Shutters - all you need to know
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a good deflector of heat in summer but equally good at retaining heat inside during window. Strong but lightweight and non-corrosive so you can install aluminium shutters to the exterior of your home.
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 the best option for exterior shutters.
- Wood shutters suit all other areas of the home; not suitable for outdoors or damp areas because they will absorb water.
General features of shutters
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.
Frequently asked questions
PVC shutters are ideal in rooms with high humidity like bathrooms or kitchens. They’re durable, easy to clean, and come in a range of colours for an affordable option.
Vinyl and PVC are actually the same material so there is no difference! While most New Zealand companies refer to them as PVC shutters, some other places around the world use the term vinyl shutters. But rest assured, they are the same material.
Both PVC and wood are great options for shutters, but wooden ones tend to be higher maintenance. It might be worth it to have the warmth of real timber, but if you’re looking for a durable, low-maintenance option, you’ll likely prefer PVC.
Both PVC and aluminium are durable options for beautiful shutters. The main difference between them is that PVC usually comes in faux-wood styles that simulate the look of wooden shutters while being more durable and lightweight than real timber. Aluminium comes in a range of finishes and colours as well but is more common for sleek styles. Whether aluminium or PVC shutters are better is really up to your personal style.
Aluminium does not absorb any water or humidity and is also completely fireproof, making it a great option for shutters in bathrooms and kitchens. However, they won’t keep water out of your home during rain!
Aluminium shutters can be wiped down regularly with a damp rag to get rid of dust and debris. For tougher spots or build-up, you can use warm water and a gentle detergent. Make sure to wipe off any excess water with a dry rag.
When it comes to choosing wood or faux wood for your shutters, deciding which is better is all about your priorities. Wood shutters are definitely a beautiful look, but they do come with some extra care and maintenance to keep them in top shape. Faux wood shutters offer a similar look at a more affordable price point, and they are less hassle to care for over time – but faux wood won’t quite live up to the look of real wood.
Wooden shutters are often referred to as plantation shutters. While wood is the traditional material for plantation shutters, they can also be made from PVC or aluminium.
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