Composite Exterior Shutters Installation

Exterior composite shutters are intended to be installed in a stationary position. Because they have only one presentable side, they are less suited for functional installation than other materials.

The installation strategy for any application is best made in the measuring for composite shutters phase. The measuring process will assess the available mounting surfaces.

Composite shutter installation on colonial house windows.

Installation of Outdoor Composite Shutters with Brackets Included

Lexan Polycarbonate fixed mounting brackets and screws are included with every composite shutter ordered. These v-shaped 1-1/8″ x 1-1/8″ brackets are specifically suited for use with outdoor composite shutters and result in the best overall outcome. The vertical side of the bracket attaches to the building. The perpendicular side screws to either the top or bottom of the shutter. The brackets extend the full width of the shutter and are not easily visible after installed.

The Lexan mounting method is effective on almost all siding materials. Brick or stone may necessitate the use of wall anchors, or molly bolts. Screw locations need to be pre-drilled with a masonry bit prior to insertion of the anchor. Wood shake shingles can be uneven but are easy to drill into. Vinyl siding may lack the fortitude to adhere supports. 

The Lexan support locks the shutter in a fixed position. The supports are clear and will not distract from an attractive presentation. The use of stationary Lexan fixed mounting brackets is recommended but is also optional. Holes in Lexan brackets are not pre-drilled. Use a 1/4″ bit to drill two holes on one edge of the first bracket. The holes should be about 2″ from each end of the bracket. Then drill holes on the other edge of the bracket, each about 2.5″ from the bracket end (this makes sure the screws do not intersect). Repeat this process for all of the long brackets. Some shutters require additional support with a center edge bracket. Drill one hole on each edge of the smaller brackets (offset to avoid intersecting screws).

Install Composite Shutters with Locking French Cleats

Composite shutters can be installed with French cleats, but this method is inferior to the polycarbonate brackets. This method uses two interlocking lengths of wood or metal. One piece attaches to the building and the other to the back of the shutter. The down-facing shutter side crosspiece is lowered onto the upward slanted bottom bracket. Similar z-bar, or z-clips, hold the shutter against the building.

Metal cleats (opposed to wood cleats) will probably perform best over time. Locking cleats will ensure the shutters do not slide or fall out. At least three cleats are needed to keep the shutters in alignment. The first cleat should be toward the top of the shutter.

Outdoor Composite Shutter Installation with Screws or Bolts

As a last resort, composite shutters may also be installed directly to the building with screws. The screws enter through the face of the shutter and extend into the building. Each panel must be secured at all four corners. It may be necessary to add screws in the center edges for taller shutters.

Fasteners should be corrosion resistant to ensure the longest possible life to permanently secure the panels in a stationary open position. Nails are not recommended because they can become loose over time, and hammering may damage the window shutters. Hot dipped galvanized steel bolts are a very substantial option, but are often more bulky than necessary to install exterior shutters. High-quality exterior grade stainless steel or deck screws with a lifetime polymer coating for wood siding are advised. The screw length needs to be sufficient to pass through the 1.25″ side stiles and into the building.

This method is best used for wood siding, but can be used with other stable materials. Hard surfaces will need to employ a wall anchor.

Abbreviated installation steps with screws*:

  1. Hold one shutter in place beside the window to confirm there are no obstacles and that screws will connect with a solid surface.
  2. Drill four holes in the four corners.
  3. Return the shutter to the window and start the top window side screw.
  4. Insert a spacer between the shutter and siding.
  5. Level the panel.
  6. Fasten the additional three screws.
  7. Paint the screw heads.
  8. Repeat the process for shutter on the opposite side of the window.

*Wood and composite shutters are installed with fixed mounting screws using the same steps. A more complete version of the above instructions is outlined on the “How to Install Wood Shutters” page.