An Age-old Classic with a Modern Touch
(Originally published in Drapery & Window Coverings Magazine)

Interior window shutters have always been one of the most universally popular window treatments available. They maintain their value better than any other type of window covering. Window shutters -- also called plantation shutters -- are not only attractive and enhance your home's curb appeal, but their ability to regulate light, insulate, and fit in to almost any decorating scheme makes window shutters virtually unsurpassed.

Today, indoor shutters are more popular than ever. So it is no wonder that many new manufacturers are trying to grab a piece of the shutter business. Most notably is the introduction of vinyl compound shutters. There are some intriguing advantages over traditional wooden shutters. But beware; many of them are just cheap shutters at a cheap price. There are numerous differences among the major brands. This article will help you decide whether interior wood shutters or vinyl shutters are right for you, and inform you of the critical differences.

Wood Shutters Are the Real Thing

There are several reasons why you should avoid vinyl shutters altogether. Some people simply prefer real wood, just as they prefer clothing made of cotton or wool instead of synthetics. For a warm, authentic, traditional look, wooden shutters are an excellent choice. There are some limitations of vinyl window shutters. They are usually made in only white and off-white. So you can not precisely color match. Staining is obviously impossible. There are currently no manufacturers that make vinyl shutters for arched, angled, and other specialty shaped windows. Most interior vinyl shutters are cheaply made with inferior components and poor workmanship, and should be avoided simply for that reason despite their lower cost.

A Vote for Vinyl Shutters

Quality vinyl shutters are definitely worth considering. The inherent advantages over wood shutters are numerous. The best indoor vinyl shutters cost less than custom wooden window shutters. The most important advantages are practical in nature. Vinyl interior shutters will not crack, peel, fade, or deteriorate like wood. They are perfect for humid areas like solariums, shower enclosures, near Jacuzzis and sinks. Since they are moisture resistant they are an excellent choice near the swimming pool or even the ocean's corrosive saltwater. They are inherently flame-retardant and insulate better than indoor wood shutters. They are easier to clean and those, which are solid color impregnated, will not show dents or scratches. That makes them perfect for a child's room. Their manufacturing time is usually half of a true custom wooden shutter.

How to Choose Vinyl Shutters

    • Look for these important features when comparing the different brands:

    • Aluminum reinforcements throughout all major stress points, especially on the hinge side of all panels to prevent warping and "vinyl creep."

    • Cellular (hollow) louvers, to maximize insulation (hollow louvers insulate better than solid louvers due to the air).

    • Ability to adjust the tension of louvers to prevent floppy louvers.

    • Made from a high quality outdoor grade compound for durability.

    • Opaque louvers and rails. Some are translucent, which makes them appear less like wood, and allows too much light to escape into the room.

    • Thick wall structures for strength.

    • A choice of frames.

    • Solid tilt bar mechanism for easy and long-lasting use. (This is VERY important!)

    • Multiple louver sizes ( at least 2-3/8" and 3-3/8").

    • Uniform rail sizes for aesthetic consistency.

    • Louvers close up or down for infinite control of light and view.

    • Heavy-duty 3 leaf hinges to prevent wobbly, sagging shutter panels.

    • No unsightly notches on frame.

    • Lifetime warranty.

Whether you choose interior wooden shutters or vinyl shutters, you are likely to be extremely satisfied with their function, beauty, and the way they increase your home's resale value. With such a disparity of quality among different brands, be sure you have done your homework to make sure you select the right one for your maximum enjoyment.