About a year ago, Lori and Eric May gave their bland, 20-something house a major new look.
The exterior makeover of their two-story house in Marietta’s West Hampton neighborhood included new windows, trim and a reworked front porch. The brick was painted (silver sage), and the vinyl shutters were replaced with louvered wood shutters.
For the Mays, the simple changes, such as new shutters, made a big difference.
“We changed the style of our shutters to add more texture and interest,” said Lori, an interior designer and blogger in the Atlanta-metro area. “We chose a traditional style with a slightly unusual paint color to give it a clean, updated look.”
Historically, shutters served a purpose. They offered light control, ventilation and protection from the elements. Shutters also offered privacy and security. Today, exterior shutters are mostly decorative.
“Exterior shutters add the finishing touch to a house,” said Ross Piper, an Atlanta-area architect. “But they should be operable, appropriately sized and look like they are supposed to be there.”
Whether you are adding or replacing shutters to add curb appeal or as part of a remodel, consider these tips from Piper, Timberlane and Southern Shutter Company.
Bermuda Shutter: A sleek-looking shutter used primarily in coastal states for sun screening and moderate storm protection. It also works on contemporary styled homes. Bermuda shutters are hinged on top rather than the sides and typically open from the bottom to the top.
Board and batten. A shutter often composed of three to five vertical boards that are connected using two to three horizontal boards at the top, bottom and sometimes the middle. These shutters inspire a country or cottage look and have grown in popularity in the last few years on new and remodeled homes.
Louvered. The shutter consists of a frame with many smaller slats – either operable or fixed — within the frame. Movable louvered shutters, used on historic homes, have slats that move up and down. Fixed louvered shutters are the most popular of all exterior shutters because they work with many architectural styles.
Paneled. A raised panel shutter is made up of a flat panel with smaller panels of different shapes and sizes carved into its surface. There is also a flat panel shutter and combinations of raised paneled and louvered shutters. Paneled shutters can have decorative cutouts to further personalize a home.
Wood. Western red cedar is a popular choice but there are other woods, including Spanish cedar and cypress. Wood provides a high-end look that other materials like to mimic. The drawback of wood shutters is that they tend to be more expensive. They also need maintenance, especially in areas where the shutters are exposed to sun.
Composite. A combination of hardwood and PVC or fiberglass, composite shutters look and feel like real wood without the maintenance. They can cost more or be about the same price as wood.
Vinyl/Synthetic. Can have the look of wood (especially from the road) without the upkeep. It can be the least expensive shutter material, but depending the style, PVC/fiberglass or plastic shutters can be more expensive than some wood. Colors and sizes are limited.
What to consider
Sizing. Whatever style you choose, correctly sizing the shutter to your window is critical. Since windows are not created equal, measure each window separately. Whether your shutters will be functional or not, size them as if they would close. Architects, like Piper, recommend installing operable models for authenticity.
Hardware. Traditionally, shutters were attached to the window frames with hinges. Today, hardware plays an important role in the appearance of your shutters. There are a variety of hinges and tieback styles to choose. You also may want to add bolts, pull rings and latches. The hardware (often power coated black stainless steel) used to hold the shutter in an open position is sometimes called a stay, tieback or dog. Styles range from the popular “S” hooks to flowers, shells and propeller designs.
If “real” hardware and operable shutters are not in your budget, add decorative hardware, such as the S tieback, to get the look.
Cutouts: Decorative cutouts offer the ability to further customize your shutters. Cutouts are usually on the top panel. There are more than 100 standard designs. Many homeowners also create their own pattern.
Paint. Finish the front and back of shutters with a high-quality primer and paint.
Installation. Whether you or a pro handles the installation of your shutters, be sure there is a suitable mounting surface and that the window frames are in good shape. Installation prices are in addition to the price of shutters and hardware.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Not all windows on a house need shutters. Install shutters only where it is logical.
- If you plan to replace your shutters, do some homework. Most manufacturers have online galleries that show various designs and options for houses with different architectural styles. Also drive around and look at shutters on homes.
- If you need to replace one or two shutters, many shutter companies can match your exiting shutters so you don’t have to replace all of them.
“The most significant trend in the last few years is the growing popularity of shutters in outdoor spaces, such as porches,” said Leigh Denham of Alabama-based Southern Shutter Co.
Other trends: As homeowners remodel, they are removing the nailed-to-the-siding- shutters and adding new shutter hardware (and often new shutters) to instantly enhance the style of their shutters and the look of their home.
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