Exterior Composite Shutters vs. PVC Shutters

The decision to enhance a home with exterior shutters is frequently an easy one. Shutters are an architectural element that instantly adds color, dimension and curb appeal. The difficulty arises when confronted with all of the various materials available on the market. Thankfully, the different features of each material will help reveal the best choice for each project.

Exterior Shutter Materials

Historically, exterior shutters were manufactured from wood and intended for the functional purposes of light control, managing airflow and privacy. In recent years, great advances have been made in the manufacturing of synthetic materials that require less maintenance than wood yet provide many of the same benefits.

PVC vs composite exterior shutters.

Composite Shutters

+ Lower price point than wood or PVC
+ Long-lasting material with many options
+ Solid material
+ Approximates the look of wood
+ Excellent for stationary applications

PVC Shutters

+ Longest-lasting shutter material available
+ Nearly indistinguishable from wood
+ Functional or stationary installation
+ Presentable from both sides
+ Appropriate for historical renovations

The terms composite and PVC may sound like the same thing. However, they are not, and they produce two very different shutters. Composite and PVC are two of the highest quality non-wood options for shutters, yet each are suited for slightly different purposes.

Both composite and PVC shutters are very solid in composition. They both repel water effectively, which leads to a longer lifespan than wood shutters and make them suited for installation in a variety of climates. They are both offered in a wide variety of styles with many customizations available. Take note of their characteristics to determine the best shutter material for your application.

What are Composite Shutters?

Composite shutters are manufactured from Extira, a material composed of wood fibers and marine grade resins pressed into large sheets. Components are then milled and assembled into the full shutter. Extira is extremely dense and is therefore heavier than wood. Individual shutter weights can be generated on the product page.

What are PVC Shutters?

PVC shutters are exceptionally strong and heavier than composite as a result of the technological formulation and engineering of the raw material. Diverse polymers are co-extruded to create a multilayer structure. Then those segments meld together in the cooling process, creating a consistent texture and dimensionally stable material.

Install Composite or PVC Shutters

Both materials can be installed in a stationary position, but only PVC and be installed to be functional.

ShutterLand includes polycarbonate installation brackets with all shipments of composite and PVC shutters. This system is the best method for permanently affixing shutters to a building, and it is the only recommended method for installing composite shutters. Faux hardware and shutter dogs can be utilized to give the illusion of functional shutters, but the composite material does not lend itself to installation with hinges.

There is more versatility for installing PVC shutters. PVC shutters install easily with the polycarbonate installation brackets on the top and bottom of the shutter if a stationary location is desired. PVC shutters are also suitable for use as functional shutters that can be hinged to swing open and closed over the window. PVC shutters are heavier than other materials, so they will likely need multiple hinges on each size of the shutter for adequate support. The use of authentic exterior hardware and shutter dogs can serve as additional design element.

Styles of Composite and PVC Shutters

Most exterior shutter styles are available in both composite and PVC materials: louvered, raised panel, flat panel, shaker style, board and batten.

The notable exception is Bahama shutters (sometimes called Bermuda shutters) are installed at the top of the window and intended to provide air flow and visibility between louvers. Bahama shutters can be manufactured from PVC material, but not composite.

Exterior Shutter Appearance

Composite and PVC shutters have very similar appearances for solid raised panel, flat panel and shaker shutters. Shutters constructed from both of these materials utilize composite panels, which have detail on the front and are flat on the back.

Board and batten shutters manufactured from the composite and PVC differ slightly. Composite boards are crafted from one solid sheet, engraved with vertical partitions to create the illusion of realistic separate members. PVC board and batten shutters are assembled with individual boards either in a closed weave position or an open weave, with ¼” space between boards.

Louvered shutters differ more significantly between the two materials. PVC louvered and Bahama shutters are manufactured with individual slats that are connected to the side stiles at regular intervals to provide equally spaced louvers in a fixed position. Providing space between the louvers is beneficial for functional reasons and makes the PVC louvered shutters more historically accurate.

Composite louvered shutters are milled with banks of interconnected louvers with no space between. The louver angle gives the appearance of realistic louvers when installed to a building. However, they may not comply with historic society restrictions.

The final difference in appearance is the consistency of the materials. The louvered sections of composite shutters are cut on the diagonal. This exposes the embedded wood fibers, causing the surface to become slightly rougher than the face. The fabrication and material density of PVC results in components that are all exceptionally straight and smooth.

Bahama Shutters

Bahama shutters are sometimes called Bermuda shutters and are a specific style of shutter that hinges from the top of the window and swing out from the bottom. They are intended to provide storm protection and decrease visibility in the closed position. In the open position, they provide shade from direct sun, while allowing visibility and air flow through the louvers.

PVC material lends itself very well to Bahama shutters since it utilizes individual louvers. The moisture-resistant nature of PVC is exceptionally appealing for Bahama shutters often installed in humid coastal areas.

The composite material does not have space between the louvers, and the back side does not have detail, so it cannot be used in the construction of Bahama shutters.

Compare Price and Value of Shutter Materials

Both composite and PVC shutters provide great value and a good return on investment. Composite shutters are more affordably priced and are a great value for attractive shutters with extended durability. PVC shutters are sold at a higher price point, but with longer projected longevity and lower maintenance required over time, may prove to be the better value. Both shutter materials are high quality options that are well worth the investment in home improvement.

Production and Shipping Time

Composite shutters have a current estimated production time of 4-5 weeks, while PVC shutters take approximately 4-5 weeks. ShutterLand works diligently to get all shutters built within the timeframe quoted. After the completion of the shutters, they are packaged and shipped direct for delivery within about a week.

All composite and PVC shutters less than 24 inches in width and 86 inches in height ship for free. A one-time oversize shipping fee of xxx is applied to orders that exceed those dimensions.

Lifespan of Outdoor Shutters

Both composite and PVC shutters have extended lifespan due to the fabrication of these revolutionary materials that resist moisture. It is still recommended to inspect composite and PVC shutters on a semi-regular basis to ensure the paint finish is intact. However, neither material expands or contracts in changing weather conditions, so they are much less likely to develop cracks or chips in the paint finish. In addition, insects are detracted by both composite and PVC materials, so damage from carpenter bees or termites is not a concern.

Composite shutters PVC shutters are built with completely solid components, and the material density makes them incredibly difficult to dent or gouge. While both materials are designed to provide decades of dependable service, PVC shutters edge out composite in the categories of longevity and low maintenance.

Paint Finish

Composite shutters can be ordered unfinished, primed or fully painted. ShutterLand uses a high-performance Benjamin Moore oil primer/sealer for composite shutters, and recommends factory priming since some types of primer do not adhere well to the material. As mentioned earlier, the louvered and raised panel sections of composite shutters often have a slightly rougher texture. This is not obvious from a distance but will be more noticeable when painting the shutters.

PVC shutters can be ordered unfinished or fully painted. It is not recommended to use primer on PVC shutters because the material itself is ready to accept paint after a simple cleaning to remove dust particles. The smooth consistency of PVC material leads to an exceptionally beautiful finished product that is virtually indistinguishable from wood.

Both composite shutters and PVC shutters are painted in the same way. ShutterLand applies two coats of Benjamin Moore Corotech COMMAND paint in a satin sheen for the most durable exterior finish. Customers choose from a selection of nine standard paint colors or can select a custom color match for a one-time charge of $200. Neither composite nor PVC shutters are stainable because they do not absorb liquids.

It may also be beneficial to compare composite vs. vinyl shuttersvinyl vs. wood shutters, or wood vs composite shutters.