Top 10 Things to Know Before Buying A Plantation Shutter
Investing in A Plantation Shutter
10) Louver Size Changes the Entire Look
Knowing what you want the room to feel like when you are done is very important to your plantation shutter selection process. Do you want a contemporary feel, with clean, wide open windows, or are you looking for a traditional feel in the home, with classic double hung shutters? There are thousands of design options and we can guide you through the options, costs, and best sales in the industry.
RON CARTER DESIGN TIP: We like to use the widest 4 1/2″ louver for transitional and contemporary homes. We combine this wide louver with hidden or “Invisible” tilt rods, so all you see is the openness of the large louver, which updates the traditional shutter look and brings it into today’s updated home interior. Here is a link to one of our manufacturers with more info on how to decide which louver size to pick, “Plantation Shutter Sizes”. Also, see my blog, “The Perfect Solution for Window Coverings in 2018” for more tips on plantation shutter design.
LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Why are they called “Plantation Shutters?”
You may hear or see the term “plantation shutters.” Wood shutters are traditionally called plantation shutters 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 depends on the size of the window; larger windows can take larger shutters. Our design consultants can make recommendations for you to consider based on aesthetic and your personal taste. We even have a sample to place in your window with all three sizes in one. You can look through your windows from the street and see the improved curb appeal before you buy. Nothing beats an in-home consultation–and it is free.
9) Installation Matters for Several Reasons
You must have a qualified installer to ensure the shutters are installed in accordance with the manufacture’s requirements, or they might void the warranty. Attention to detail is important when installing wood shutters, so the frames are kept perfectly true and square, to avoid pinched hinges and stress on the shutter panel that can cause warpage.
Remember, the shutter is going to take 100% of the UV rays coming through your window. It has to be tough to being with, but when an inexperienced installer does not take the time to get the frame perfectly level, the shutter will ultimately bend to the new shape, causing cracks, warpage, and damage. You can avoid this and utilize the full warranty by choosing a dealer with factory-certified installers. The cost is negligible when compared to the 25-50 years that your shutter will last, fully covered under the manufacturer’s Lifetime Limited Warranty.
RON CARTER DESIGN TIP: Windows are a major source of heat loss but, they are necessary for light, ventilation, and view. In a typical single-family home, 25% to 35% of the heat is lost through windows. According to a study conducted by the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, a shutter must be properly installed to ensure the air buffer and insulative properties. If properly installed, a wood shutter can reduce heat loss by 75-90% and provide an insulation value (or R-Value) between 4.0 and 10.0.EFFECTIVENESS OF WINDOW TREATMENT IN REDUCING HEAT LOSS
Up to 50% of a home’s heating and cooling escapes through the windows. When compared to the roof or insulated the walls, even standard double pane windows allow 10 times more energy to escape. One of the best ways to reduce your utility bills and save money is to simply cover your windows with plantation shutters. Here is a link to a great booklet from one of our top manufacturers called “Making the Choice for Energy Efficiency.”
8) Small Upgrades make a Big Difference in the Final Look
There are several fairly inexpensive upgrades to the shutter that can provide a big boost in the overall look and feel. These include shutter pulls, shutter locks, and hidden hinges, to name a few. There are images of these upgrades below and they can be added to the shutter for a nominal cost per door of around $25 (hidden hinges are more. They come in a brushed nickel finish that looks great against all of the whites, off-whites and really pops when put on a stained wood shutter. The locks protect the shutter from the kids and those prying hands, while the pulls can even protect the shutter from the unknowing adult who might not know how to properly open the shutter door.
7) Materials Matter in Plantation Shutter Construction
Wood is the most traditional material used in plantation shutter construction, but there are several areas where wood is not the best choice for your shutter. Since it is susceptible to moisture and humidity, we don’t recommend wood shutters (or faux wood) in the bathroom, attic, and garage. There are several options for these areas, including ABS polymer louver shutters, like the very popular “Woodlore Plus” shutter from NORMAN. And finally, the most durable shutter in the world, the “Premium Polyresin 3” shutter from Eclipse.
RON CARTER DESIGN TIP: I like to design with functionality, durability, and classic looks in mind. That is why I really like to put the Eclipse “Polyresin 3” shutter in the garage and attic (infograph link). It is water proof and heat resistant. The shutter can be easily removed and cleaned with warm soapy water to get rid of the bugs that ultimately get on any garage and attic window coverings. They look brand new every time they are cleaned and warrantied for 25 years.
