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House & Home

Choosing Shutters - Inside and Out

Posted May 15, 2008
Updated May 22, 2008

Shutters have been around for hundreds of years. Originally used on the inside of windows before glass, shutters provided protection for homeowners from pests and the elements. In the nineteenth century, shutters slowly made their way to the exterior of homes. People chose to use shutters not only for protection but also for decoration. Since then, shutters have come a long way and are now available in a variety of sizes, styles and finishes.

Today's shutters can be used on the inside and outside of your home and can be painted or stained, depending on the overall look that you want to create.

Exterior Shutters

Exterior shutters are available in two styles: fixed and operable. Fixed Shutters are those that are attached permanently to the outside of your home. Since the shutters cannot be moved, they simply serve as a decorative feature to your home. Adding this type of shutter to your home can help increase its curb appeal by adding color and architectural accents. Operable Shutters are hinged so that they can close over the glass of your windows. This type of shutter helps ward off intruders, provides protection during storms and protects you from the glare of the sun.

When it comes to shutter materials, the options are numerous. We've highlighted a few of the most popular on the market.

  • Wood Shutters: Wood shutters are the most common shutters on the market. Wood shutters come in a variety of patterns that can help create the look you are seeking on the outside of your home. If you choose to use wooden outdoor shutters, they must be maintained properly for them to last.
  • Composite Shutters: Composite shutters provide a great alternative to wood shutters. These shutters, which are virtually maintenance free, are custom manufactured from state-of-the-art PVC and thermally stable fiberglass.
  • Vinyl Shutters: Vinyl shutters are the most reasonably priced shutters on the market. They are lightweight, easy to install and readily available in most home centers or even online.
  • Storm Shutters: For those of you who are concerned about hurricanes or tornadoes, you may want to invest in storm shutters. These aluminum shutters protect glass from high winds and blowing debris. Storm shutters are available in several different types.  
  • Colonial: shutters are hinged on the side, fold into the window and lock into place.
  • Rolling: shutters roll down either manually or electrically from the top of the window opening (similar to a garage door).
  • Accordian: shutters consist of folding interlocking slats that move vertically on a track to cover your window opening.


Shutter Hardware

To enhance the look of your wooden or composite shutters, many homeowners add shutter hardware. This hardware has evolved over the years into stylish accessories for your shutters. Hardware is now available in many styles and finishes.

  • Shutter dogs - This type of hardware keeps the shutters open and attached to your house
  • Ring pulls - Pulls that allow you to close the shutters from inside your home
  • Slidebolts - Bolts that lock your shutters when they are closed


Interior Shutters

Interior shutters are becoming more popular with homeowners across the country. Wooden plantation shutters with working louvers serve as interior window treatments that allow you to control both light and privacy. This type of shutter can be painted or stained and used on almost any type of window or door. A few of the benefits of wooden plantation shutters are that they require virtually no maintenance, they enhance your home's resale value, consist of a one time investment, and the insulation and reflecting properties of shutters help conserve heating and cooling costs. Faux wood interior shutters are also available from different manufacturers across the country.

Salvaged Shutters

Many homeowners are finding clever ways of using old shutters that can be found at salvage yards. One idea is to create a room divider or screen by taking several shutters and installing small hinges that enable the shutters to fold and be freestanding. Most of these shutters will require scraping and painting to improve their appearance. One way to accomplish this is to have a furniture refinishing company dip the shutters in a stripping solution that will remove all previous paint and/or stain. This saves lots of time and effort to provide a surface suitable for repainting or staining.

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