In the year and a half since our last report, it is safe to say consumer interest in shutters has remained strong. In fact, wood and faux wood products of all types are among the fastest growing product segments in the industry. A look at this month's product showcase (page 54) will reveal the growing number of suppliers involved in this market as well as the array of products and materials being offered.
Yet shutters stand apart, and reading this month's special shutter supplement ("A Perfect Fit: Shutters in the 21st Century,") you will see that shutters also have developed a duo personality. On the one hand, handcrafted custom wood shutters can be one of the most beautiful furnishings a homeowner can bring into his or her home—one that will increase in value over time. On the other hand, improvements in the quality and style of faux wood shutters—including composite, foam and vinyl-clad products—are opening markets previously closed to shutters while maintaining their superb look, design and functionality. Likewise, there are advocates who say only handwork by trained and seasoned professionals can produce the quality fit and finish of a highly prized shutter, and there are those who embrace modern technology in the fabrication process to make the production of individual custom shutters cost effective.
In either case, however, the outlook for shutters is good, even robust. Across the category, shutter quality, versatility and optional features have come together to create a product that is in demand. Some of our experts say the shutter market in 2002—even in uncertain economic times—will grow at least by five percent and could grow by as much as 15 percent. Those in the know say shutters represent a reinvigorated product category that is introducing a new generation of homeowners to their time-honored appeal. That's all good.