Project Guide

How to Install Exterior Shutters

1
Position Shutters
An exterior shutter is placed against a window for installation.

Before shutter installation begins, make sure the pieces are oriented correctly. The bottom rail on most styles of window shutters is wider than the top rail.


  • Position a shutter in the desired location next to the window on the exterior of the house.
  • Leave a 1/4-inch gap between vinyl shutters or composite exterior shutters and the window trim to allow room for expansion and contraction in different temperatures. A gap is not necessary for stationary wooden shutters.
  • Use a level to ensure the shutter is plumb and mark the location of the outside corners with a pencil.
2
Measure, Mark and Drill Mounting Holes
A mounting hole is drilled near the corner of an exterior shutter.
  • Remove the shutter and place it face-up on a flat surface suitable for drilling, such as a piece of plywood stretched across sawhorses.
  • Measure and mark locations for the mounting holes 2-inches from the top and 2-inches from the bottom in the center of both side rails of the shutter.
  • Larger exterior shutters with height measuring 44-inches and more require six fasteners – one near each corner and two additional fasteners located midway along the length of the side rails.
  • Use a drill with a multi-purpose 1/4-inch bit to pre-drill holes through the shutter for the shutter locks at each reference mark. Read more about shutter locks below.


Note: If attaching shutters to stone or brick exteriors, adjust the placement of the mounting holes up or down as necessary to ensure that the fasteners will secure into mortar joints.

3
Drill Pilot Holes into Wall
A pilot hole is drilled for installing exterior shutters.
  • Reposition the shutter on the wall. 
  • Use the holes in the shutter as a guide to bore into the wall surface to a depth of 3-1/4-inches. 


Tip: Wrap tape around the drill bit to use as a depth guide.


  • With the 1⁄4-inch pilot holes drilled into the shutter and wall, remove the shutter from the wall.
  • Enlarge each hole in the shutter by using a 3/8-inch drill bit.


Note: If installing shutters on brick or other masonry, wear eye protection while using a hammer drill fitted with a carbide masonry bit to make pilot holes. Be sure to remove dust from the hole after drilling.

4
Attach the Shutter
A hammer taps a shutter lock to install exterior shutters.
  • Reposition the shutter.
  • Push shutter locks through the holes in the shutter and into the hole in the wall surface.
  • Use a hammer to gently tap the fasteners to snug the shutter to the siding.
  • Overtightening fasteners during shutter installation can create warping or dimples on the surface of vinyl shutters
  • Repeat for other shutters.
5
Shutter Screw Installation Method
A screwdriver tightens a screw to install an exterior shutter.

Using metal screws with painted heads is an alternate method to install exterior shutters on all types of siding, stucco and masonry.


  • Use a drill with a multi-purpose 11/64-inch bit to pre-drill holes through the shutter for the screws at each reference mark.
  • Reposition the shutter on the wall. 
  • Use the holes in the shutter as a guide to bore into the wall surface to a depth of 3-1/4-inches. 
  • With the 11⁄64-inch pilot holes drilled into the shutter and wall, remove the shutter from the wall.
  • Enlarge each hole in the shutter with a 5/16-inch drill bit.
  • Reposition the shutter.
  • Insert shutter screws through the holes in the shutter and into the pilot hole.
  • Use a Phillips screwdriver to tighten the screw and secure the shutter to the wall surface, being careful to not overtighten and avoid warping.
  • Repeat for other shutters.


Note: Use a carbide masonry bit with a hammer drill for making pilot holes into masonry. Be sure to wear eye protection while operating the hammer drill and remove dust from holes before inserting screws.


Mounting hardware for shutter installation is often included with the purchase of new shutters. These fasteners can be metal screws or plastic shutter fasteners that are suitable for clamping exterior shutters to a variety of wall surfaces – wood, aluminum, vinyl, stucco, hardboard, brick or masonry. They are known by a variety of terms including shutter locks, shutter plugs and shutter spikes.


This type of shutter fastener has raised rings along its shaft that allow the spike to easily enter a hole but is difficult to pull out after insertion.


To remove shutters installed with this type of shutter fastener, insert a pair of snips or a hacksaw blade between the wall surface and the shutter to cut the spike. Remove shutters installed with screws by simply unscrewing it from the wall.