Many people ask me all the time: "What kind of material should my exterior shutters be made from?" And I always like to discuss the pros and cons of different materials that they have to offer. these can involve cost, functionality, longevity, and more. Exterior shutters have evolved over time from wood to vinyl, as well as to other alternatives such as fiberglass, PVC, and composites so there are a variety of choices to sort through. This article will discuss the pros and cons of many exterior shutter styles to help you pick out the exterior shutter material that will best meet your needs.
Wood Exterior Shutters: Wood exterior shutters offer many advantages such as the look of wood, functionality, and paintability to match your home. They are medium in the price range compared to some of the alternatives. One of the main advantages to wooden exterior shutters is that they are extremely popular and easy to come by. They can be hinged to the home to give it a more decorative look as well as to provide function. The disadvantage is that they will eventually rot even if maintained. Expansion, sun, and water will eventually cause most wood shutters to begin rotting within about a five year period. To prolong the life of a wooden exterior shutter, try to place in the shade and avoid darker colors which will fuel expansion and deterioration. You should also repaint your wooden exterior shutters every few years to counter cracking and splitting which exposes the shutters to the elements.
Vinyl Exterior Shutters: Vinyl is by far the most affordable choice in shutters. Many vinyl exterior shutters, however, are made from moulds which means they are often only available in set lengths. This can sometimes limit their use on a home with custom sized windows. They are also sometimes referred to as "hollow back shutters" due to their hollow nature. This prevents them from being installed on hinges and requires them to be pinned down in all corners to avoid warping. They are a cost-effective way to add color to a home, however, some home owners do not like the shiny plastic look that accompanies vinyl.
PVC Exterior Shutters: These are an expensive upgrade over vinyl. They are made from solid material, which offers functionality and hingeability. They can also be painted and most cellular PVC materials have a matted finish which gives them the look and feel of wood. They are usually custom built by hand much the same way as you would build a wooden exterior shutter, however, they can easily cost twice as much. They are, however, designed to last a lifetime which means they will not have to be replaced like a wooden shutter alternative. You will, however, have to avoid painting them dark colors, unless they are thermally stabilized with internal rods. Check to make sure that your PVC exterior shutters are thermally stabilized before purchasing them if you plan to paint them dark colors.
Fiberglass Exterior Shutters: Fiberglass is an excellent choice. Although very costly, they are light in weight, forever lasting, and not subject to the same thermal expansion of a PVC shutter. They can also be painted and provide function.
Composite Exterior Shutters: Composite wood shutters are made from recycled cedar wood dust and treated with zinc borate to resist rotting. The average lifespan of a composite wood exterior shutter is about twice that of a regular wooden exterior shutters. The cost, however, tends to be reasonably comparable in price to that of wood and usually much less than that of PVC or Fiberglass. Compared to vinyl, composite wood exterior shutters are more expensive, but offer the look of wood and more customization since they are generally built by hand.
In this era of global warming and climate change, many people are converting their homes into a more energy efficient place. Green building typically means putting more energy efficient appliances in the home, using recycled materials during construction, installing a more sophisticated thermostat, and adding solar powered lighting. However, often overlooked is the source of the climate change problem - the sun.
Using the sun's rays effectively can help to save both energy costs and protect your furniture and carpet from the harmful rays of the sun. A good way to do this is to install functional outside shutters on your home. Functional outside shutters can be closed to keep out the sun's rays in the summer time which will lower your air conditioning costs. In the winter, you can open the external shutters wide to allow the sun to warm your home naturally, which will also make your home more energy efficient.
Many people look at the price of operable outside shutters and the related hardware and they can't see the value of installing something on their windows that costs so much money. However, when you consider that outside shutters do more than make your home more aesthetically appealing and can in fact more than pay for themselves through years of energy savings, you can see that outside shutters really do add value and savings to your home.
Global warming is a reality and unless energy usage in most homes is lowered, climate change is inevitable. You can do your part by making a few improvements to your home such as installing solar powered lights and putting outside shutters on your home's windows.
Of course, in addition to energy efficiency other some other benefits of outside shutters include:
Security - Functional outside shutters can make your home more difficult to break into because they can protect the glass from being easily broken. Also, because they typically latch on the inside, outside shutters make the window opening more difficult to penetrate. Outside shutters can be secured shut whenever you leave town to keep your home safe.
Privacy - Closing your outside shutters can avert your neighbor's prying eyes from penetrating your windows. Whenever you don't feel like having an audience, simply pull your outside shutters closed.
Harsh Weather Protection - If you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, putting the right outside shutters on your home can protect the glass from shattering in high winds. Outside shutters can also help prevent your skylights from the heavy weight of snow in the winter time.
Solar Control - The ability to control the amount of light in the room with outside shutters can not only lower your energy bills, but also make your home a more comfortable place to live and work. Some operable louvered outside shutters work in 2 ways to control the amount of light that enters your home - they can be opened and closed over the entire window just like other outside shutters, but also the louvers can be opened and closed while the shutters are in the closed position using a tilt rod. This changes the angle of the louvers on the outside shutters thus controlling the amount of light that can pass through. In addition to making your home more comfortable, outside shutters can protect your expensive furniture and carpet from the sun's rays, meaning you will need to replace them less often over the years.
Elegance - Operable outside shutters can move your home up a notch in the pecking order of luxury and add a new dimension to your windows that you didn't have before. Installing functional outside shutters adds both to the perceived value and actual value of your home.
Aesthetics - And of course, the most popular reason to install outside shutters is to make your home more beautiful and to add a touch of personal style to its appearance. This can be done with either functional outside shutters or decorative outside shutters. While decorative shutters don't provide the other benefits listed here, they can make your home a more beautiful place and add to its overall value.
When considering outside shutters for your home, it is important to realize that there is more to consider than just the price when determining the bottom line. Through years of use, functional outside shutters can pay for themselves many times over by providing other benefits.