Angie's LIST Guide to
Shutters

Nowadays, most window shutters are decorative and have no practical purpose, though in some climates functional shutters are used for protection against severe weather and harsh sunlight.
 

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Though they are mainly decorative, shutters can help add curb appeal to any home's exterior. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Douglass O.)
Though they are mainly decorative, shutters can help add curb appeal to any home's exterior. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Douglass O.)
 
 

Historical uses

For hundreds of years -- perhaps thousands -- people have used window shutters to protect their home from wind, weather and even attack.   Before window glass was in use, hinged wooden shutters were the only way to "close" a window. 

Due to the important purpose they provided these shutters were often heavy and were made from an exterior grade wood which often included cypress and cedar.

As window glass became common, shutters remained in use and were often operated by hand crank to protect the glass from breakage during bad weather.  Over time, shutters began to lose their functional purpose and became primarily decorative. 

Exterior shutters

Most decorative shutters are designed to be installed in a stationary manner around the perimeter of the window.  They are designed to be permanently secured to the sides of the window and are manufactured in aluminum, vinyl, wood and resin materials.  There are many affordable stationary shutter styles that can be purchased.

Louvered Shutters

Although many decorative shutters use a horizontal slat design, these imitate the appearance of a certain type of functional shutters.  Actual louvered shutters have slats that open and close like venitian blinds.  These shutters are commonly manufactured with wood but can be found in vinyl options also.  Louvered shutters include styles such as a board and batten design, raised board design and plantation design.  This style of shutter can be found installed on homes in the southern portions of the United States.  One drawback to functional louvered shutters is that they are difficult to repaint.

Storm shutters can help protect windows from high winds during extreme weather, such as hurricanes.
Storm shutters can help protect windows from high winds during extreme weather, such as hurricanes.

Hurricane Shutters

Hurricane shutters are designed to protect the windows and doors of the home from being damaged during severe storms.  Traditional exterior shutters, even those that are functional, generally aren't strong enough to hold up during a hurricane.  The most common styles available for hurricane shutters include roll-down hurricane, accordion, storm panels, colonial, Bahama and plywood panels.  These shutters vary in cost, quality and strength as well as their availability. 

Most hurricane shutters  are constructed from  aluminum or wood.  They can be permanently secured to the home and closed when needed, or they can be removed and stored until they are needed.  Consumers will find that most hurricane shutters cost between $200 and $500 depending on the materials that are used to manufacture them, the hardware necessary to install them, the specific manufacturing company and the color options which are available.

Interior shutters

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Plantation shutters can provide a unique, timeless look to any window in your home. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member John R.)
Plantation shutters can provide a unique, timeless look to any window in your home. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member John R.)

Interior shutter designs provide a number of design and functional options.   The styles of interior shutters range from simple small window coverings that only cover one section of a window to large shutters that are secured to the top of the window and hang to the floor.  Some of the benefits that are available by installing interior shutters include the light filtering as well as the privacy.

Plantation Shutters

Plantation shutters for the interior of the home are often bolted to cover an entire window section.  These shutters connect to the interior of the window frame and feature a louver that can open and close the slats of the shutters for lighting and ventilation control.   Plantation shutters for the interior of the home are mostly constructed from wood and can be painted to compliment or accent the room’s design.  Plantation can vary in cost depending on the specific style and installation design which the individual creates.

Colonial Shutters

Colonial shutters are split in the center of the window and are designed to pull open and closed.  These shutters work best in rooms in which there is adequate space to open the shutters fully.  Colonial shutters can be constructed from vinyl but are mainly found in a wood design.  They can be painted to compliment the room in which they are installed.  Colonial shutters are one of the most cost efficient shutter options that are available depending on the manufacturer and materials involved.

Shopping tips

Measure the windows.  Depending on the style of shutters you want to purchase you will either need to measure from the inside of your window frame from one side to the other.   There are other styles that require you to measure from the top of the window to the bottom of the window frame, as this will allow for the hardware necessary to secure your shutters in place.

Don't just buy the cheapest.  Inexpensive shutters may be constructed from less than quality products.  This is particularly important when selecting hurricane shutters which you want to be adequately constructed to protect your home.

Consider the color. You may be able to buy shutters that match the other existing trim and accents of your home.  For exterior shutters you will want to ensure that the shutters match the color of your window frames, awning, doors and other accents around the outside of your home.  For interior shutters you will want to look at the window trim, molding and cabinets featured in the room in which the shutters are installed.

Maintain the illusion.  When purchasing stationary window shutters you still want to provide the illusion that the shutters can close accurately over the window.  Although decorative shutters are rarely the correct width to cover the window if closed, the height should match the actual window height.

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