doors, windows, hardware

Window Dressing

Today’s exterior shutters are available in a full spectrum of styles and materials.

Click here for a list of shutter manufacturers

At a recent trade show in Florida, Duncan Lauder, general manager of the Montgomeryville, PA-based shutter manufacturer Timberlane, Inc., was speaking with a manufacturer of wood and fiberglass doors. Placing two of his company’s shutters – one wood and one from the company’s synthetic Endurian line – side by side, Lauder asked the door manufacturer to identify the wood shutter. The door manufacturer got it wrong.

The structural PVC and fiberglass Endurian line is the latest offering from Timberlane, which has been producing wood shutters since 1996. That year, an insurance company executive named Rick Skidmore was in the market for shutters and, becoming frustrated with the selection, saw an opportunity. “He built his own shutters and started knocking on doors in Doylestown, [PA],” says Lauder, “and when the time was right, he made the career transition.” Today, Skidmore is the company’s president and CEO. Along with Endurian shutters in panel, louver, board-and-batten and Bermuda styles, Timberlane offers panel, louver, board-and-batten, Bermuda and combination (panel and louver) shutters in western red cedar, Spanish cedar and Honduras mahogany.

These jet-black fixed-louver shutters from Shuttercraft stand out in contrast to this red-brick house. Photo: courtesy of Shuttercraft, Inc.

“All of our shutters are custom made to order, and we offer 27 styles,” says Lauder. “For example, there are many different types of panel shutters. We have a recessed panel, a raised panel, a Shaker panel and flat panels. The raised panel, what we call our CB1 [Central Bucks], is always one of our most popular. In terms of our louvers, we have one called the WL1, which is our wide-louver shutter and is very popular. We can also custom match a shutter in any style.”

Western red cedar is by far the most popular species used to make Timberlane’s exterior wood shutters. “Spanish cedar and Honduras mahogany are a smaller percentage. People use those in certain specialty applications,” says Lauder. “If you are governed by an historical society, for instance, and the shutters on your house might have originally been mahogany, they may require you to replace with mahogany. Or, a lot of times, people want to stain their shutters. What looks better than stained mahogany? For those willing to pay for mahogany, it’s a nice alternative.”

Timberlane’s line of structural PVC and fiberglass Endurian shutters are designed to replicate the look of traditional wood shutters without the maintenance. Photo: courtesy of Timberlane, Inc.

Timberlane’s wood shutters come primed, while Endurian shutters can be finished in a choice of 18 standard colors or color matched to any custom color. The factory-applied, catalyzed-urethane finish of Endurian shutters – a more durable finish than a standard oil-based paint – comes with a 10-year warranty.

Exclusively Wood
For those purists who believe that nothing can replace the look and feel of real wood shutters, Madison, CT-based Shuttercraft, Inc., is another option. Founded in 1986, Shuttercraft offers a wide selection of exterior shutters in western red cedar and mahogany. According to owner Colleen Murdock, the available styles are nearly endless, and all are made to order. “Our basic types include fixed louver, movable louver, raised panel and board and batten,” she says. “Then there are others that aren’t as common, like a V-groove panel; there are three different louver profiles with the movable louvers and three with the fixed louvers; and there are panel and louver combinations. After 20 years, we still have customers show up with shutter designs we haven’t seen before.”

Traditional raised panels and fixed louvers are Shuttercraft’s best-selling styles. The popularity of raised panels, Murdock notes, is due to a combination of their classic, simple look and the general notion that they’re easier to refinish over the years. The fixed louvers are available with or without false tilt rods, which give the appearance of a movable louver.

These western red cedar combination shutters from Timberlane feature a louver bottom and a raised-panel top with a fleur-de-lis cutout. Photo: courtesy of Timberlane, Inc.

Murdock says that up to a third of Shuttercraft’s business involves matching and replacing existing historic shutters that have gone bad, and, with fluctuations in the housing market, the trend toward restoration is likely to continue. For those looking for a decorative touch, 25 standard cutouts are also available, and custom cutouts can be created to customer specifications.

