Window shutters – everything you need to know about this timeless window covering

This window treatment will transform the look and feel of your room
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  • Chic, sophisticated and oh so stylish, shutters give you everything you’d wish for in a window treatment. They’re practical – providing light, privacy and reduced noise without compromising on security (you can add locks for extra confidence) – as well as low-maintenance, requiring nothing more than a wipe-down to keep them looking their best.

    Types of shutters – what are my options?

    There are a number of shutter styles to choose from, and which you finally opt for is often down to a mixture of which design detail best reflects your personal style and what you want your shutters to achieve for any given room.

    Related: Crittall windows – everything you need to know about steel frames

    window shutters

    Image credit: Chris Snook

    Café-style shutters

    These are hung only on the bottom half of the window and are more cost effective (as they only cover half the window). They are ideal if you live at street level and need privacy, but still want to allow light in, but no good if you ever want to black out the room completely.

    Tier-on-tier shutters

    Also known as double-hung shutters these are the most versatile shutters you can opt for, with two sets hung one above the other, working independently. This gives great flexibility as you can have the top open and the bottom shut, or vice versa, and both sets can be open or shut too. The only disadvantage is that they can look a bit fussy on some types of windows.

    Full-height shutters

    These are best for taller windows. There is usually a dividing rail either halfway up, or at a natural break in the window (i.e. at the level of the sash). This makes taller shutters more sturdy and enables the louvres in the top and bottom half to move independently, so you could open the top set to let in light but keep the bottom shut for privacy.

    Solid shutters

    This shutter types gives a clean look and comes with various centre panels such as raised, moulded and Shaker styles. Solid-based shutters are a combination of louvre panel at the top and solid panel at the bottom.

    Bathroom shutters — what should I look for?

    window shutters

    Image credit: Jason Ingram

    Unlike fabric blinds which can get damp and mildeweed in steamy bathrooms, shutters allow extra ventilation with their louvred slats, so they’ll dry more quickly. They’re also easier to wipe down and keep clean.

    While painted wood or MDF shutters are fine in well-ventilated bathrooms, for rooms with high humidity, moisture-resistant shutters are more practical. Made of ABS plastic, polymer or polyvinyl, they are waterproof, so the slats won’t rot or warp.

    Plantation shutters – how to measure for them

    Jason Peterkin, director at 247 Blinds, gives his step-by-step guide on how to measure for plantation shutters and offers his top tips.

    ‘There are two types of frames for you to choose from; L frames and Z frames. The L frame will allow you to position your frame anywhere in your recess, at the back leaving you with lots of window sill space or at the front of your window allowing the panels to close flat against side walls,’ says Jason.

    ‘On the other hand, the Z frame is positioned at the edge of the recess and creates a traditional style architrave outside of the recess.’

    Measure the width

    Measure the width inside the recess three times, at the top, middle and bottom. Choose the smallest size from these three measurements and deduct 5mm.

    Measure the height

    Then measure the height inside the recess three times at the Left, Right and Middle, again choosing the smallest size and deducting 5mm.

    Measure across the recess

    You’ll then need to measure diagonally across the recess in both directions.

    Note: if the recess is more than 15mm out of square, you may want to choose the Z frame as this will require less remedial work.

    Where to buy shutters for windows

    There are a number of companies that stock shutters including Luxaflex, Eclectics, Oakhurst, Velux, The New England Shutter Company, Hillarys and John Lewis & Partners. Shutterly Fabulous will also colour match or stain shutters to Farrow & Ball, Dulux and RAL paint colours.

    You can also source antique shutters, such as French shutters, at salvage companies such as English Salvage.

    The traditional method of opening and closing louvres is with a rod on the outside of the shutter, but many companies now offer designs that feature hidden mechanisms or even remote-controlled shutters (good for hard-to-reach windows) for a contemporary finish including The Great Shutter Company.

    Are shutters expensive?

    window shutters

    Image credit: Nick Pope

    Most shutters are made-to-measure and installed by the company itself, but if your budget is limited contact The California Shutter & Blind Company who will take measurements and produce shutters that you can then install yourself, substantially reducing the overall cost.

    You can also cut costs by opting for other DIY shutter options. These are made to size and delivered pre-drilled, pre-mitred and ready to fit yourselves. You can snap these up at companies including 24-7 Blinds, B&Q and Blinds2Go.

    Are shutters better than blinds?

    The easy-to-adjust slats allow greater control than with a regular blind. By tilting the slats up and down you can vary how much light comes in, with the angle of the slats obscuring the view from the outside. Shutting slats completely will give total privacy or they can be opened fully to let maximum light in.

    Shutter effect blinds could also give you the best of both worlds. They come in at a reasonable price point, can be easily installed and look almost as eye-catching as the real thing.

    Related: How to hang curtains beautifully – whether in a tricky bay window or a simple setting

    Are window shutters the right option for you?

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