Coffee Break RECAP: Shutters

COFFEE BREAK RECAP – This month’s “coffee break” video recap focuses on identifying shutters by style and age, as well as how to strip louvered shutters for repairing and repainting. Watch below.

 

VIDEO SUMMARY:

  • Focus: Shutters, including stripping paint from louvered shutters, differences between original, modern, and regional shutters, and Danielle’s pet peeves with fake shutters 
  • Question: How do you restore louvered shutters – specifically, how do you strip the paint to prepare them for restoration?
  • Solutions: Danielle and Jonathan discussed answers to the question and provided other relevant shutter information:
       

    1. RESTORATION – follow the 80/20 rule of restoration
           – Consider doing (some of) the work yourself. 80% of restoration requires only semi-skilled labor, and the other 20% requires skilled labor. Following this rule saves you a lot of money in the long run. Start by stripping paint yourself. But remember: stripping paint – especially from louvered shutters – is time-consuming and labor-intensive. It can take approximately 16 hours per shutter.
           – Use Bahco scrapers made from carbide – they come in various sizes so you can pick the right ones to fit between louvres. They can also be sharpened with a diamond sharpener, lengthening their life.
           – Find a local craftsperson to repair the shutters.
           – Paint the repaired shutters yourself.
           – If it can’t be restored or saved, find a local craftsperson to custom build new “old” shutters
      – strong, sturdy woods such as white oak, mahogany, or sapele are best
    2. STYLES of shutters
           – Historic, classical shutters include various styles. Board-and-batten shutters, solid raised panel shutters, and louvered shutters are common in historic homes. 
           – Post-WWII shutters are usually mass-produced and less functional, and in many cases, only decorative. Dupes of traditional louvered shutters are identifiable by “tells” including glue or biscuits in place of mortise and tenon joints, easy rot, shutters that are not comparable in size or shape to the window they adjoin, or shutters that are affixed directly to the wall behind them.
    3. PROBLEMS with modern shutters – pet peeves and DON’TS that make you shudder!
           – Visually unappealing – especially when they don’t match size or shape of adjoining window
           – Glue or biscuit-attached louvers are more likely to break apart and rot
           – No copper caps on top of shutters lead to more rot
           – 2nd growth wood – poor quality and leads to rot
           – Affixed directly to the wall behind them – increases propensity to rot or create negative chemical reactions

POORLY DESIGNED MODERN SHUTTERS COST MORE MONEY IN THE LONG RUN
than restoring sound historical shutters!

 

Further resources:

  • History of shutters, here.

COFFEE BREAK RECAP – This month’s “coffee break” video recap focuses on how to navigate the existing building code and uniform construction code within your historic building project in Pennsylvania. Watch below.

 

VIDEO SUMMARY:

  • Focus: Exemptions (Existing Building Code) and things liable to the Uniform Construction Code, depending on the parameters of a historic building project in Pennsylvania
  • Solutions: Danielle and Jonathan discussed tips: 
       

    1. Work with a contractor or design specialist who has preservation knowledge who can work flexibly with a code officer.
    2. Know EXEMPTIONS that fall under Existing Building Code:
      • Historic buildings listed on the state or national historic register
      • Historic building that is part of a historic district 
      • Replacement in kind (under the Secretary of Interiors Standards
      • Staircases (unaltered) 
      • Means of egress (doorways)
      • Energy conservation 
      • Floodplain-located buildings
      • Fire rating  
    3. Know what is LIABLE to the Uniform Construction Code:
      • Changing the usage of a building 
      • Substantial improvement/Alterations – if the percentage of alterations is more than 50% of the building’s value (even if usage remains the same)
      • Relocated structure 
      • Seismic (structural) retrofits
      • Means of egress 
    4. If you disagree with the code officer, know the process of appeals
      • Check with your local municipality  

Old buildings are not automatically exempt from the Uniform Building Code in Pennsylvania
– ARM YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE TO NAVIGATE CODES ON YOUR NEXT PROJECT!

 

Further resources:

COFFEE BREAK RECAPS – Periodically, we will be bringing you recapitulations of our live “coffee break” videos, where Danielle and Jonathan address questions related to preservation and provide answers or brainstorm solutions. These recap posts will include additional information and resources. This month’s recap focuses on rising sea levels’ impacts on historic buildings and possible solutions. Watch below. 

 

VIDEO SUMMARY:

  • Focus: The ever-increasing threat of flooding to historical buildings and properties caused by climate change (among other things) – after all, water is the enemy of historic structures 
  • Question: What can be done to protect historic buildings and districts – in a way that is also sensitive to preserving the historic-fabric – from rising sea levels?
  • Solutions: Danielle and Jonathan discussed 3 possibilities:
    1. Make bottom levels of buildings “floodable” as is being attempted at the national level (see resources below for an example) – however, this still puts floors, doors, windows, trim, etc. at significant risk of damage and destruction.       
    2. Consider elevating the building to a level high enough that it is less likely to need to be raised again, and treating the elevation similarly to a “sympathetic addition” – one that is new but whose style and materials are in keeping with the historic fabric of the rest of the building.
    3. Although relocation of the entire structure is also an option, it may be less desirable than the other options, as it is extremely costly and has other risks.

When it comes to flood mitigation in coastal or water-front communities, historic structures should not be forgotten
DON’T THROW THE PROVERBIAL BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER

 

Further resources: