There’s a plethora of information on the internet on how to choose the right shutters for your home. And most of it is targeted with a sprinkle of marketing. In this article, we’re going to take you into the industry and show you the details that make up shutters. How they work, and how they’re made. By the end of this article, you should have some good to know information to help you or your clients make an educated decision.
For those that want to skip ahead, here’s a list of what we’re covering:
1) How Plantation Shutters work and what they do.
2) Material Science, Wood and Synthetics. Which is better?
3) Construction. Learn the parts that go together and why changing the style can change a shutters durability.
4) Plantation shutters. Where it’s made makes a difference.
How Plantation Shutters Work and What Shutters do.
Window treatments have been around since the beginning of time. When hunter gathering tribes would use rolls of reeds or animal skins to cover openings. This eventually evolved into a more efficient means of offering protection from the elements. But if we step back for a moment and look at window treatments as a whole. What do we expect them to do? Block light? Heat and cold? Weather? All of these are valid questions when deciding what window treatments to choose for your home.
The purpose of interior shutters has been and continues to be, to regulate the amount of light entering a room. While providing privacy and breathable air. This remains important for those in warmer climates. Where leaving the window open is necessary to allow the breeze to cool the home.
As it turns out, shutters not only regulate light and temperature, but also add to the overall style of the room. This is such an important factor because unlike other window treatments. That can be easily manipulated, removed, or hidden — shutters stand-out boldly. And are a permanent fixture within the home.
The permanence and cost also increase home equity. Adding an additional layer of value by installing shutters.
Material Science. Wood or Synthetic Shutters. Which is better?
Wood shutters are usually made of basswood, which is a mildly sustainable material found throughout North America. It’s lightweight, soft, and odorless with a beautiful, patterned grain, making it the perfect material for shutters. Many of the benefits that come with wood are mostly aesthetics. Wood in itself can be temperamental, requiring extra care and maintenance over time. But this isn’t the only thing one must consider when choosing wood shutters. Depending on the humidity of your home and the direction the window faces, exposing wood shutters to high-humidity and heat can cause warping and uneven drying of the wood panels, making the frame sag and twist over time. It’s important to consider this when choosing to install wood shutters in your home, especially when there are other options on the market.
Our recommendation for those who want wood shutters in their home. Is to consider how stable the temperature and humidity is in the location where the wood shutter will be located. If it’s mild, then wood shutters should be fine. If it’s not, and you plan on relying on your shutters as a barrier from the heat in the summer and cold in the winter. Then choosing a synthetic material may be a better option.
Polyethylene or “Poly” shutters have been all the rage the past decade. It’s created from a synthetic material that simulates the look of wood. Without all the environmental drawbacks, such as sustainability and durability. It’s denser and heavier than wood. And as a result, will never chip, split or fade. Due to its weight however, Poly may change shape over time when exposed to excessive heat. A solution was developed to combat this by extruding a strong metal spar within the core of the poly material itself. This enhanced poly material has since proved itself to be nearly perfect for the manufacturing of shutters. Creating a product that is almost indestructible by natural means.
When selecting your shutters, Poly shutters with an extruded core will always be a better choice than wood. The only time I would recommend wooden shutters is if. And only if, you plan on making a show of the wood grain by staining it.
It’s personal for everyone whether or not wood grain means anything to you, but for me, nothing comes close to the warmth and depth of natural wood grain, and I love being surrounded by it.
Construction. Learn the parts that go together. And why changing the style can change a shutters durability.
The way shutters are chosen and put together is often overlooked by the general population. For the most part, shutters can be mass produced in the same way you buy your clothing — and like clothing, shutters that are produced in this way are usually of lower quality, not possessing the elements that make shutters durable and worthwhile. The shutters made in our warehouse at Excellent Blinds & Shutters for example are all bespoke, customized in dimension and style per our client’s request. Below is a brief explanation of all the parts that go together, and how combining the right parts, can make your shutters last a lifetime.
Stile— Stiles are the vertical pieces material between which the louvres rotate.
Top Rail — The top rail is the horizontal bar at the top of a panel that provides the stability and structure of the shutter.
Bottom Rail — The bottom rail provides stability and structure to the panel, but at the bottom.
Tilt Rod — The tilt rod is a horizontal piece that links the louvres together so they open and close simultaneously.
Louvers — The louvres are the movable horizontal pieces of wood that open and close the shutter.
Hinge— The hinge holds the shutter panel to the frame.
MidRail — A horizontal bar that separates the shutter panel louvres into top and bottom sections.
Panel — A complete section of a shutter that mounts to the frame with hinges.
Frame — The surrounding box that’s mounted into the window opening that holds the panel.
Now that we know all the parts of a shutter, we can dive into construction details.
Shutters can be customized in every way, from single and double panel, full-length shutters, café style shutter that only cover the bottom part of a window. If you can think of it, then someone can make it. However, for the average homeowner and designer, it’s best to stick with a style that works around your life. Here are some examples:
Choosing between traditional center-mounted tilt rod or a hidden tilt rod. If you have kids or pets, go with the hidden rod as it’s less likely to get damaged.
A full-length frame will always last longer and look significantly better than a naked panel mounted directly into a window opening. But it doesn’t end there, selecting the right style of frame makes a difference with your interior design goals as well. See below for some examples:
Z-Frame: The “Z” is for the profile the frame makes as it’s mounted on the inside of the window sill, yet covers the surrounding outside edge. A big benefit of choosing this type is a reduction in light-bleed around the frame.
L-Frame: Just like the Z-Frame, the L-Frame is named after the shape it makes when mounted. The difference is that an L-Frame can be mounted on either inside or outside of the windowsill, giving you more versatility in decided whether you want your shutters recessed or projecting into the room.
Assembly of plantation shutters and why it makes a difference.
Manufacturing makes a difference and knowing how to tell between high quality and low quality production, not only saves you money; but enhances your overall quality of life. Shutters are no different when it comes to quality between cheap mass production sold at big-box stores like Home Depot or custom made-to-order shutters from a brand-name like Excellent Blinds & Shutters.
Mass produced shutters will always be limited to certain dimensions and potential mounting limitations when installing. Many contractors try to make it work by filling in the gaps with shims and doing on-the-spot modifications, which tends to solve the problem at the moment, but eventually causes fitment and durability issues over time. The quality of material used in mass production is always an issue as well, and when a problem does develop there’s no recourse to finding simple resolution.
Speaking from experience, any form of bespoke, made-to-order manufacturing is always better. The materials selected will always be examined to ensure they’re suitable, the techniques are constantly updated with the most technological advanced equipment, and every product produced get’s a personal touch because an actual human assembled and cared for that product. The result is something that will always age well and deliver outlasting value over its lifetime.
Does it make a difference where your product is made? You bet it does, and it shows.