Security shutters, grilles and door gates

The domestic use of roller security shutters

For most people, enhanced security doors and windows with security glazing together with a monitored intruder alarm and adequate external lighting will be sufficient to prevent most burglary. (See Door security and Window security)  If your home has that level of security already and you have still suffered a burglary or you have extremely valuable possessions then you might want to consider the use of shutters on your doors and windows.  There are both advantages and disadvantages with using shutters and the table below highlights some of these to help you make up your mind and also to consider what other security improvements you can make before embarking on what can be a very expensive exercise.

Roller shutters can be lifted and pulled down by hand, cranked by hand or electrically driven.  Your provider will no doubt offer you these choices.  Most are constructed of linked aluminium laths which run up and down tracks on either side of the window or door reveal into a container box.  Most are fairly corrosion resistant and come in a wide variety of colours and finishes. 

Advantages and disadvantages of external and internal shutters

External shutters Internal shutters
Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages
External shutters create a primary barrier in front of your doors and windows and will delay entry into your home by an intruder.  They can therefore prevent the quick entry, grab and exit type of crime to steal something specific such as a valuable painting

 

They give a rather big clue to the potential intruder that you are not at home and so a monitored intruder alarm will be essential, particularly if your home is remote

 

Internal shutters create an additional barrier behind your windows and perhaps behind some of your doors and will delay entry into your home by an intruder.  They can therefore prevent the quick entry, grab and exit type of crime to steal something specific like a valuable painting.

 

They indicate to the thief that you may not be at home and so a monitored intruder alarm will be essential, particularly if your home is remote

 

 

They prevent potential thieves from seeing what is in your home (as can blinds, curtains and nets)

 

Externally fitted shutters require more maintenance than internal shutters

 

 

They prevent potential thieves from seeing what is in your home (as can blinds, curtains and nets)

 

Internally fitted shutters require less maintenance as they are out of the weather

 

External shutters can protect your windows from vandalism

 

Given sufficient time and the right tools externally fitted shutters can be forced open

 

If shutters are installed internally the thief will find it very difficult to reach the fixings, especially through broken glass

 

Internal shutters will not protect your windows from vandalism
External shutters can shade your home and keep it cool on hot days.  This is ostensibly what they are used for in central and southern Europe

 

You will almost certainly need planning permission and there is no guarantee that you’ll get it, judging by some planning authority policies External shutters can shade your home, but won’t necessarily keep it cooler, because the light has already passed through the window glazing.

 

If you live in a conservation area or the building is listed you may need planning permission, so you must check first.

 

Can help to prevent an arson attack Fire safety and your means of escape in an emergency are paramount and it is recommended that you do not use external shutters when you are home.  They might also delay the fire brigade from putting out a fire in your home Unless you live in a conservation area or the building is listed you probably do not need planning permission, but you must check first.

 

Your fire safety and your means of escape are still a matter of great importance and it is recommended that you do not use internal shutters when you are home.  They can delay the fire brigade from putting out a fire in your home
Security shutter standards

I recommend the use of shutters that are certificated to the standard shown below.  Security Rating 1 should be sufficient for the home that has secure doors and windows and an intruder alarm, but you check with your insurers first.

LPS 1175 Issue 5/6 Requirements and testing procedures for the LPCB approval and listing of intruder resistant building components, strongpoints, security enclosures and free-standing barriers

The above security standard has been published by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), which is part of BRE Global.  Products that are certificated to this standard have undergone rigorous, independent testing by the LPCB and are subject to continuous ongoing assessment to ensure that the quality of the product is maintained.  Part of the ongoing assessment includes a regular inspection of the company’s manufacturing facilities and the company must hold a BS EN ISO 9001:2008 Quality management system.  

Which windows and doors should be shuttered?

If you are going to do this then at the very least you will need to protect all the easily accessible windows plus side and rear doors.  You’d normally leave the main entrance door and inaccessible upper floor windows.  If your home is remote and there is no chance of the thief being disturbed then you may have to include some or all of the upper windows and the front door.

Roller shutters for garages

Roller shutter garage doors, especially automatic ones which you can operate from inside your car, are becoming very popular.  Apart from security there are clearly other advantages to be gained by being able to operate the doors without having to get out of the car, especially in the dark and during wet weather.  I recommend shutters that have been certificated to the standard below and Security Rating 1 should be sufficient for most risks, but you should check with your insurers first.

