Composite Exterior Shutters Installation

There are multiple ways to install exterior composite shutters. The best method depends on the desired functionality of the shutters, the house siding material and the contour of the siding. The installation strategy for any application is best made in the measuring for composite shutters phase.

Below, we discuss four possible techniques for successfully installing composite exterior shutters.

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. 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 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.

The Lexan support locks the shutter in a fixed position. Follow the installation instructions for a successful installation. The supports are clear and will not distract from an attractive presentation. The use of stationary Lexan fixed mounting brackets is 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

Some customers have successfully installed composite shutters with French cleats. 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.

Obtain the referenced hardware by searching online for “Orange Aluminum Locking Heavy Duty Panel Cleat.” Metal cleats (opposed to wood cleats) will probably perform best over time. Locking cleats will ensure the shutters do not slide or fall out.

Outdoor Composite Shutter Installation with Screws or Bolts

Composite shutters may also be installed direct 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.

How to Install Composite Shutters with Functional Hardware

Composite panels can be installed with shutter specific outdoor hinges. There are several reasons homeowners choose this particular method. First, exterior hardware enhances character. The additional detail contributes to a complete presentation with depth and form. Outdoor shutter hinges support the panels on the window side. When closed, the central barrel of the hinge is visible. Shutter dogs hold the shutters in a locked open position. Shutter dogs are often constructed into intricate shapes.

Hardware also enables the shutters to swing open and closed. One portion of the hinge attaches to the building, with a second segment to the shutter. Composite shutters do need to be pre-drilled before screws can be used. The hinge then pivots, allowing the shutters to rotate horizontally. Exterior composite shutters do only have one presentable side. The back is flat with no detail, so composite shutters can be closed occasionally for storm protection. Otherwise, for shutters that will be opened and closed on a regular basis, most homeowners install exterior wood shutters.

The house sometimes dictates the installation method and hinging shutters may be the best approach based on the facade. Some windows have nice large stable flat trim surrounding the opening, yet have surfaces outside of the perimeter that are difficult to gauge. Wood shake shingles can be uneven and vinyl siding can lack the fortitude to adhere supports. Rock or stone can be dense, making it difficult to locate proper mooring points. 

Large composite shutters may require more hinges than wood shutters. The composite material is about 50% heavier than Red Grandis or Cedar. A third center hinge is regularly suggested. It is recommended that strap hinges are used in conjunction with composite shutters. Edge mount butt hinges can put undue stress on the screw holes.

Abbreviated installation steps with hinges*:

  1. Hold the shutters in the window opening.
  2. Observe obstructions that may prevent the shutters from opening fully.
  3. Identify where the outdoor hinges will attach.
  4. Lay flat and align the hinges.
  5. Attach the hinges.
  6. Establish placement of each pintle and fasten the screws.
  7. Identify the best shutter dog installation location. 
  8. Secure the shutter dogs.
  9. Screw in the remaining hardware to complete the installation.

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