As houses age, they amass character. Each individual structure settles into its environment as trees and landscape mature. Throughout the years regular upkeep is required to maintain the home in working and presentable order. So at some point it may be necessary install replacement shutters in place of deteriorating panels.
Exterior shutters, if left unattended, can weaken over the years from myriad of outside forces. Fluctuating temperatures, precipitation and harsh UV rays can cause an aging finish to crack. A breach in that initial line of defense allows the wood grain to slowly absorb moisture which breaks down the fibers. Quality dense woods repel moisture better than low grade lumber, but eventually all natural timber will succumb to routine contact with water.
Not all outside wood shutters will age at the same rate. House shutters that are subject to daily soaking from the lawn sprinkler, in contact with overgrown branches or in the direct line of intense sunlight will likely need attention sooner than those that are protected. The best way to postpone the need to replace exterior shutters is regular yearly preventative inspection. A simple stroll around the entire property will bring awareness to areas of concern. Check the tops, joints, and backs (if possible) of several older shutters on all sides of the house. Irregular areas of the finish should be addressed immediately. Scrutinize density for sections that may have become soft.
If possible, repairing failing exterior shutters may be the most advantageous route. Sometimes all that is necessary is filling small cracks and repainting confined areas. Extensive damage may not be worth the cost and time necessary to fix, prep and paint dilapidated shutters.
If the infected area is isolated, fixing the panel could be the most practical solution to avoid mounting replacement shutters. Completely carve out the portion of soft material. Allow to rest in a dry area for several days before patching with Bondo, or similar product. After the patch hardens, sand smooth to surface level, then prime and paint the external shutter.
Exterior shutter repair will often only delay the inevitable. Once the decline begins, it is difficult to arrest the entire deterioration process. Continue to monitor the health of all wooden window shutters to detect decline.
Matching just one or two exterior shutters on a house can be, and most likely will be, difficult. Finding a company to manufacture a new shutter with the exact same specifications as the old panel is not impossible. However, there will certainly be a very hefty price tag to that request.
Before making a big investment to custom match exterior shutters, consider options that may be just close enough, and far less pricey. To prepare for a comparison, obtain the following specifications.
Note any beading, molding, cutouts, tilt bar, horns or tails incorporated into the design. A good company can match the paint color by name or physical sample. Also, take a picture of a damaged shutter and one that you are attempting to match in good condition.
The specifications for all ShutterLand shutters can be found online. If a particular detail is not listed, ask if it can be added. In the unlikely event the dimensions match, you are in luck and can replace just the old shutters that are damaged. Even if the new shutter specifications are close to the original shutters, the differences will be virtually undetectable when placed on different windows of a home.
It is best to replace shutters in pairs and to avoid placing a new panel directly next to an older preexisting one, making the differences more evident. Occasionally it is possible to swap same size shutters on the back of the house with panels from the front.
It is probably best to swap out a like for like material. For example, wood shutters will not look cohesive with vinyl shutters. There are exceptions to this rule. Occasionally exterior shutters added to opposite sides of a home will be viewed by different audiences. Sometimes one side of a building faces an alley and budget shutters can be considered.
As old exterior shutters fail, replacing them with an ultra-durable synthetic is a reality. Wood and PVC shutters look almost identical when finished. Both can be installed in a stationary position or with functional hinges.
Historical homes regularly have a governing body that scrutinizes every aspect of the property. Exterior reproduction shutters need to adhere to very strict guidelines with even the smallest element duplicated. However, some historical oversight committees are less rigid and some PVC or wood reproduction shutters manufactured with predetermined specifications are acceptable. ShutterLand can help with this assessment and would be glad to speak with you about your historical shutter project.
Replacing all window shutters on a building can be hard on the pocketbook but beneficial in flexibility. If matching the previous shutters is unnecessary, more freedom may be given to deciding the style, configuration and color.
If at all possible, salvage any functional exterior shutter hardware. Shutter hinges, shutter dogs, bolt locks and pulls can be expensive and difficult to match. House of Antique Hardware is prepared to assist homeowners looking for period pieces or restoration hardware. Even if the window shutters will not be functional, these embellishments are important to the overall appearance.
Decorative vinyl shutters are considerably easier to match. Most of the plastic shutters manufactured in the United States use a very similar profile. The color may be the most difficult aspect to duplicate. Return to the original retailer if possible. Otherwise, search by the color name for the best match.