Wood and Vinyl Shutters - Making the Right Choice
CHALLENGE: I am an interior
designer in the Southern California area. I work with many clients
who are choosing interior shutters as their preference for window
treatments. I do know that by installing shutters in the home it
will increase the value of the home, as it is a permanent fixture,
according to our Department of Real Estate. That is such a great
My question is: What are the advantages of wood shutters versus
vinyl shutters? Many of my clients ask me this question on a daily
SOLUTION: Let me start
by assuring you that both products have their definite advantages.
Wood shutters have been around for literally hundreds of years.
They have been proven through the test of time both inside and out.
As with any good piece of furniture, the life and quality of the
product depends on the type of wood used. The most common woods
used in todayís market are pine, poplar, basswood and oak.
As for the qualities of the various woods, pine is the softest of
the woods mentioned. The disadvantage to pine in a high-use area
is that its softness tends to show all the indentations made by
daily use and abuse including animal claw marks and gouges made
by sharp objects hitting the wood. An advantage of pine shutters
would be pricing. They tend to be on the lower end of the price
spectrum and are readily available ready-made in many retail establishments
An advantage of poplar, basswood and oak is they tend to be stronger
and more durable woods for shutters. They will take stain and paint
applications easier, and various grains of each wood are readily
available today. Oak is one of the most costly of the three woods.
A disadvantage of poplar, basswood and oak is their inability to
withstand highly humid climates or climate changes. In most cases,
they are not recommended in highly humid environments.
Wood shutters offer many options. They can be stained or painted
in almost any color choice. The grains are available in smooth and
rough-sawn choices. A clientís choice depends on the type
of look they want in their room. Both traditional and contemporary
designs will be enlightened by the use of wood shutters.
Wood shutters also are available in different choices of louver
depths. Wood shutters usually will not warp, crack, chip or peel
when the proper steps are taken in the milling process and when
they are done in the proper environment. They are available in a
variety of custom shapes and sizes, as well. A disadvantage would
be pricing compared to pine and vinyl, but not by much, sometimes
around 20 percent higher.
Vinyl shutters have their advantages and disadvantages also. A vinyl
shutter is durable and looks like real wood. They are available
in many wood grain look finishes that can really fool the eye. They
will withstand almost all types of weather and often are recommended
in areas where wood is not recommended, such as tropical environments
and high humidity environments where water can be found.
Although vinyl shutters can be made in any color, they often are
offered in the most popular color ranges, which can be limiting.
Also, they cannot be stained to blend with furniture in a room.
However, maintenance is very low and refinishing is not required.
As for pricing, vinyl shutters nearly always are lower in price
than wood. For the right environment, vinyl shutters are a good
choice if pricing is a factor.
I would recommend that all designers and decorators become familiar
with shutter suppliers offering wood and vinyl products. (Many offer
both.) A reputable company that will stand behind its product is
the right choice. A minimum one-year warranty usually is offered.
Editorís note: This is a continuing series of articles
written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many
questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well
as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you
have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and
commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member
at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in
numerous books and publications.