Here we have put together some questions frequently asked by customers when choosing shutters:
- What are Plantation Shutters?
- What are solid shutters?
- Can I fit the shutters myself?
- Can shutters be installed on any window?
- How do I measure my windows and doors?
- How many shutter panels do I need in my window opening?
- I feel shutters may be expensive, how do you justify the price?
- What louvre size should I choose?
- How long from order will it take to get my shutters?
- What wood do you use and is it eco-friendly?
- Does wood warp, shrink, change colour or age in any way?
- What colours and stains are available?
- How can I maintain my shutters?
- What are the benefits of shutters?
What are Plantation Shutters?
Plantation shutters for windows are louvred panels fixed either inside or outside windows and doors. They originated in America and the West Indies and date back to before the American Civil War. They enable you to control light and privacy for your room.
What are solid shutters?
These are panels that have no louvers. They were originally installed in reveal boxes in pre-Edwardian houses and were used a couple of times a year only, when the owners de-camped for the season. They were not designed to be opened and shut daily like our present designs and that is why so few remain today.
Can I fit the shutters myself?
Can shutters be installed on any window?
Shutters can be installed on virtually any window, French door or sliding patio doors. They can also be used effectively as room dividers fitted on tracks. If the window/door opens inwards they can always be mounted outside of the reveal. Bi-pass tracking allows for shutters to slide past each other and is used where there are overhangs preventing the panels from swinging out.
How do I measure my windows and doors?
How many shutter panels do I need in my window opening?
Our smallest panel width is 200mm and the widest is 750mm. With larger louver panels we do sometimes go wider, but void the warp warranty with your permission. Generally a window looks best with 4 panels, two opening as pairs either way. A 3 window bay, however, will usually have 2 panels on the smaller side windows and 4 in the centre. All panels will open away from the middle.
Each window is different and we can advise you of what will work best for you.
There are as many exceptions as there are norms. For instance, a long window with 3 panes of glass, i.e. 1800mm wide x 1000mm high, would have 6 panels – three folding either way, or if you are only going to open them to clean the windows you could easily have just 3 panels. The Americans never open the shutters, only the louvers, so they design with large panels.
A lot of the time you will have to consider where the panels are going to fold back to and if there is enough room for this to happen. This is also true where you are fitting inside the reveal next to the window and you will not want the shutters, when open, to protrude into the room too much.
For partitioning or for large windows where tracking is needed at the top to suspend the panels, you will really need an even number of panels or they will look odd and not hang from the track properly. Ideally 8 panels or 12 panels for very large openings is best, although quite often it is wise to hang even 6 panels from tracking if they are quite large. With the heavier Seattle MDF shutter this is clearly an option to be considered.
In summary, the window will normally dictate the number of panels. If the window is split into two halves you would either have 2 or 4 panels and it follows that if it is three panes, then three or six panels will suffice. The vertical dividers of the windows are where the vertical stiles of the shutters should ideally be located.
I feel shutters may be expensive, how do you justify the price?
Shutters are now a lot more affordable, especially with our Seattle and Boston ranges.
A shutter panel may look like a door or kitchen unit panel but it has to live in a totally different environment. Normally a shutter panel fixed inside a window will have to endure some quite extreme variations in heat and humidity. Quite often it may have a radiator underneath it too.
The Vancouver range is made of Western Red Cedar. The timber is so durable and stable it can be left outside untreated due to its resin content. We don’t have to laminate these shutters to prevent warping as Cedar has a relatively straight grain and is very stable. The Phoenix range is made from Phoenix timber, sometimes called Parasol. It is a very light hardwood and has a laminated core similar to the Seattle range. The timber goes through many processes before it becomes a shutter. Our engineered Seattle Range is made from a composite of many materials and is totally maintenance free, whilst our Cedar shutters may need repainting in 10 to 15 years time. The Bathroom shutter is made of ABS and stiffened with a Cedar core.
All but the Vancouver range are laminated in some way in construction, this is actually more expensive to make than solid timbers. We do this to make a better product. We can only sell Cedar for these prices because although the wood is relatively expensive, it is also the cheapest to make in labour and machinery terms. (Cedar is considered the very best timber for shutters as it has some unique properties, although with laminating technologies other materials can produce quite different looking shutters of similar quality.)