MAIN TYPES OF MATERIALS IN SHUTTERS:
- Polyresin 3® – Aa colorfast compound with UV stabilizers designed with strength and durability, yet retaining a special warmth and feel. Shutters will not warp, shrink, chip, peel, or fade and never need painting.
- Basswood – An American hardwood that is ideal wood for many woodcarvers. Its soft, fine, even texture make it easy to work with, while its pale, inconspicuous color doesn’t detract from the carved patterns of the finished product (which also makes it easier to paint and color). It is stable in service after it has been dried, and though the wood is both lightweight and soft, when put under stress, Basswood will remain stiff.
- Phoenix Wood – A finely grained timber from the tree known as the “Tree of Eternity”, offers rich, consistent wood characteristics and unparalleled resilience. Is also captures more carbon compared to other trees, and regenerates from the stump to be ready for harvest in 7-8 years.
We carry 5 different manufactures of shutters and our free consultation will provide you with the best recommendation of cost, functionality, and cohesive style across all the brands to make sure your investment is protected and looks great for decades.
6) Plantation Shutters can be Motorized
The advancements in motorized window coverings are improving your options exponentially in 2018. There are many reasons why investing in motorized window coverings make sense, including the fact the motors are becoming more reliable, more cost effective, and more efficient, so the batteries last longer on a single charge. My blog, “Top 10 Reasons to Motorize in 2018” walks you through all the factors around motorization in a simple, comprehensive style, so please take a look.
Shutters can also be motorized to tilt open at a certain time of the day (imagine waking up to the automated shutters in your bedroom). And they can also be programed to tilt closed during the heat of the day. This ensures the protection of your fabrics, carpets, and wood floors by blocking the UV rays every singe day. The remote is very simple to program and operate, with one remote that can control all the shutters individually or all at once. You must see this system to believe it, so here is a link to a video about Norman’s “Remote Tilt.”
RON CARTER DESIGN TIP: The PerfectTiltRF remote is a perfect upgrade for your shutters and can even be upgraded with a solar package, to eliminate the need to change the batteries. I recommend this for my clients who have high, hard-to-reach windows (like in the 2-story living room). With the solar recharge upgrade, we can automate the tilt on their shutters, giving them full functionality, and providing a maintenance-free application for years to come. It is a luxury upgrade made simple. I recommend adding the shutter pull upgrade described above to protect the remote Tilt mechanism and complete the total look.
5) Plantation Shutters are Easy to Clean and Great for Allergies
WebMD offers this suggestion in the article, How to Allergy-Proof Your World, “Avoid dust-collecting Venetian blinds or long drapes. Replace old window coverings with shades or shutters.”
Shutters are a great way to help allergy-proof your windows as recommended by this guide, “5 Tips to Allergy-Proof Your Windows.” Wide 4 1/2″ louvers are also a great choice since shutters with large slats that are easy to vacuum and wipe down.
SHUTTER CLEAING GUIDE: Use a clean, dry feather duster, cloth or vacuum with brush attachment to gently remove dust and debris. To ensure through cleaning, wide the louvers or “slats” in the open and closed positions. Do not immerse the product in water or use abrasive chemical solvents. This may cause discoloration and the wood to warp. Ultrasonic cleaning is only recommended on “Premium Polyresin 3” shutters and is not recommend on wood and faux wood plantation shutters. For best results, use a cotton cloth dampened with water on tough dirt and stains. Polyester cloths tend to create static that can attract more dust.
4) Shutters are the Only Window Covering that Actually Stays on the Appraisal
Shutters stay on the appraisal as a hard fixture upgrade to the home.
Custom Shutters and Resale Value
Whether you’re in your home for the long haul or will be looking to move sometime in the future, permanent change should be made with an eye for what will add value to your home, rather than detract. Plantation shutters add to the value of your home because they stay with the house and a “hard fixture update.” Please see the blog entitled, “Four Ways Plantation Shutters Add Value to Your Home,” for more details on the ways shutters can increase your home’s appraisal.
Additionally, according to the article, What Adds Value to Your Home: Inside the Appraisal Process, by Eric Stewart,
“If you’re going to put lots of money into a window treatment, my personal observation is that plantation shutters, very generic blinds, but high quality, will bring you the most money back on that investment.”
3) Know How Much Quality Shutters Will Cost in Your Area
The worst mistake you can make in this process is to decide to invest in wood shutters for your home, only to purchase a low-quality shutter that will not stand the test of time. Plantation Shutters from national manufactures are tested, warrantied, and have stood the test of time for decades. Well known manufacturers like Graber, Norman, Eclipse and Timber all know what it takes to produce a quality shutter. Knowing how much a quality product should cost is also very important.
