Shutters - all you need to know

Simone Cook
Written by Simone Cook
Russells Consultant
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Shutters are a popular choice for window furnishings. Offering privacy, light control and functional versatility, shutters also bring a timeless, elegant look to your home. If you’re considering shutters for your home, here is an overview of all the different types and things you need to know.

Different types of shutters

Slatted or solid panels

Shutters with solid panels have no blades/slats (has a ‘traditional’ door-like look) and close to block light and be and insulating barrier. Slatted shutters have louvred blades (similar to venetian blinds) you can tilt to let in varying amounts of light while keeping your privacy.

The following styles of shutters can be slatted or solid or a mixture of both in some cases.

Full height

Covers the glass in full. This is the most common and popular style of shutters. For extra variation in light control you can add a mid-rail divider which then means you can adjust the top or bottom sets of blades independently from the other half.

Cafe style

Leaves the top of the window un-shuttered, with shutters only covering the bottom half of the frame. Ideal for ground level windows and town houses.

Tier on tier

A very flexible option; independent panels on the top and bottom give greater adjustability to make the most of light, the view or to provide more privacy. You can open some and leave others closed, as well as the light control mentioned with full height shutters. Consideration should be given to which windows you apply this style too as the top shutters may become too heavy to support themselves on very large windows; in this scenario you would be better to have full height with a mid-rail divider.

Custom shape

Shutters can also be custom-made to fit unusual shaped windows.

Ways they operate

The beauty of shutters is that you can leave them as is and tilt the blades to block or let in light, or you can open them right up and expose the view in full. Depending on your requirements and the amount of space on either side of the shuttered window, they can be operated through a number of configurations:


Hinged at the window frame, shutters can be opened out and away from the window. As the open panels are only supported by this one set of hinges this option is best for small to medium windows.


Panels are installed on tracks to slide across the face of an opening. They can slide as one large panel or as bi-pass sliding panels that stack over top of each other. This option allows you to cover wide widths; a great option for sliding doors.

Bi-fold – hinged and on-track

There are two bi-fold styles, depending on the size of the window. Simple hinged bi-fold shutters that open and fold at the window frame as well as at a 90° angle in the centre of the shutters. This is best for small to medium sized windows. For larger windows you can have the same but with the extra guidance and stability of having the shutters on a track so they can be slid across the window while folded.

Customised opening

Shutters can be designed to separate your windows in two - allowing you to have one open and one closed, a versatility not on offer with curtains and blinds. Depending on where the sun is coming through and how much light you want coming in you can have half the shutter open, the other half closed. As the sun moves during the day you can adjust your shutters to suit. Or they can be fixed and not move at all.

Everything you need to know to make the right choice for your home


What are shutters made of?

Most commonly they are constructed out of wood or plastics but you can also sometimes get them with aluminium blades.


The original material and the most popular. Wood shutters range from premium hardwood to fast grown value woods. Be aware that cheaper products could be made of wood offcuts glued together and laminated for a nice finish as these are much less stable and durable.

Wood composites

MDF and craftwood for example. We don’t recommend these kinds of shutters as they are heavy but not strong and quickly absorb moisture and fall apart. Wood composite shutters would not last as long as even a plastic alternative.


PVC, polymers, Thermalite, etc. These are cheap to produce but not as durable as a good quality wood. Best suited to smaller windows that don’t need opening and closing often. Without a reinforced core, can be heavy and sag or bow.


Aluminium does not absorb any water or humidity and is also completely fireproof, making it a great option for shutters in bathrooms and kitchens. Aluminium is also a very good deflector of heat in summer but equally good at retaining heat during winter.

Colour choices

Because shutters can be made from a variety of materials, they also come in a wide range of painted and stained colours, or can be colour matched to your décor. White or stained wood are the most commonly requested. Luckily, there is no wrong choice as it will ultimately be your taste and the style, and size of the room, that determines the finished look.

What rooms do they work best in?

The versatility of shutters is amazing; they really do work for every room. The one consideration to really focus on is the space and size of the room. Shutters need a clear area around the window frame to be opened, so if you’re dealing with windows hard up against the corner of a wall (for example) they might not be a great idea, or you could opt for fixed non-opening shutters.

  • PVC shutters are best in areas with high humidity and moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.
  • Aluminium shutters are best suited to areas like your bathroom or kitchen, due to their durability and easy maintenance.

  • Wood shutters suit all other areas of the home; not suitable for outdoors or damp areas because they will absorb water.

If insulation is your primary focus and your home needs an extra hand retaining warmth, there’s no reason your shutters couldn’t be paired up with a curtains or roman blinds.

General features of shutters

Stylish finish

Shutters are a classic piece of design that add another dimension to the lines and shapes of a room. They look stunning and create a timeless focal point.

Invaluable light control

The two-way tilt of the blades of a shutter makes them adept at blocking light and providing ultimate privacy.

Help reduce heat gain and loss

In summer they help to deflect heat away. In winter, their snug position against the window lends them insulating properties.

Easy to clean

With no strings, ties or complex mechanisms in the way, shutters are the easiest window covering to clean; just run a damp cloth across them.

Built to last

In comparison to curtains and blinds that can age over time, shutters are designed to last for many years in the right conditions.


Interior shutters need a clear space to the side of the window when they're opened so keep in mind the location of your walls and furniture. They also require hardware that is fastened to the window jams or trim.

Everything you need to know to make the right choice for your home


Frequently asked questions

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