Full painting services – a prime coat, sanding, two finish coats and a silicone-based sealer across the top edge – are also available. “A lot of our customers get their shutters finished, especially with louvers, as it can be very tricky brushwork,” says Murdock. “We spray them using all latex, water-borne products. Even some painters order them pre-finished and ready to hang.”

Composite Options
Wixom, MI-based Atlantic Premium Shutters (APS) was founded in 1997, originally producing operable, raised-panel, louver and board-and-batten shutters in cellular PVC. In 2002, the company was bought by the Tapco Group, which tweaked the manufacturing process and developed the products available today: the Architectural Collection, which includes panel, louver, combination and Bermuda shutters in an assemblage of fiberglass, composite wood and PVC, and the Classic Collection, which includes panel, louver and board-and-batten shutters entirely in composite wood.

Atlantic Premium Shutters’ composite-wood Classic Collection includes these board-and-batten shutters. Photo: courtesy of Atlantic Premium Shutters

Roan DelVero is the vice president of sales and marketing for APS. “The Architectural Collection is our historically correct, architecturally accurate line of shutters, which are fully functional and fully customizable. The sky is pretty much the limit regarding what we can do there,” he says. “They are made with pultruded fiberglass stiles. In the case of the open-louver shutters, the louvers are fiberglass; in the case of the raised-panel and the combination shutters, we use a combination of PVC in the rails and composite wood for the panel portions, because the composite wood increases the strength of the shutter and provides for a better overall finish than sheets of cellular PVC.

“The all-composite-wood Classic Collection is also a great shutter, but when you’re involved in a situation where architects or historic communities have particular requirements, you have to go with something along the lines of the Architectural Collection.”

With the options available – the company’s shutters are sized to an eighth of an inch by height and width in all styles – DelVero says that APS has manufactured tens of thousands of different shutters. Raised panels and louvers are the company’s biggest sellers, accounting for almost 90 percent of sales, but board-and-batten sales are growing quickly. “It seems as though that will be the style of shutter that will be used the most in contemporary housing designs,” says DelVero.

Every APS shutter is factory painted from a selection of 40 standard colors; custom color matching is also available. Along with a lifetime structural warranty, the Architectural Collection comes with a 15-year finish warranty. The Classic Collection comes with a 10-year structural warranty and a 10-year finish warranty. “When you use materials like fiberglass and composite wood, you have to develop a paint system that is similar to the way a Corvette is painted,” says DelVero. “You literally have to bake the paint onto the material, because it is a closed-cell material. Then you’ve created a truly baked-on shell that allows us to provide the 10- or the 15-year warranty, which is also backed by the paint manufacturer.”

Shuttercraft’s custom-made shutters include board-and-batten styles, shown here surrounding a double window. Photo: courtesy of Shuttercraft, Inc.

Storm Ratings
In light of the severe hurricanes of the past few years, storm ratings are becoming more and more relevant to all shutter manufacturers, particularly for applications along the East Coast and the Caribbean islands. APS recently introduced a line of options – storm bars and polycarbonate panels – that make their collections meet IRC (International Residential Code) and IBC (International Building Code) requirements. “The goal in creating the storm-rated shutters was to keep the same styles that we have offered in both the Architectural and Classic collections without having to modify their true design,” says DelVero. “It allows the customer the option of not incurring the additional cost of storm-rated glass. With hurricane-rated shutters, you’re doing both things at once. You’re having aesthetically pleasing, fully functional, operable shutters that can also serve as fully code-rated hurricane shutters.”

Timberlane offers reinforcing panels that have passed the stringent certification requirements in Dade County, FL. “It’s an opaque panel that can go on the back of any shutter,” says Lauder. “When the shutter is open, it’s up against the wall of the house, so you wouldn’t see it until you close the shutters, and you’re only doing that when the hurricane is coming.”

Shuttercraft can produce rated shutters, but Murdock believes that a lot of the recent focus on storm-rated shutters by insurance companies has been slightly overblown because of recent hurricanes. She recommends impact glass windows, which work all the time and satisfy many insurance companies. “And,” she adds, “you can also still have beautiful wood shutters.”

Click here for a list of shutter manufacturers