An exceptionally well organized shutter buying guide that sets out every component, type, style, material, shape and size for shutters.
Take a look at your windows and how they look from outside your home. Look at your windows from the inside as well.
Do your windows look too plain?
Look at the window frame, the glass, and just the way they sit there. Imagine them with a little window treatment with interior window shutters or exterior window shutters.
Window shutters are designed with two functions in mind. First of all, they help protect against the elements, especially wind, but the also provide privacy as well. With respect to protecting against the elements, these days the only type of shutters that actually do this are hurricane shutters which are designed to protect windows.
Second, shutters are decorative. Of course, the decorative purpose stems from the functional purpose. Originally shutters were used in place of windows and so they were the only option for many homes to keep out the elements. However, now it’s unthinkable to not have windows so other than privacy and hurricanes, shutters are decorative.
Why this shutter guide?
One thing we strive for extensively at Homestratosphere.com is to help people research home and garden products. We do this by researching a particular product extensively, such as shutters, and then organize the types in a way that makes sense. Most “shutter types” articles provide a single-tier list. Same with the stores that sell shutters. What we do is we break down the different elements of a shutter and then organize them into a guide so you get a better understanding of your options.
With that in mind, our “types of shutters guide” below is really a series of different sections explaining the different elements of a shutter, specifically indoor vs. outdoor, surface style, size/coverage, shape and material. These are all aspects you must consider when buying shutters.
Related: Types of Window Treatments | Hot Window Treatment Trends | Types of Drapes | Blinds vs. Shades vs. Shutters vs. Curtains | Bahama Shutters | Houses with Exterior Shutters | Online Blinds and Shutters Stores | Are Plantation Shutters Out of Style | Roller Shutters
I. The Shutter Buying Guide
A. Shutter Location: Interior vs. Exterior
Your first decision when buying shutters is deciding whether to get exterior or interior shutters.
1. Interior Shutters
Interior shutters are easy to adjust from the inside for privacy purposes. Moreover, interior shutters offer options for how much of the window they cover including café (partial window coverage), full height and tier-on-tier (see our Size/Window Coverage section below for more on this). Like many home products, you can also get custom shutters built to your exact specifications.
2. Exteriors Shutters
Typically, exterior shutters these days are for exterior design. Yes, they can be functional in that they can provide privacy and/or protection from the weather, but mostly they’re for aesthetic purposes or “curb appeal”. That said, hurricane shutters (aka Bahama shutters) are also exterior shutters and they serve a very important purpose, which is protecting windows in high wind weather.
B. Parts of a Window Shutter (Anatomy)
C. Panel Styles
Shutter surfaces vary as well. The surface provides the primary aesthetic of the shutter, although which surface style you get can result in a functional difference too. For instance, louvered shutters can often be adjusted to let in more or less light, whereas solid surface shutters don’t offer this.
Below are the different shutter surface styles you can get.
A louvered shutter features a series of wood slats that overlap each other on the same frame. This adds a detailed design that creates a country-like look to your home. This can be a single or double-height option with small supports used in the middle for the latter to create a stronger body.
Louvered shutters are used for both interior and exterior shutters.
Louver size: When choosing a louver shutter, you must decide how wide of a louver (i.e. the individual planks) you want. Typical sizes range from 1.25″ to 4.5″, but of course you can get custom louvers built as well.
Exterior louvered example:
Interior louvered example:
2. Raised Panel
Raised panel shutters are made with box-like designs where a series of rectangular features will stand out from the rest of the frame. This is identical to what you might notice on a typical series of cabinets in your kitchen.
A shaker shutter looks similar to a raised panel shutter but has a flat body. The rectangular shapes are made with a series of recessed indentations that create a nice and detailed look without having sticking out. Such shutters can be placed outside or inside your windows.
The southern charm of plantation shutters makes them beautiful in their design. These offer wide louvers or angled slats fixed around a series of intervals. These allow light to move through them. You can get one of these added on the outside of your home although they are more frequently installed in interiors. If anything they can come with some adjustable features that allow you to move the slats up and down to let in light as you see fit.
5. Board and Batten
Board and batten shutters are made with a series of wooden boards linked together through a series of battens. These are crosspieces that extend over the boards. This is a classic option that can be cut into a variety of shapes based on the curves around a window. This is made to establish a more rustic look or a classy design depending on how elaborate the shutter’s look.
A Scandinavian series of window shutters features a board and batten design mixed with a series of cutouts and carefully cut designs. These are typically a little thicker in design as they can seal out difficult weather conditions when closed up properly. These are also made to cover the entire window surface.