We have found this “Shutter Cost Calculator” from HomeWyse to be more accurate than most estimates when you Google “How much should Plantation shutters Cost.” You simply enter your zip code and the size of your windows (approximately) and then select the specifics (real wood vs. faux). After that, you hit enter & there is an estimate that is fairly accurate, including local labor costs. The range of cost is accurate enough for a budget plan for your project, but nothing is as good as a free in-home consultation and estimate.
2) The Quality of Shutter Production Varies Dramatically, so Know What you are Getting
Shutters can be made in your home town, in the USA, or overseas. You should know the specifics of what goes into your shutter and how it is made to make the best decision. You should ask what type of joinery the shutter doors are made with (dowels or mortise & tennon). There are also hundreds of wood curing and treatment options that can dramatically change the lifespan of your shutters, or cause them to warp prematurely, so ask how the wood is cured. Finally, the paint and finishing process is critical to keep the shutter looking great for decades.
There are thousands of paint and finish options, but our best manufacturers use a 7-step process with some very impressive coatings like NORMAN’s polypropylene coating, that gives you the durability of a car or appliance finish (see list below). It is a detail that you are only going to know about it if you ask. At Made in the Shade, we pride ourselves in giving our clients all of the facts and letting them decide on the options they want. We also provide prices in a range of options from “good-to-better-to-best.”
The Patented Polypropylene Coating from NORMAN protects, making Woodlore® even more durable and robust
- Better consistency and durability than regular wood shutters
- Better heat resistance than vinyl and PVC shutters
- Won’t fade or yellow with sun exposure
- Does not chip or crack over time
- Never stains; easy to clean
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
#1) The Top Upgrade for Plantation Shutters
Hidden Tilt vs. Invisible Tilt
Hidden tilt rods are the top upgrade for our clients who purchase premium plantation shutters. There are 2 main ways of removing the tilt rod from the shutter door. The first system is called “Hidden Tilt” and it is the most conventional method and it has a steel connector on the street side of the shutter. It is very thin and hardly visible from either side of the shutter (but it is still present). A small screw then attaches to the steel rod and into each shutter slat. When you move one shutter slat, all of the slats open and close.
Below is a picture of a hidden tilt system, which eliminates the need for a room-facing tilt rod. Here is a link to an excellent Blog titled, “Center Tilt Rod vs. Hidden: Which Option is for You?” that explains in detail the advantages and disadvantages of each system.
Hidden tilt rods are the traditional way of removing the front tilt rod and have been around for a very long time. Recently, several vendors have released upgrades to the hidden tilt bar, including Graber.
From Graber Marketing Department:
“Improved Hide-A-Tilt™ Construction. Engineered for maximum quality, our Hide-A-Tilt is more durable than ever thanks to thicker, powder-coat painted steel—available in White and Steel Grey. Also, to ensure tighter louver closure, we reduced the tolerance on the screw holes.”
Invisible Tilt Upgrade for Plantation Wood Shutters
Invisible Tilt is an innovative upgrade that completely hides all rods and moves the louvers with an internal gear. Several companies like NORMAN and Eclipse Shutters have introduced invisible tilt systems that have excellent reliability and provide an updated, more contemporary feel than traditional plantation shutters. We can design custom wood shutters to fit any décor, from craftsman to contemporary.
RON CARTER DEIGN TIP: You must see Invisible Tilt to appreciate the impact it has on the design and aesthetic of the shutters in your home. Here is a link to an entertaining video from NORMAN on the patented “Invisible Tilt.” Additionally, please review my blog “The Perfect Solution for Window Coverings in 2018” for more ideas and information on the importance of these upgrades in the final project. We have a complete line of upgrades, manufactures, and certified installers who can make your home investment an excellent experience, from the budget to the design and finally, the rewarding completed project.
When you decide to buy plantation shutters for your home, you are making an investment that will last. However, it is important to know the options and upgrades available to you so that your project is rewarding and lasts for decades. The shutter purchase is significant, but the improved curb appeal, light control, and increased value for your home are worth it for many of our clients, making Plantation Shutters the #1 upgrade for new and existing homes in the Little Rock area. Call the Plantation shutter experts now at (501) 672-0023 or click on the “Your Free Quote” link to get your consultation. We make amazing windows–Easy & Elegant!