Basswood plantation shutters
fauxwood shutters
Composite shutters
Wood blinds
Fauxwood or durawood blinds
Mini blinds
Vertical blinds
Cellular shades
Woven shades or bamboos
Roman shades
Roller shades
Sheerview shades


Pick up this newspaper section or a home-improvement magazine and you will notice a large number of ads for interior window shutters. Interior shutters are popular because they can let in or keep out light, provide a view to the outside or preserve privacy, and they can improve the look of a room. There has never been a wider selection of materials that go into making shutters. Years ago your material selection was easy: Your one choice was wood. Now you can find interior shutters of wood, MDF (medium density fiberboard), wood fibers blended with PVC (polyvinylchloride,a type of plastic) or totally PVC.

How to choose?

To help you decide, here's some basic information about interior shutters:


First off, interior shutters can have either fixed or movable louvers. These louvers – or slats – are the horizontal pieces. By far the popular choice is the movable lou-vers.

Louvers are connected to a tilt rod, the vertical piece that allows the shutters to rotate open or close. While the tilt rod is occasionally located to one side or the other of the louvers, an overwhelming number of shutters has it located in the middle.

You may hear or see the term "plantation shutters." Plantation shutters are so named because their size and look are often reminiscent of antebellum plantations in the American Southeast. Generally this type of shutter is used on larger windows and has the largest louvers.

Louver sizes usually depend on the size of the window. Larger windows can take larger shutters.

Technically either standard or plantation shutters can be used on any window. However, look closely if you ever see a small window covered by plantation – large-louver – shutters. It will look ungainly.

How large are the plantation louvers? Most will probably measure 3-1/2 inches to 5-1/2 inches in depth. Standard shutters – the smaller ones – will probably measure 2-1/2 inches to 3-1/2 inches.


When my wife and I had our house built nearly 20 years ago, I wanted shutters for the bay window and its two sidelights in my study. I would have liked PVC shutters installed, but they weren't of high quality then. I decided to buy unfinished wood shutters, paint them white, put hinges on and install them.

Trouble was, the bay window was of such size that installing two sets of shutters on each side left a space of about 6 inches.

I would need top- and bottom-row shutters, but the available sizes at the home center were too long by about 6 inches. So I cut a couple of 2-by-4s to length, painted them white, attached them to the interior sides of the large section of the bay and they acted as a partial frame.

Then, to make the shutters fit vertically, I cut off equal amounts from the tops and bottoms of the stiles. I tell you this to illustrate one advantage of wood shutters, especially for the do-it-yourselfer. There's a lot more installation flexibility, including what color or stain you use.

The downside of wood shutters is that they can sometimes warp in constant humidity and they may have to be repainted or restained as time goes by.

Other materials, such as PVC, often try to imitate wood. The better ones succeed, and even include convincing-looking wood grain. But the cheaper brands look that way: cheap.

Surveying all the materials on the market today, I'd have to say I'd go with PVC shutters or those made with a blend of wood fibers, resins and PVC.

 The good ones look great, you'll never have to repaint or re-stain them, and they won't warp. I've seen experienced contractors looking closely – within a foot or so – of top-quality PVC shutters because they couldn't tell if they were polyurethane or wood.


Shutters made of the best-quality materials sometimes don't need tensioning control, to prevent drooping, because their materials are strong enough to keep the tension.

 But with most shutters you want to be able to control louver tensions. As shutters age, louvers can decline to the down position if they don't have proper tensioning. Some shutters have a tensioning screw on one side that can be tightened if the louvers start to droop. This is a good thing to look for.

You're ready now. Start your shopping.

Home improvement columnist
The Orange County Register
Nick's column archive


Home : Services : Products : Contacts : Photo Gallery @2008 All right Reserved