Choosing the right shutters for your home.
Materials used to manufacture plantation shutter.
How your plantation shutters are manufactured speaks to the quality and price of your plantation shutters. Exciting Windows by Verticals, etc. directly services Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire and offers the following plantation shutter styles:
Hollow Vinyl Shutters, (Hunter Douglas's Palm Beach brand) are a good choice for extremely moist environments, like the window in a shower. These shutters are made from a poly-satin vinyl material and have an internal aluminum frame. These are a good budget choice, but are not as attractive as a painted surface. The tool marks from the extrusion of the vinyl material show on the face of the shutters. Some limitations will apply as to the width and height these shutters can be made in.
Painted Solid Vinyl Shutters (San Benito, Danmer) are sometimes made with aluminum reinforcements to add stability. Due to the painted surface, these shutters are attractive, and will appear to be made from real wood. The edges of the louvers, and the ˜mouse hole" at the top of the shutter are usually rough; this is the tell tale sign that the shutters are made from vinyl. Another good choice from a budget stand-point; but be careful of the dimensions of these shutters. The heavy weight of the material combined with the lack of structural strength will cause these shutters to sag, and scrape the window sill.
Vinyl encased laminated or faux wood shutters (Shutter Productions, Lafayette Marquis, Hunter Douglas New Style) are the lowest cost shutters available. But, the structural limitations similar to the vinyl shutters above, and the fact that moisture can cause the wood core to swell causing the vinyl to crack on the surface are indications of the lower value of this choice. Be careful in choosing these shutters in very moist environments especially near the ocean or other bodies of water.
Solid basswood or poplar shutters (San Benito, Lafayette Shutters, Shutter Productions, Hunter Douglas Heritance, and our own Oceania Basswood Shutters) are the most common wood types available today. Both of these woods are fast growing and fairly soft; therefore economical in the manufacturing process. Neither wood is particularly attractive if a stained wood look is your preference. Both of these woods will have limitations in width of about 28-35" per panel. Due to the lack of density of both woods, the joints of the upright (Stile) and fixed horizontal (Rail) portions of the shutters can show some evidence of failure of the joints. This is less of an issue with the dovetail joint used by Oceania and Heritance. Basically a small black line will form showing a space between the stile and rail. This is inherent in the material and joinery and not considered a defect by the manufacturers.
True hardwoods (Kirtz Shutters by SMI) are considered the best choice for Plantation Shutters. The density of hardwoods allows for the most pleasing design layout for the shutters. Maple shutters can be made as wide as 38-40" and taller than 120". This allows for considerably more light and an improved view through the shutter. Maple is a beautiful surface whether it is painted or stained. Other fine wood choices for stained shutters include cherry, mahogany, fir, alder, knotty pine, walnut, and even more exotic choices such as bubinga, lacewood, teak, incense cedar, purple heart and zebra wood. Basically any wood that is used to make furniture can be used to make plantation shutters. This can allow the look of the millwork in a room to continue to the window treatment.
The design and layout of your shutters.
After choosing the material of the shutters you will also need to determine the louver size, the number of panels within each window, and how they will be mounted. Many people assume they would prefer a smaller 2 1/2" louver until they see a larger louver 3 1/2" or 4 1/2" in their windows. The larger the louver and the larger the panel size allows substantially more light and a much greater view than smaller louvers and panels. And more light can be a very nice feature for the Northern homes of Maine and New Hampshire.
When determining the panel size, consider the window itself. Is the window divided with mullions into individual panes? If so, try to maintain the vertical lines created by the mullions. If there are three panes or lights across the width of the window, then choose either three 2 1/2" louver panels for a more traditional look, or for a more updated design one large panel with 3 1/2" or 4 1/2" louvers. If privacy is important, consider placing a fixed center rail at the mid point in the window which will allow you to close the louvers on the lower half of the panel while leaving the upper louvers open. Normally this will provide privacy to shoulder height and natural light above.
Getting your shutters installed.
Finally, how will the shutters be installed? If there is sufficient depth in the window (2"x6" or thicker walls), then the shutters can be mounted inside the window using one of three mounting methods. The easiest installation method is to use adjustable mounting strips. This is the method recommended by most manufacturers and used by retailers with minimal shutter experience. These mounting strips may be easy to install, but cause a wider gap between the shutter and the jamb at the sides, and may result in sagging of the shutter due to the "L" shaped hinge. The next most common method of installation is to use a frame set into the window surrounding the shutter. This is not as desirable in the North East because windows generally already have wood molding. The last and finest method of installation is to directly mount the shutter to the jamb the way a finish carpenter hangs a door. While this method requires greater experience and skill, the resulting appearance is by far the most pleasing, this is our preferred method of installation.
Call us or use the form on the right to discuss plantation shutters and shutter installation for your Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire home.