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What is a shadow gap?

Category: Architecture November 12th, 2012 by mbc

A recorded episode of Grand Designs introduced me to shadow gaps. Apparently the gaps had cost £10,000 in the house in question. One of the patrons questioned the wisdom of this architect led spend and that left me wondering, just what are shadow gaps?

Well, it turns out they are a grandiose term for a space between two surfaces. For example between the frame of a set of shutters and the window frame / wall against which they are installed (as in the photograph below) or between a plastered wall and a door lining. By leaving a narrow gap, the two surfaces ‘float’ apart rather than being butted up tightly together. The gap will usually be in shadow and when properly executed is both attractive to the eye and practical in that it leaves a gap to allow breathing, contraction or expansion. Also, where installing a new surface alongside a pre-existing one the shadow gap introduces a margin for error and removes the need for exact millimetre perfect measuring. This can be seen in the photograph of the shutters I installed retrospectively in the barn below – a relatively quick and easy job, made much easier by the gap between the wall and the shutters frame.

From Shutters

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Windows shuttered

Category: Products & Materials December 31st, 2009 by mbc

For as long as we’ve been planning and designing the conversion of the barn the issue of how to screen the large window on the yard side of the building has been nagging at us.

The challenge being to allow as much light in as possible whilst retaining a degree of privacy (although it’s hardly Oxford Street out there).

We toyed around with various blind, curtain and shutter based options – the favourite always being shutters although the price tag always seemed steep.

After a quote for well over £3,000 pounds fitted put me completely off the idea for a time, I eventually came back to them when I discovered via Google, Opennshut who offer a DIY shutter solution at a very competitive price.

I emailed and talked on the phone through the options with the very helpful Sam, then placed an order and waited for delivery.

Delivery was via DHL and wasn’t an auspicious start as my shutters were jumbled together in the back of a transit van and the driver and I had to drag them out and man-handle them into the barn – despite the warnings and urges to caution displayed on the box.

Once inside things improved as the shutters were very well packed and protected and nothing untoward had befallen them in transit.

As you can see from the pictures, my window consists of four shutter ‘doors’, each of which opens independently and a frame for the shutters that mirrors the window frame.

The two sets of doors (‘outers’ and ‘inners’) were boxed separately and the frame was in the third box.

So removing all the pieces from the packaging I had a frame and four doors.

The frame was pretty easy to assemble.

The top and bottom bars where labelled and the vertical bars pretty easy to figure out.

Once identified and laid out in the correct position the six pieces of the frame slid together easily.

At this stage I made my first mistake as I forgot to remove the thin facia strips that slot in along the front of each bar of the frame and allow access to the screw holes through which the frame is attached to the existing window.

So, to cut a long story short, after assembling, de-assembling and re-assembling the frame I had a completed pretty sturdy frame lying on the floor in front of the window.

So in rapid succession to my first mistake, I made my second when I didn’t test fit the shutters into place with the frame still laying horizontally on the floor, but instead put the frame in place against the window, using the provided spacers and wedges. Not test fitting the shutters made fitting one of the shutters a little fiddly as I mention below.

The frame was quickly screwed through predrilled holes to the window frame and then the facia strips I’d messed about with earlier clicked back into place to tidy things up.

Three of the four doors easily slid into place, the fourth required a little coaxing with some loosening of the hinges and the hinge pin needing a little firm handling to slip into place.
I don’t think I had the frame 100% square and I could have avoided this by test hanging the shutter doors whilst the frame was still on the floor – but no big deal.

But that was that, I hope the pictures show how neat and effective the shutters are – they look great from both indoors and out and provide complete privacy – try as I might I can’t peak through any gaps in them.

Great thanks to Sam and Opennshut and a very sound recommendation to speak to Sam if you’re in the market for shutters.

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