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Pros and Cons of Accordion Shutters (Bi-Fold and Tri-Fold)

This brief, but helpful article explains the pros and cons of accordion shutters for windows, as a room divider and for wide doors.
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Bathroom with folding shutters.

Image source: Wayfair “Get the Look”

You’re probably familiar with accordion doors for reach-in closets, but did you know their are accordion style shutters too?

While non-folding are far more popular, accordion (a.k.a. folding) are very useful in certain situations… specifically wide windows, openings and as room dividers.

This article briefly explains what these types of shutters are, pros and cons and ends with other shutter design options.

What are accordion shutters?

Accordion shutters are also referred to as track shutters as well as bi-fold and tri-fold shutters.

  1. Folding: They’re multi-panel shutters connected together with a hinge so that they fold.  You can get 2-panel (bi-fold) and 3-panel (tri-fold) types.
  2. Panel count: When referencing number of panels, it’s for one of the shutters, not both (i.e. both sides of the window).  For example, if a window has bi-fold shutters, the entire window will have four shutter panels.
  3. Track: Some are on tracks while some are not.  The door-style folding shutters are typically on a track, but not all folding window shutters are.
  4. 2,200 mm (86 inches) wide+: Folding are ideal if your window and/or patio door is 2,200 mm wide (source: Shutterdesign.co.uk).

Photo Examples

Here’s an example of a bi-fold accordion shutter:

Source: Shutterdesign.co.uk

Here’s an example of a tri-fold accordion shutter:

Source: Shutterdesign.co.uk

Pros

1. Wide windows

The single biggest advantage is that folding shutters make interior shutters possible for wide windows.  Single-panel shutters can only go so wide until the weight is unwieldy.  The simple solution is to use folding shutters which are on a rail and therefore eliminates the weight problem.

2. Bay windows

Folding shutters are commonly used on bay windows.  In other words, folding shutters make it more possible to install shutters in your bay window, specifically the usually wide middle window.  Here’s an example:

Bay window shutters

Source: S-Craft

3. Partially open (flexibility)

You can opt to open the shutters partially for a little light.  If you go with the louvered panel style, you can adjust the light quite a bit, both with how much you open the louvers as well as how much wide you open the folding shutter system.

5. Wide doors

You can also get track shutters that are as tall as doors and serve as folding doors.  This can be good in ultra-wide openings such as onto a patio.

Bifold shutters for wide doors

Source: S-Craft

6. Room Dividers

Door-style, full height folding shutters on tracks can make excellent room dividers as well.  Check it out:

Shutters for dividing a room

Source: S-Craft

7. Longevity:

Compared to blinds, shutters as window coverings last longer than blinds.  So while blinds can accommodate wide windows, with folding shutters you can as well with a longevity benefit.

8. Easy to clean:

Shutters are easier to clean than blinds, even louvered shutters because they are sturdier so you can quickly run a duster over them and squeeze it into the louver spaces to get rid of all the dust quickly.

Cons

1. You don’t get that classic plantation shutter look  

Accordion shutters have a lot more going on because they’re a series of panels.  This means they’re a bit busier to the eye and therefore you don’t get that classic plain plantation shutter look (which a lot of people like).

2. Vulnerable to damage

Any time you add a hinge and/or track to something, the product becomes more complex and is vulnerable to more problems.  Folding shutters are a more complex shutter system than single-panel shutters.

TIP: You’re better off adjusting the louvers to let in more light than opening them up by folding them open.  This results in less wear and tear.

More types of folding shutters

When it comes to shutter options, there are a lot of decisions to make.

In our main shutters article, we explain the many different shutter design options:

1. Cafe vs. Tier-on-Tier vs. Full-Height

2. Shutter Materials

3. Panel Styles









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