A purchase of plantation shutters can be daunting. These essential tips will help you decide what plantation shutter is best for your application. The recomendations made are based on years of experience building, finishing, and selling plantation shutters. The advice given includes both the what and the why. Each of the topics are decisions that will need to be made before purchasing plantation shutters. The advice is free, so take a moment to review the suggestions.
1. Louver Size
Plantation shutter louvers are generally offered in multiple sizes. The smallest available louver is 1-7/8” and the biggest is 5-1/2”. The most popular sizes are 2-1/2”, 3”, and 3-1/2”.
Advice – Select the 3-1/2” louver. Reserve the smallest louvers for small windows, and the biggest louvers for very large openings. If the window depth cannot accommodate the 3-1/2” louver, scale down to a 3” or 2-1/2” louver. Louver spacing is greater as louver size increases, providing the maximum light and visibility through the plantation shutter louvers.
2. Louver Profile
Plantation shutter louvers are available in both a flat and elliptical profiles.
Advice – Request plantation shutters with an elliptical louver. Elliptical louvers resist sagging, while flat plantation shutter louvers are susceptible to distortion in wide lengths.
3. Louver Tension
The primary functions of plantation shutter louvers are to provide light and visibility when open then privacy and darkness when closed. Louvers that do not hold in position cannot perform their primary tasks. A myriad of shutter construction techniques are used by manufactures to control louver rotation. One of the most common methods utilizes a screw that inserts through the side of the plantation shutter panel into the edge of one louver. For less tension the screw is loosened. The screw can then be tightened for greater tension when the louvers automatically relax to the downward position.
Advice – A split nylon pin connecting the louver to the side stile keeps uniform tension inside the side stile hole. The tension never changes and maintenance is unnecessary.
4. Trendy or Timeless
The design of plantation shutters has an enduring quality that has survive decades and will continue well into the future. Modifications to that base design have come and gone. The hidden tilt bar is a prime example of a trend conceived to differentiate in a competitive market.
Advice – Stick to the timeless traditional plantation shutter design.
5. Vertical Configuration
Plantation shutters can be vertically constructed in multiple configurations to fit a window, including single-tier, single-tier with a divider rail, double-tier, and café type.
Advice – Order full height panels with the least number of divisions possible. Incorporating a horizontal divider rail within the panels may be tempting, but it generally only adds more division and does not increase light control. Unless a window is extremely tall, double tier shutters often add additional unnecessary division. Café type shutters have a distinction all their own, but have do not have the ability to fully control incoming light.
6. Horizontal Configuration
The number of panels across within a plantation shutter unit depends on the width of the opening, the minimum and maximum allowable panel size, and the personal decision of the homeowner.
Advice –Homeowners often discover rotation of the louvers for light and visibility is more effective than swinging the panels open against the wall. The wide-louver plantation shutter enables homeowners to achieve an outstanding panorama through the louvers. For this reason, select the fewest possible of panels across. In windows with existing vertical divisions, it may be more important to align the plantation shutter unit with the existing divisions within the window.
7. Paint or Stain Color
The color of finished plantation shutters must be similar to the interior of the home. Colors that are inconsistent with the décor can be instantly detected. Poly, synthetic, or faux plantation shutters are usually offered in three or four shades of white, and they cannot be stained. Some companies that sell wood plantation shutters only offer a limited number of colors.
Advice – Make a color selection from a large pallet of standard colors. Unique colors may require a custom paint or stain match. Also note that paint and stain finish qualities vary greatly within the industry. The surface should be smooth and the finish should be thick. Dark colors absorb heat, while light colors reflect light increasing their ability to insulate the home.
8. Construction Material
Plantation shutters are offered in a variety of materials. Wood is the traditional and most commonly used for manufacturing plantation shutters. Synthetic (plastic, poly, vinyl, PVC, faux) plantation shutters have become available. Composite plantation shutters combine wood and a synthetic to create the final product.
Advice – Heirloom quality furniture is constructed from wood, and so should plantation shutters. Ensure the construction is from a straight, solid, kiln-dried, light weight, high-quality hardwood. Basswood is believed by many to be the top-choice lumber. Faux plantation shutters can be used for garage or low traffic area applications because they are typically around 20% less expensive. But, because of their plastic-like look and feel they are a secondary option.
Contrary to soft window coverings, like curtains, plantation shutters have a ridged width and height.
Advice – Insist on plantation shutters that are custom made to the 1/16” for each individual window. This insures the best possible fit within the window opening. Custom plantation shutters also will most likely have rabbeted stiles and mortised hinges to minimize light gaps.
10. Installation Method
Plantation shutters can be installed inside or outside of a window opening. Most homeowners leave the installation technique to the discretion of the salesperson.
Advice – Opt to install plantation shutters inside of the window opening. Butt hinges can attach directly to a wood window jamb. Drywall openings require an additional hidden hang strip for additional support. Shallow window require mounting with a frame or hang strip that attaches just to the outside of the window opening. Plantation shutters installed to the inside of the window with side hang strips or outside of the window opening with exposed L-shaped hinges is cheating and looks cheap.
11. Tilt bar (Bonus)
At tilt bar extends vertically down the center of a plantation shutter panel. The tilt bar connects to each horizontal louver unifying rotation of the group.
Advice – Long staples machine injected with hot glue seem to be the best overall option. The staples are incredibly difficult to pull out, even with a pair of pliers. The worst system employs a long metal vein slotted the length of the tilt bar with hooks that extend to each louver.