Old furniture has some of its appeal in the warped and split aged look but we don’t think you would want your shutters to do this, especially after the guarantee has run out.
Apart from our oiled Vancouver range all the other finishes are carefully developed to be UV resistant and long lasting. They look almost too perfect when we install them but tone down very quickly and gain character. The Cedar finishes may darken slightly. We don’t use regular domestic paint, if we did you would have to repaint/varnish your shutters every couple of years. These materials inevitably cost more.
What louvre size should I choose?
When making your louvre choice, consider the size of the window and the desired effect. Generally larger windows command a larger louvre size.
The larger the louvre the more light, but the less privacy.
In the USA most shutters are made with 3.5 (89mm) louvres or (114.3) but here in Europe we tend to generally choose smaller louvres such as 47mm or 64mm. 32mm (available in the Vancouver Cedar range only) – can be used in bathrooms and also looks good when painted white and used on café style installations in living room windows where the street maybe very close by.
How long from order will it take to get my shutters?
What wood do you use and is it eco-friendly?
The Cedar wood Range is made from Western Red Cedar. The timber is very durable and has a most interesting grain. It is very expensive timber but does not need to be laminated to retain stability.
We buy our Cedar from The Western Red Cedar Association in Canada. It is either replanted Cedar or taken from designated forest areas where it is a managed forest. Cedar is one of the most used timbers in the world. In the USA a lot of houses are built entirely of Cedar and it is used extensively for roofing shingles and decking because, although a softwood, it is amazingly long-lasting and resistant to wet and rot. As a result it is farmed in very well managed forests. (It is also the national tree of Lebanon and on their flag, however I don’t think they use it for shutters.
The Phoenix Range is made from a laminated constructed Phoenix wood, sometimes called Parasol. It grows in sub-tropical areas of the southern states of the USA, China and Japan. It is a very fast growing tree reaching full height in about 15 years. Ideal for farming.
It is a hardwood but very light. We treat it with a special secret process to make it that light but it still has a very hard skin. It weighs in at almost the same as Cedar, making it ideal for shutters where the lighter the better generally applies.
It has an interesting story in that it is written in ancient Chinese history, that the most famous musician of the time lost his beautiful house in a terrible fire. In the ashes though was his harp-like instrument that had survived, although it lost its horns, and now the national instrument of China is the Zither, designed by fire 3000 years ago. It is said that the Phoenix bird only will nest in a Phoenix tree and eat the berries from it. This is because it is the slowest burning wood on the planet, as it needs a secondary heat source to burn. In Japan it is believed that it has mystical properties.
The MDF Range is our most eco-friendly product because no trees at all have been cut down to make this product. Made from a laminated veneered lumber core (Basswood or other strong frame materials strips that are off-cuts not usable elsewhere, laminated together with epoxy making a light, strong core), with LDF laid bulk and polymer sealed outer coating.
Does wood warp, shrink, change colour or age in any way?
Cedar can warp in very rare occurrences, like any wood, but is less prone to do so than virtually any other timber we know of. We do give you a guarantee though against significant warping. Similarly, Cedar can shrink and does, but very little and we always advise fitting tight in the first instance. Shutters can quite easily be adjusted should this occur as it is never that much but it is probably better to leave them as they can just as easily swell again should the humidity increase.
Wood is a natural material and with its inconsistencies it delivers pleasure. We do make perfect shutters because the market today expects perfect manufacture. Rustic looks are because the products are made in rustic environments with basic tools and little technology, or badly/cheaply made or specifically finished to look that way. If you want an aged look then you can add it later, order it specially or just wait until it happens naturally. In fact within a week or two they develop a more lived-in look and your decor adds character by proxy too.
What colours and stains are available?
View the colours section of this site for a full list of painted finishes and stains that are available for each shutter range.
How can I maintain my shutters?
Shutters are easily cleaned using a feather duster, damp sponge/soft cloth or by running a vacuum cleaner over them. The finish shouldn’t need repainting for many years, indeed the Seattle MDF shutters are totally maintenance free and cannot be repainted anyway.
What are the benefits of shutters?
Shutters have long been the window treatment of choice because they are incredibly functional and can provide great kerb appeal. Shutters with adjustable louvers offer so much more in terms of privacy, insulation, ventilation and light control than most other solutions. What’s more, they are low maintenance and unlike curtains won’t harbour dust – so good for allergy sufferers too!