Exterior window shutters (Figure 1) provide curb appeal to almost any home, and in some cases provide protection from the elements.
Figure 1 - Collage of exterior window shutters
Window shutters were originally placed on homes in order to protect the home from the elements, and control the amount of light that would enter a room. Today, the vast majority of exterior window shutters are installed for aesthetic value only and are permanently mounted to the walls adjacent to windows. The one major exception being homes that are equipped with hurricane shutters.
Note: If you are installing standard exterior shutters on hinges so that they can be closed over a window or door, it is extremely important to consider the hinge and locking hardware in both the open and closed positions. Every geographic area is confronted by high winds from time to time. Most exterior window shutter hardware does not provide an air seal and hence winds will get in behind the shutters. Poor quality hinges and locks or hinges and locks that are not properly installed to window casings or walls can easily be ripped apart during high winds and storms.
This article will discuss fixed exterior window shutters that are only installed for aesthetic reasons.
There are basically four different styles of shutters; louver (Figure 2), raised panel (Figure 3), combination louver and panel (Figure 4) and board and batten (Figure 5).
Figure 2 - Louvered exterior wood shutter
Figure 3 - Raised panel exterior wood shutter
Figure 4 - Combination louver and panel exterior wood shutter
Figure 5 - Board and batten exterior wood shutter
The style of the shutter has no inherent value other than personal preference for the overall appearance of your home. However, it should be noted that louvered shutters are more difficult to paint or refinish when required.
Although square tops are by far the most common exterior shutter. Each of the styles is also available in four different top angles to match the angles and shapes of specific windows; square top (Figure 6), quarter arch (Figure 7), quarter round (Figure 8) and angled top (Figure 9).
Figure 6 - Square top window shutter
Figure 7 - Quarter arch top window shutter
Figure 8 - Quarter round top window shutter
Figure 9 - Angled top window shutter
Exterior window shutters are available in a number of different materials:
Vinyl exterior window shutters are the least expensive of all the materials used. Most are relatively flimsy and should only be used as a decorative addition to the house. Vinyl shutters should never be installed to open and close. They come in a variety of colors, can be painted and come in louver (Figure 2), raised panel (Figure 3) and board and batten (Figure 5) styles. They must be purchased from a group of standard sizes, as they cannot be customized. The tops are square (Figure 6). They generally have hollow backs which can provide the perfect location for insect nests. They are best used on windows on the upper story of a home. From ground level - up close, they can look very cheap.
Composite exterior window shutters are made from a blend of plastics and wood products. They are a relatively new entry into the window shutter market. When composite materials for outdoor projects were introduced they were hailed as the be all and end all of materials, requiring no maintenance. However, time has proven that the material can have problems. Mold is not an uncommon problem with some outdoor composite materials and the material is now said to be low maintenance. Composite shutters can be used as a decorative element or they can be installed to open and close. They are a solid material so insects cannot conveniently nest. They are available in a number of colors, can be painted and are available in louver (Figure 2), raised panel (Figure 3) and board and batten (Figure 5) styles. They are more expensive than vinyl shutters but less expensive than aluminum, fiberglass or wood. They can be custom ordered to any size.
Fiberglass exterior window shutters are by far the most expensive of all the materials. These shutters are as close to a perfect product as you can get. They are almost maintenance free, come in a variety of colors and can be painted. They can be produced to storm protection specifications and are ideal for those homeowners who want a shutter that can be opened and closed. They can be custom made for almost any size and style and are probably the best exterior shutter to use over doors.
Originally aluminum shutters were flimsy and had a tendency to warp in very hot weather. However, over the years many improvements have been made to the manufacture of shutters from aluminum, to the point where they are generally accepted as valid wood shutter replacements on historical homes. Many aluminum shutters are made to hurricane standards, offering protection for both residents and property. They can be installed as decorative shutters or to open and close. They are relatively light weight and are usually powder coated rather than wet painted. They come in a variety of styles and can be made to custom sizes.
Wood shutters provide the best in flexibility when it comes to styles and exact sizing. Wood was the original material used for shutters and is still the choice of many concerning homeowners. The shutters are generally made from pine or cedar which have inherently long outdoor life. Wood shutters can be painted and stained to bring out the natural beauty of the grains. Wood does have a higher on-going maintenance cost then many of the other materials - but it still provides the
class that only it can bring to a home.
For further information on shutters visit: Shutterland.com
If you are considering adding exterior shutters to your home, which is not a small expense.You may wish to see what the shutters will look like before you invest in the purchase and installation. The new 3D home design software packages will allow you to see the shutters on your home, change colors, sizes and styles. Definitely worth the investment!