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Window Shutters

These days, most shutters are added to a house for appearance only because exterior window shutters can vastly improve the appearance of a house by dressing it up. These purely decorative shutters are permanently attached to the exterior of the house and will not open or close. There are also security and storm shutters, which we discuss separately, that can be installed to protect your windows from flying debris during storms and from break-ins..

Shutters can be ordered in a variety of materials, including vinyl, wood, newer composite materials, aluminum, and fiberglass. The price will depend on the material chosen and the size of the shutter. Shutters can be purchased at home improvement stores, through catalogs, and from online sites, which often have detailed instructions on how to get the right size. They are easy to install and inexpensive to ship. Consider the following when buying exterior shutters:

  • There are a number of traditional shutter styles, including louvered, flat panel, raised panel, and board and batten. Selecting one is largely a matter of personal choice. If you live in a house that is based on a historical style such as colonial or Victorian, you will probably want to pick a shutter style that is appropriate to that style. If you live in a historic district, you should check local ordinances to see which styles are acceptable.
  • Some manufacturers offer their shutters in a range of colors. Ordering these can save time and money, as the shutters will not need to be painted. Also, factory applied color often also lasts longer.
  • The following are commonly manufactured shutters:
    • Vinyl shutters are the least expensive, but not the best quality. They have maintenance free, molded through color and a simulated wood grain texture.
    • Wood shutters are the most traditional. They are frequently made from cedar or pine. They can be ordered bare wood or primed for you to apply your own custom color. Over the years the paint on wood shutters will fade and peel, so they are not maintenance free. In many climates wood can eventually rot.
    • Composite shutters are more expensive, but they will last longer, especially in high maintenance locations such as salt air or high humidity.
    • Aluminum shutters are also highly weather resistant, but they are more expensive. Their powder coat finish comes in hundreds of custom colors, and they will not rust.
    • Fiberglass shutters are the most expensive, but they are virtually indestructible. They can be ordered fully operational, so they will close to protect windows from storm damage.

When measuring for shutter size, remember that the relationship between height and width is visually important. Order shutters in pairs. The height should be determined by measuring the height of the window, not counting the sill. If you want the shutter to be longer than the window, you can add a few inches. The width of a single shutter should be half the window width,

as the shutters should look as if they would just cover the window if they were closed. Attached shutters can be up to 2 inches narrower than this width and still look good. Order shutters for double windows by measuring the overall width of the opening and dividing by 4.

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