You can get a hybrid shutter that’s part louver and part solid. Check it out:
D. Size/Window Coverage
By size/window coverage, we refer to how much of the window the shutter covers. Your options are:
A café-style shutter is inspired by the many cafes in Europe that these can be found around. This combines a traditional plantation setup on the bottom part of the window. This is made with a nicer look that adds a stunning appearance with a strong sense of detail in mind. It establishes a good look that adds something attractive and nice. This typically works best in outdoor areas although it stands out in some indoor spots depending on how they are built.
2. Full Height
You can get full height in both louvered and solid shutters. Louvered is more common, but solid is an option too.
Louvered full-height interior:
Solid (shaker) full-height interior:
Tier-on-tier is a nice option because it gives you options for which part of your window you’d like open and which part closed off with the shutters.
E. Shutter Shapes
You can choose from one of many shapes for your window shutters including the following popular choices:
1. Arch Shapes
3. French Door Cuts
7. Specialty Shapes
F. Accordion Shutters
Most shutters are single panel, meaning they don’t have a fold, like folding closet doors. However, for wider windows, folding shutters can be the better option because of their longer reach. The number of folds refers to one side. If the shutter has one set of hinges, it’s a bi-fold shutter. If two sets of hinges, it’s a tri-fold shutter.
Below are the 3 types of shutters with respect to panel folds.
1. No-Fold (single panel)
2. Bi-Fold (two panels)
G. Shutter Materials
You have to check carefully when looking for quality window shutters. There are many great materials for you to take a look at although the option that works best for you should be chosen carefully based on what you have to work with:
Wood is a staple that can work for all kinds of shutters. It can be sealed, stained, and painted in a variety of forms. It can also be cut in many ways. You would have to check it regularly to see that the materials aren’t fading, warping, or otherwise wearing out from the elements.
2. Engineered Wood
Engineered wood is different for how it uses a series of joints paired together. This entails many wooden parts secured together in one simple body. This creates a sturdy look that adds a nice style. It can be painted in many forms but it cannot be stained because the joints would appear at that point.
Laminate materials feature a series of thin lumber slats affixed together to create a sturdy body. This often uses glue to keep everything together. Sometimes slim paper sheets are painted and then affixed with glue. This is best for areas where precipitation is common as laminate materials do amazingly well when handling rain. You would still have to maintain this in the same manner as you would handle wood in terms of colors and stains being used.
Metal is ideal for offering a sturdy body but it can dent or chip easily. Make sure you watch for how the metal is coated as well so it will not warp or buckle. Of course, the metal materials in question can be painted in a variety of ways and can come in one singular shape to make it easier for you to prepare a good body. You should still watch for how well the material is holding up so it can work in its best possible condition.
Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is a hard vinyl surface that is heavily reinforced. It offers a series of small connecting rods on the inside to keep the shutters together. This is popular for how it can handle the sun’s UV rays and may be recommended for properties where the sun might be rather bright. Like with any other vinyl surface, it can scratch easily and should be kept away from any materials that might possibly be too abrasive.
6. Foam Synthetic
Foam synthetic materials can be used to create a wood-like body that features a synthetic metal surface with a foam interior. The foam is applied to absorb wind, heat, and cold alike. It can be useful in spots where temperature extremes might be strong but at the same time they are heavy and can be tough to close or use in some instances.
H. Shutter Frame Styles (shutters.com)
There isn’t one set frame style. It will largely depend on where you buy your shutters. Some places may have one frame style to choose from, while others have several frame styles.
To give you an idea about different frame styles, here’s a screenshot of the shutter frame offerings by Shutters.com:
II. Window Shutter Styles Infographic
III. Where to Buy Shutters Online
Now that you know your shutter options, here are what we consider to be online merchants that offer a good variety of shutters.
IV. More Details
The cost of window shutters will vary based on many factors. Typical shutters can cost around $1,000 to $5,000. The cost varies based on whether they are customized, their materials, and how extensive the installation process will be.
The physical shutters can cost about $20 to $50 per square foot. Added costs for installing individual pieces into a surface and the labor involved will make an impact.
The sizes of window shutters are typically made to where they can cover the entire physical body of your windows. This means that they might be about three to five feet in height and around two to three feet wide. You can always get your shutters customized with specific cuts based on your certain needs although you would have to check carefully to ensure that you have a proper fit on any surface you want to use.
3. Key Features
When looking for great window shutters, you have to make sure what you are using is organized properly. There are a few good things that can be added to your window shutters like the following:
- Locks can be added to make it easier for you to secure them in their right spaces.
- You can also use adjustable slats on some models. This could help you adjust how light moves through your shutters.
