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Resilient Building Materials for the Coast

Durable building solutions for traditional designs on the water.

For traditional projects in coastal environments, the proper windows, shutters, and doors not only define the design but also provide protection from hurricane-force winds, blistering sunlight, and corrosive ocean salt.

Materials must be durable and shutters must be operable to keep the harsh climate at bay while still looking as though they were made the same way they were when the structure was erected decades or even centuries ago.

Today, there are a variety of functional and aesthetically pleasing products that literally are built to stand the test of time.

Here is a selection of companies that specialize in creative coastal and durable building solutions.

Aeratis Porch Products

Using profiles from 19th-century examples, Aeratis Porch Products manufactures historically accurate, operable, high-density PVC shutters that have stainless steel hardware and tongue-and-groove porch flooring.

Aeratis shutters

Aeratis Porch Products manufactures historically accurate, operable, high-density PVC shutters and tongue-and-groove porch flooring. 

The shutters, which come with a lifetime guarantee, are available in louver, raised-panel, combo louver and panel, and Bahama styles.

Chris Tidwell, who created the company’s line of shutters, says the products are durable and resilient enough to stand up to coastal weather.

“They are much more stable, longer lasting and hold paint for much longer than wood shutters,” he says. “In addition, we can offer them at a faction of the cost—around $350 per pair as opposed to $1,000 for wood counterparts—and our lead time is less than 10 days.”

Aeratis shutters

The company, which was founded in 2005 and is based in Tempe, Arizona, has provided products for a number of prominent places, including the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana; This Old House Ideas Houses; and National Register homes around the country.

The company’s products, which also include historically accurate PVC tongue-and-groove porch flooring, are guaranteed not to buckle, cup or warp no matter how hot or cold it gets, making them ideal for coastal installations.

“We try to utilize wisdom from early architects and home builders who did not have high-performance materials,” Tidwell says. “In early American home building, for example, exterior living spaces had tongue-and-groove flooring, which aided in getting water away from the house and into a collection system. 

The deck boards of more modern times, which have gaps and spaces and allow water to penetrate in large volumes and get under the main structure, cause mold mildew and stimulate fungal decay of wood.”

Kolbe Windows & Doors

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Kolbe Windows & Doors manufactures a variety of customizable windows and doors that lend themselves to traditional and coastal projects.

Kolbe Window and Doors porch

Kolbe Windows & Doors manufacturers a variety of traditional-style customizable products that are designed for the climate of coastal areas. 

The Wisconsin-based company’s Ultra Series, for instance, features extruded aluminum exteriors and wood interiors, with numerous options, including exterior trim details and hurricane-impact resistance for coastal areas.

Its Heritage Series, which features wood interiors and exteriors, is designed to create architecturally intricate and historically accurate details. “With numerous divided lite profiles and patterns, aesthetic and efficient glass, hardware options and finishes, it’s easy to create one-of-a-kind openings to suit every region and climate,” says Nick Pesl, displays and product information manager.

Kolbe windows in master bath

Kolbe windows and doors have been installed in residential and commercial projects from coast to coast. The company provided 530 impact windows and 123 doors for Ocean House, a historic beach hotel in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. WaterColor, Florida, used Kolbe’s Ultra Series windows and doors on its 45,000-square-foot beach club on the Gulf of Mexico, and Turks & Caicos Sporting Club, a 1,100-acre private residential community on the island’s southernmost chain, features Kolbe impact products.

Kolbe Windows and Doors

“Our windows and doors are designed to marry traditional design aesthetics with new advances in technology,” Pesl says. “Over the years, strict building codes have been implemented in coastal areas to prevent excessive damage during tropical storms and hurricanes. A wide selection of Kolbe products can be upgraded to meet specific needs, including impact resistance in Zone 4 and high-velocity hurricane zones.”

Graham Architectural Products

A manufacturer of custom architectural-grade windows, Graham Architectural Products specializes in historic replications as well as new-construction products.

Cigar Factory

Graham Architectural Products manufactured history replica windows for The Cigar Factory, a 19th-century National Register building in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Its operable, thermally broken aluminum windows, which are manufactured in the 50-year-old company’s 240,000-square-foot warehouse/factory in York, Pennsylvania, include designs for coastal installations.

“We have hurricane-resistant products,” says Jim Eisenbeis, director of marketing. “The construction and available finish of our hurricane-resistant windows, patio, and sliding-glass doors are durable enough to withstand the elements typical in these high-wind areas.”

metal window, Cigar Factory, Graham Architectural Products

The company has worked on a number of coastal projects. For The Cigar Factory, an 1881 National Register building in Charleston, South Carolina, that is now home to several businesses, Graham Architectural Products replicated historic windows that meet hurricane-impact requirements. It also manufactured replica windows for the 1928-30 Asbury Park Convention Hall, an exhibition center in the New Jersey city of the same name that is used for ports, concerts, and other special events.

Cigar Factory

Noting that Graham Architectural Products has manufactured windows for projects in numerous coastal regions that each have their own stringent requirements, Eisenbeis says that the company’s “attention to detail to meet the needs of each project and the quality of the product set us apart. Our motto is: Your vision, our experience.”

Stewart Brannen Millworks

Catering to the custom luxury market, Stewart Brannen Millworks offers wood products that are classical in style and modern in performance so they stand the test of wet, windy weather.

Stewart Brannen Millworks porch

Architect Historical Concepts

Although the family-owned and -operated company does do replications of historic windows, doors and millwork, “we frequently end up merging the two worlds: creating products that meet the high-performance demands of today while paying homage to the details of the past,” says Bradford Stewart, vice president of sales and marketing.

The company, whose 43,000-square-foot factory is in Register, Georgia, manufacturers the wood components in-house and orders glass and hardware from other sources.

Stewart Brannen Millworks house

Architect Historical Concepts

“We select hardware that is proven and reliable,” he says. “Hardware that isn’t going to be outdated or discontinued in five years, in case you were to have an issue. We also build in redundancies so that our products don’t rely on things like a custom gasket that must be in perfect order for the unit to perform properly.”

Most of Stewart Brannen’s projects are residential, but the company does have windows, doors and millwork installed in a number of award-winning public projects, including the Florida State University president’s mansion; The Masters House at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia; the Heritage House at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina; Citrus Square in Sarasota, Florida; and the Wallace House at the Augusta Country Club in Georgia.

“A great deal of our projects are in historic cities in coastal environments, which require impact or at least design-pressure ratings but are still subject to approval by an architectural review board, which must approve the aesthetic details of the products, and finally the engineers who calculate the heat loads for efficiency,” Stewart says. “What you end up with after checking all the boxes is a pretty incredible hybrid.”

Stewart Brannen Millworks house

Architect Historical Concepts

He adds that Stewart Brannen’s products are anchored in tradition, not trends. “Things become classics for a reason,” he says. “Quality never goes out of style.”

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