Exterior Vinyl Shutters vs PVC Shutters

The addition of exterior shutters can be one of the most impactful exterior home improvements. Shutters are an architectural element that instantly adds color, dimension and curb appeal. While there are many options available, it is important to determine the best material for each project based on the functionality, longevity and price point required. This article will elaborate the benefits and limitations of vinyl and PVC materials.

Compare vinyl vs pvc exterior shutter material.

Vinyl Shutters

+ Lowest priced material
+ Quickest production time
+ Long-lasting with may options
+ Light weight for easy installation
+ Low-maintenance, impervious to moisture

PVC Shutters

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

Exterior Shutter Materials

Throughout history, homes have utilized wood exterior shutters for the purposes of controlling light, providing privacy, and directing airflow. These shutters were always installed in a functional way to open and close over the window when desired. Recent technological advances have led to manufacturing synthetic materials for exterior shutters that require less maintenance than wood. They both repel water and insects effectively and have a longer lifespan than a natural product.

PVC is the non-wood material that most closely aligns with the look and feel of wood shutters. It results in a sturdy shutter that is very solid in composition. PVC shutters are offered in a wide variety of styles with many customizations available, and they can be installed with hinges for full functionality.

Vinyl is a synthetic material that offers an entry-level product, suitable for updating an exterior with color and dimension. Because vinyl shutters are assembled in a way that requires installation to gain its stability, it is not suitable for use with hinges.

What are Vinyl Shutters?

Synthetic vinyl shutters are constructed from injection molded polypropylene components with UV stabilizers. The panels are constructed in the form of a shell with four sides and a front, and the hollow back reveals the molded framework support. These shutters can feel flimsy right out of the box, but they are quite sturdy once attached to the building.

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 Vinyl or PVC Shutters

Both materials can be installed in a stationary position, but only PVC can be installed to be functional. Vinyl shutters install with spikes or screws inserted through the face of the shutter and into the siding. The spike/screw heads are supplied in the same color as the shutter to minimize attention. Holes for installation are not pre-drilled, so the best location can be determined while installing. These shutters cannot be mounted with hinges, only in an immobile position. However, faux hardware and shutter dogs can be utilized to give the illusion of functionality for vinyl shutters.

There is more versatility for installing PVC shutters. PVC shutters install easily with the included 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 Vinyl and PVC Shutters

Several exterior shutter styles are available in both vinyl and PVC materials: louvered, raised panel, combination and board and batten.

One notable exception to the list of available styles is Bahama shutters. Bahama shutters (sometimes called Bermuda shutters) are installed at the top of the window and intended to provide air flow and visibility between louvers. Because they cannot be installed in a stationary position, Bahama shutters can be manufactured from PVC material, but not vinyl.

Vinyl shutters are also not available in flat panel or shaker panel (sometimes called grooved panel) designs. They are only offered in a raised panel configuration.

Exterior Shutter Appearance

Vinyl and PVC shutters have very different appearances. Vinyl shutters add a pop of color to a home and are commonly found in many neighborhoods, but upon inspection will not be mistaken for authentic wood shutters. However, it can be nearly impossible to tell the difference between wood and solid PVC shutters.

Vinyl shutters start with injected molded polypropylene components that are 1/8” thick. Those components are cut to size, then heat welded and stapled for stable cohesion. The shutters feel insubstantial right out of the box, but they are very stable after installation once the building provides the structure needed on the back side of the shutter. There is a wood grain texture imprinted on the front surface to minimize the potential of a flat reflective glare.

PVC shutters are substantial shutters manufactured with most of the same techniques as wood shutters. The PVC components are dimensionally stable and exceptionally straight, allowing for construction of shutters with remarkable durability, long life expectancy and a wide variety of options for installation.

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 the Bahama style since it utilizes individual louvers. The moisture resistant nature of PVC is exceptionally appealing for Bahama shutters often installed in humid coastal
areas.

Vinyl does not assemble into a solid shutter, and it is not possible to install with hinges, so it cannot be used in the construction of Bahama shutters.

Compare Price and Value of Shutter Materials

Vinyl shutters are the most affordable option for exterior shutters. They provide great value for attractive shutters that improve a home’s curb appeal quickly. Vinyl shutters are long-lasting and easier for homeowners to install on their own because they are lighter weight and require only basic tools and minimal skill.

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. These solid shutters are a more upscale option for historical homes and homes that require shutters to be functional. Many homeowners install PVC shutters themselves, although they are heavier and may require more skill and equipment than vinyl shutters.

Production and Shipping Time

Vinyl shutters have a current estimated production time of 1-3 weeks, and are almost always the fastest shutter to assemble. PVC shutters take approximately 4-5 weeks to manufacture. 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 nationwide delivery within about a week.

All PVC shutters less than 24 inches in width and 86 inches in height ship for free. A one-time oversize shipping fee of $300 is applied to orders that exceed those dimensions.

Most vinyl shutters also ship for free, but larger sizes as indicated on this chart necessitate a one-time oversize shipping fee of $200. That fee will be automatically added to the shopping cart.

Lifespan of Outdoor Shutters

Both vinyl and PVC shutters have extended lifespan due to the fabrication of these revolutionary materials that resist moisture. Neither material expands or contracts in changing weather conditions, so neither material is susceptible to developing cracks in the finish. In addition, insects are detracted by both vinyl and PVC materials, so damage from carpenter bees or termites is not a concern.

PVC is the longest-lasting shutter material available. PVC shutters are built with completely solid components, and the material density makes them incredibly difficult to dent or gouge. They are exceptionally low maintenance, requiring just occasional inspections to ensure the paint finish is intact.

Vinyl shutters are sturdy when installed, although because they are not solid throughout, they can be damaged in the course of violent storms or if dented by a strong force. Because the color is molded throughout the vinyl material, it does not need to be inspected for cracks in the finish. However, a regular wash with water and mild soap will help the shutters stay clean and prevent oxidation.

While both materials are designed to provide decades of dependable service, PVC shutters edge out vinyl in the categories of longevity and low maintenance.

Paint Finish & Colors

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.

When factory painting is selected, 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. PVC shutters are not stainable because they do not absorb liquids.

Vinyl shutters are available in 19 standard outdoor shutter colors or a paintable Polystyrene option. The colors are molded through the vinyl material for a lifetime finish. Added UV inhibitors protect against fading and discoloration of the exterior shutters. Paintable Polystyrene vinyl shutters arrive unfinished in a pearl white color, ready to receive a prime coat and paint finish