Shutters can add a real touch of class to a home, but if you’ve considered fitting them to yours then you might like to think about the benefits of decorative window shutters too.
If you’ve ever been to the south of France or elsewhere in the Mediterranean then you will have seen that most houses have exterior window shutters – often painted green. These look fantastic, particularly on the big, old houses characteristic of the region. They also serve an important practical function, regulating the homes against extremes of temperature and protecting against storms.
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In the UK and elsewhere further north, window shutters are gaining popularity – chiefly due to their decorative value. Although some people choose to have operational shutters fitted, there is less reason for this in more modern houses, which have better insulation. Consequently, decorative window shutters have become more common. There are several good reasons for this.
Decorative window shutters give your home all the charm of an operational shutter. In fact, there is more flexibility in the case of decorative shutters, since there is no requirement for shutters to close and meet in the middle.
Depending on the proportions of your windows, this is important: whereas houses in France tend to have tall, narrow windows, those here and in other countries often have quite wide windows. Operational shutters fitted to these would be correspondingly wide, giving a very strange impression.
Decorative window shutters look very similar to ‘working’ ones, but they are far cheaper. This is because they are much simpler to make and fit into your home. There are no moving parts and you do not need to anchor hinges for a heavy wooden shutter into the brickwork.
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Another reason for their comparatively low cost is the range of materials that are typically used. Although you can buy wooden window shutters, plastic variants are available – as well as ‘synthetic wood’, a polymer blend that looks and feels like wood but is around third cheaper.
Wooden shutters have to be made from hardwood since softwoods rot very quickly when exposed to the elements. Due to their relative scarcity, hardwoods are quite expensive – especially if sourced responsible, from managed forests.
The maintenance requirements for decorative window shutters are much reduced, especially if they are made from plastic or synthetic wood. In fact, depending on the model they will require no more than the odd clean every few years, and sometimes a repaint.
Wooden shutters, on the other hand, need regular and careful attention to ensure they are protected from the damp and cold. Plastic shutters can last far longer than wooden ones, and can counter-intuitively prove the more environmentally friendly option – particularly if they are made from recycled materials.
Decorative window shutters can be fitted by anyone with a few tools and basic DIY skills. They just require aligning with your windows for home, and holes drilled for the screws or shutter spikes in each corner.
The job can be carried out in a couple of hours, depending on how many shutters you are fitting. Working shutters are far harder to fit and will require specialist skills – something you will almost certainly have to pay for, in addition to the more expensive shutters.
Some plastic shutters will never need repainting – the colour is part of the plastic. Others, like wooden shutters, can be repainted. Whereas for wooden shutters the paint is for waterproofing and protection, with plastic shutters it is purely aesthetic.
The benefits are that decorative shutters are very easy to remove, clean and repaint. This is important if you want to repaint the exterior walls of your home – especially if you want to change the colour of your house. In this case, you may well want to repaint your shutters a different colour too.