In addition to improving the appearance of your home, exterior shutters offer a range of benefits, including providing an extra barrier of protection from intruders or keeping your home safer during storms. This guide will help you pick the best type of exterior shutters for your home.
Types of Shutters
Window shutters can enhance value by giving the home a finished and distinctive look. Exterior shutters also add a measure of security to ground-floor windows and, in areas of the country affected by tropical storms, protection against the elements.
Originally, functional shutters served to keep out the weather. Window openings in homes didn’t have glass, making shutters a necessity. They could be closed and bolted to serve as security as well as preventing cold winds, rain and snows from entering. Today, since window panes are standard in homes, decorative shutters are more common than functional shutters. However, shutters that are operational carry old-world charm and can still be used in conjunction with open windows to regulate light and air.
- Panel shutters are built with two solid panels. Their design offers extra security and some insulating properties. Panel shutters come in raised panel, flat panel and recessed panel styles. Raised panel variations include straight-top and arch-top. Panel shutters are more popular in colder climates.
- Louvered shutters generally feature two sets of slats separated by a center rail, offering a more traditional look. The slats can be operable to open wider or inoperable so that the slat position remains fixed. In either case, the slats allow air to filter through, making this style a popular choice in warm climates when a traditional look is preferred.
- Board and batten shutters are made from grouped single boards joined together with battens, which are shorter crosspieces of wood. Battens can be placed horizontally or at an angle.
- Bahama shutters, also called Bermuda, are a type of louvered shutters that are installed from the top of the window rather than attached at the sides.
- Rolling and Security Shutters are most often seen on commercial properties, but residential models are becoming more common. Security shutters are durable and designed to withstand great force to resist strong storms or intruders.
- Hurricane shutters are used to prevent broken windows during a hurricane. They are often constructed in one large panel to cover the whole window. They are usually made of steel, aluminum or fabric, but plywood panels can also be used to cover the windows during an emergency.
When it comes to choosing shutter materials, there are advantages and disadvantages to the most popular choices.
Wooden shutters have a longstanding reputation for durability when stained and treated properly. They are highly customizable, able to be painted or stained to complement a wide variety of exterior decor. Cedar shutters, mahogany shutters and pine shutters are among the most popular choices for exteriors, while basswood remains the leader in interior shutters.
Vinyl shutters have the advantage of being very economical and lightweight due to their design. However, they can be difficult to clean and need to be replaced more often than shutters of other materials. They are also only suitable for decorative shutters since they are not heavy enough to provide much protection.
Composite shutters look and feel real, but they have a few advantages over traditional wood. Composite does not absorb moisture, making it mold and rot resistant. They are not susceptible to termites, and composite shutters have double the expected lifespan of their real wood counterpart. While they don’t take wood stain, they can be painted. In cost, they are slightly less expensive than real wood, and they require less annual maintenance.
Shutter Installation Tips
- Shutters usually come in a standard width of 15 inches with lengths between 36 and 74 inches.
- Window measurements for functional shutters should be absolutely accurate, because the shutters will need to close over the window and meet at the center seam. Measure the total width of the window at the top, center and bottom, and then divide the lowest measurement by 2.
- For decorative shutters, you only need to measure the height of the window, since the shutters will only align alongside the window rather than close over it. Measure the window height in three places, then choose a shutter with a height matching the smallest measurement.
- Shutters can also be installed indoors to give a bay window greater aesthetic appeal.
A variety of shutter hardware options enhance the effectiveness of shutters.
- Use weather-resistant shutter caps to protect shutters from moisture and increase longevity.
- Shutter hinges provide functionality and are available in sturdy, weatherproof materials for exterior shutters.
- Shutter dogs, or "tie backs," keep shutters in place when they're open.
- If you plan to use your shutters to protect windows against stormy weather, shutter bolts will ensure they stay closed even when they're buffeted by fierce winds.
Whether your style demands rustic shutters, modern shutters or even farmhouse shutters, adding these pieces of exterior window decor will make your home stand out and create an even more visually appealing look.