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.