LPS 1175 Issue 5/6 Requirements and testing procedures for the LPCB approval and listing of intruder resistant building components, strongpoints, security enclosures and free-standing barriers

Security Grilles

There is a wide range of security grilles to further protect your windows and doors providing you with many options to suit your particular circumstances.  See the separate headings.

Externally fixed grilles

This type of grille is more often seen installed to commercial buildings rather than people’s homes, but in areas of high crime they can often be seen installed over basement windows and windows that immediately open onto quiet back streets and alleyways.  These grilles normally comprise an outer steel frame with vertical welded bars or the bars may be formed into some decorative style.  The frame is fitted into the sides of the window reveal or onto the face brickwork, the fixings of which are secured into the brick or block rather than into the mortar joints.

Permanently fixed external grilles should never be fitted to windows that might be needed for exit in an emergency and so if the window to be grilled is the only one in that room do not fit it with this type of grille.  Fixed grilles also make it difficult to maintain or clean the window and may prevent an outward opening casement window opening to its fullest extent.  Hinged and lift out external grilles, which are secured with padlocks, can be used instead, but these are not safe to use if the window is required for exit in an emergency.

Internally fixed grilles

Internally fixed grilles are considerably more common and are available in a wide range of designs, security levels and operations.  They can be fitted into the brickwork in the reveal or sometimes onto the window frame.  The grilles, which are normally supplied in a diamond or square pattern, are formed from flat steel bars or expanded steel and have cut outs in them so you can still open and close the windows.  It is probably not sensible to install permanently fixed grilles as you won’t be able to clean the windows properly.  Fit hinged ones instead that can be locked with either padlocks or integral locks or fit a lift out type which will use padlocks or press bolts to lock it into the brackets.

For emergency escape the hinged or lift out grilles can be fitted with a keyless release mechanism and you are strongly advised to use this on at least one window in each room.

Some additional uses for fixed grilles

If you need a window open at night but you are worried about someone climbing into your bedroom while you are asleep you can fit a fanlight casement window with a permanently fixed grille to prevent this from happening.  Fixed grilles can also be fitted on the inside of the glass panel of a communal entrance door to deter the glass breaking thief from smashing the glass and accessing the turn knob on the inside of the door.

Folding security grilles (collapsible gates)

Folding security grilles are commonly seen in Toronto and in the centres of many of the cities in the Canada.  They are installed internally into a window or door reveal and can be unlocked and pushed back out of the way when not in use.  When closed they typically only occupy about 15% of the window opening and can often be hidden behind the curtains.  When required they are simply pulled across and locked into a fixed style on one side of the opening or into each other if they have been fitted in pairs.  They are generally key locked, but many only require a key to unlock them.

Once again your fire safety must be seriously considered and you may decide to use them only when the house is unoccupied.  Keep the keys close to these grilles in case you need to open them in an emergency.

Security standards for grilles

Security grilles and gates can be certificated to the standard below.  Security rating 1 is normally sufficient for most domestic risks, but you should check with your insurer first.

LPS 1175 Issue 5/6 Requirements and testing procedures for the LPCB approval and listing of intruder resistant building components, strongpoints, security enclosures and free-standing barriers

Entrance door security gates

Some people, living on local authority estates, who have been the victim of a crime or fear crime a great deal, have sometimes resorted to installing steel security gates in front of their flat entrance doors.  Whilst I would not criticise residents who have done this, because it is an understandable reaction to experiencing crime, there is a concern that these security measures may affect your ability to exit the flat in an emergency.  If you intend to keep the gate then you must make sure that the keys are kept close to the door and that your smoke detectors are working.

An alternative way of improving the security would be to replace a low grade entrance door with an enhanced security doorset that is certificated to PAS 24, but make sure you have the permission of the landlord first.  Responsible local authority and housing association landlords generally use PAS 24 doorsets during refurbishments and in new build, because they have realised the benefits that these can bring.

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Security shutters, grilles and door gates
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Security shutters, grilles and door gates
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Roller shutters can be lifted and pulled down by hand, cranked by hand or electrically driven.  Your provider will no doubt offer you these choices. 
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Best Brothers Group
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