, of proper bolting and materials, and of price. “There’s always the plywood option, but the steel panels have come down considerably,” he says. “You want to make sure your installation is up to code, hurricane-rated.

“After Andrew, everybody was scrambling to reassess. A lot of the need was for better inspection. You want to find that balance of what’s truly needed for safety and what’s reasonable. If you like the look, that’s even better.”

— Tim Norris

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