- Some shutters may also come with folding panels. These all you to quickly open and close your panels with ease.
Remember when looking for window shutters that you take a good look at the assorted variety of window shutters that can work for your property. Check carefully to see that whatever you are using works well enough and that they can be prepared right around your space. Don’t forget to look at the value of your shutters and how they are sized so you can have a bit of control over it all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about window shutters.
Are Shutters Easy to Clean?
Shutters are extremely easy to clean and require little maintenance. Simply vacuum them off with the hand tool of your vacuum with a brush attachment. Tougher dirt and grime can be wiped away with a cloth and some vinegar. Refrain from using water on wood shutters as this can damage the wood.
Are Shutters Good for Bedrooms?
Shutters are great additions to nearly any room in the house, but they’re especially useful in bedrooms. They block out a lot of light and a decent amount of noise to help you get sleep, they help maintain a really comfortable room temperature, and they even help cut down on dust, fur and other allergens in comparison to curtains.
Do Shutters Reduce Noise?
Shutters cut down on noise substantially. While wood shutters work great for this purpose, if your main intent with the shutters is to block out noise, aluminum is your best option.
Can Shutters be Painted? Spray Painted?
Yes. In fact, most shutters, both wood and aluminum, are painted. Spray painting is the best and most common method of painting shutters, and the process is very easy. Painting with a brush is good for a more authentic look on wooden shutters, and spray painted shutters can easily be touched up with a brush.
Can Shutters Be Fitted to Any Window?
Shutters are amazingly versatile. Factory-made shutters can fit nearly any modern window size and shape. Oddly shaped windows or windows with strange frames may require custom-made shutters, but almost any window can have shutters installed over them.
Who, When and Where Were Shutters Invented?
Historians have dated the usage of window shutters as far back as ancient Greece where louvered shutters made of marble were used in windows for the sake of light and ventilation as well as protecting the interior of the building from weather damage.
The traditional shutters we know of today date back to the mid-1480s. These shutters were made of solid wood and covered about half of the window. In addition to allowing for light control and airflow, these shutters were also decorative.
The actual inventor of those shutters is unknown, but the patent for modern-day shutters is held by the American inventor John Hampton on August 21, 1841.
How Long Do Shutters Last?
Most shutters will last a minimum of ten years. If they’re high-quality shutters and they’re properly maintained throughout their lifespan, they can last upwards of 25 years.
Can Shutters Be Repaired?
If a few slats are cracked or broken, they can be replaced relatively easily. You simply need to remove the old ones and insert new ones. If the frame of the shutters is damaged, you can patch it with glue or putty and give it a fresh coat of paint. However, if the damage is too extensive, such as both the slats and frame are falling apart, it might be best to replace the entire shutter.
Can Shutters Be Recycled? If So, How?
Shutters are most commonly made of wood, and most waste-management companies have options for recycling wood. There is either a specific bin designated for wood at your local waste-management center or you can call and ask for a curbside pickup.
Aluminum shutters can be recycled at your local scrap metal recycling facility.
It’s become very popular for old shutters to be repurposed as well. They are commonly hung up in bedrooms as decorations, turned into benches and made into wall boards to display photos and notes.
Can Used Shutters Be Sold? If So, Where?
Most retailers won’t buy used shutters for the sake of quality assurance to their customers. However, you can sell used shutters through third-party websites such as Amazon or eBay, or you can set up private sales through avenues such as Craigslist.
Do Shutters Block Out Light?
The most common reason people want to install shutters is for the sake of light control, and they are extremely effective methods of blocking out light. Their effectiveness depends on the materials and design as some have wider gaps between slats and thinner materials that allow more light to pass through, but shutters are great options for light control in a room.
Can Shutters Be Used as Doors?
Shutters work great as closet, dressing room, kitchen, dining room or patio doors. They are even frequently used as room partitions. Shutters make for great doors since they’re lightweight, easy to install and provide privacy in certain rooms while also allowing airflow.
Can Shutters be Refinished?
Most shutters can very easily be refinished. In fact, most refinishing jobs are so simple that many people choose to do it on their own instead of taking them to a professional. They just need to be disassembled, sanded, some replacement hardware, if necessary, and a fresh coat of paint.
Can Shutters Be Attached to Vinyl Siding?
Yes, shutters can easily be attached to vinyl siding. The only thing you need to change in the installation process is leaving the screws a little loose and making the holes for the screws about ¼ inch larger than the screw. Vinyl will expand and contract due to changing seasons and weather conditions, so you need to leave room for the screws to move to avoid cracking the siding.