Victorian Homes – August 2011

Should You Shutter?
By: Erika Kotite

Outside shutters make a tremendous difference in the look of your house, but are they right for your home’s style? The answer depends on where you live and, literally who built your house. “There are so many rules and exceptions to the rules that most of the time we can’t tell,” says Rick Skidmore, president of Timberlane. So really, the matter comes down to what you should look for to make sure the shutters will present a substantial and well proportioned face to the world. Here are some considerations:Custom or Stock: Standard shutters usually come in various sizes, usually with four-inch increments. This means they will either be too long or too short for your window’s width. “Visualize the shutters closed,” say Skidmore. “They should meet perfectly in the middle.”

Material and Construction:
Vinyl shutters are clean and low maintenance, but they offer a lighter, more one-dimensional look. Pine and other light woods are more affordable but don’t hold up as well under extreme conditions. Look for strong, rot-resistant woods such as cedar. Also, lower-end shutters are stapled or screwed at the joints. A better choice is a frame with a mortise and tenon construction as it will maintain its shape and not pull and distort over time.

Many homes have shutters that are simply nailed to the wall, giving only an illusion of functionality. Most shutters are simply decorative, but using real hinges and closures does offer a more authentic look. A word of warning: Most contractors have little or no experience installing exterior shutters. Skidmore advises finding a good trim carpenter, or someone who is an expert at hanging doors. (Shutter installation is very similar to hanging doors.) Also, the company who makes the shutters may have technical support staff to walk your contractor through the project.

Back to Newsroom