Outdoor Wood vs. PVC Shutters

Installing exterior shutters presents a great opportunity to add color, dimension and character to almost any style of home. The number of choices in material and style can be overwhelming. Thankfully, ShutterLand has decades of experience helping thousands of homeowners and contractors navigate the options to obtain just the right shutters for each unique project. Two of the highest quality and most versatile materials for exterior shutters are premium wood and PVC.

Exterior Shutter Materials

Premium wood is historically the most common material to use for manufacturing exterior shutters. They are versatile, durable and rich in character, with the ability to be installed for function – light control, managing airflow and privacy – and aesthetic improvement.

PVC exterior shutters are virtually indistinguishable from wood, can be installed to be functional, and have projected longevity that far exceeds any other material.

Of all possible shutter materials, premium wood and PVC are the most easily interchangeable in the way they look and function.

What is Premium Wood?

ShutterLand offers three different premium wood options: Red Grandis, Cedar and Mahogany. All outdoor shutters are built with solid lengths of meticulously selected kiln-dried premium lumber. Boards are inspected for straightness and to remove imperfections. The species offered are tremendous for outdoor use and resistant to both insects and decay.

What is PVC?

PVC shutters are exceptionally strong and heavier than wood 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 that is used to manufacture components for exterior shutters.

Install Premium Wood or PVC Shutters

Both premium wood and PVC shutters can be installed in a stationary position or with hinges for complete functionality. The installation method will largely be determined by the window configuration and the function they will be asked to perform.

Installation of wood shutters can be achieved using several different methods. The use of exterior hinges and shutter dogs is used most often when the shutters need to swing open and closed. There are a variety of hinge options depending on the function and style desired. Shutter hardware also enhances the appearance of the shutters, giving another opportunity to customize the design of the overall home. If operable shutters are not necessary, exterior-grade screws can be drilled through the shutter and directly into the siding. The screw head can be painted or the hole can be filled.

Shipments of PVC shutters include polycarbonate installation brackets for a stationary installation. This system is the easiest method for permanently installing PVC shutters to a building, with brackets that are nearly invisible to the top and bottom of each shutter. However, 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 wood shutters, so they will need multiple hinges on each side of the shutter for adequate support. The use of authentic exterior hardware and shutter dogs can serve as an additional design element.

Exterior Shutter Styles and Appearance

Every shutter style is available in both premium wood and PVC materials: louvered, raised panel, flat panel, shaker panel, combination, board & batten and Bahama.

Louvered and Bahama shutters look nearly the same whether constructed from premium wood or PVC. Individual slats 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 both premium wood and PVC louvered shutters more historically accurate. The only small difference between these louvered shutters is the louver sizes available: Premium wood shutters are available with 1 ½” louvers or 1 ¾” louvers, while PVC shutters have 1 ⅝” louvers.

Solid panel shutters have stiles and rails constructed from either premium wood or PVC. Both materials utilize composite center panels because the material can be manufactured as one solid piece to maintain form. This results in an extended lifespan for paneled shutters. It should be noted that the paneled sections only have one presentable side, with no detail on the back.

While there are slight variances in the specifications of wood and PVC shutters, it is nearly impossible to visually tell the difference between materials when they are painted. Premium wood shutters are 1 ½” thick, to provide the best longevity. While PVC shutters have a depth of 1 ¼”, the dimensional stability is superior because of the nature of the material. Side stile and rail sizes differ between the two materials, but the effect is negligible.

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 airflow through the louvers.

Premium wood is a very popular material for Bahama shutters because of its strength and attractiveness.  Historically, Bahama shutters have exclusively been available in wood, and it is an option that has stood the test of time.

PVC material lends itself very well to Bahama shutters since it utilizes individual louvers and is virtually indistinguishable from wood. The moisture-resistant nature of PVC is exceptionally appealing for Bahama shutters often installed in humid coastal areas. Paint finishes last longer and maintenance requirements are minimal for Bahama shutters manufactured from heavy-duty PVC.

Compare Price and Value of Shutter Materials

Both premium wood and PVC shutters provide great value and a good return on investment. Premium wood 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

Premium wood shutters have a current estimated production time of 4-6 weeks, while PVC shutters are manufactured more quickly, usually completed within 2-4 weeks. While timeframes cannot be guaranteed, ShutterLand does work diligently to manufacture high-quality shutters within the time quoted. After the completion of the shutters, they are packaged and shipped directly for delivery within about a week.

All premium wood and PVC shutters less than 24 inches in width and 86 inches in height ship for free. A one-time oversize shipping fee of $200 is applied to orders that exceed those dimensions.

Why Premium Wood Shutters

+ Lower price point than PVC
+ Long-lasting material with many options
+ Lighter weight for functional installations
+ Traditionally most common material for exterior shutters

Why PVC Shutters

+ Longest-lasting shutter material available
+ Nearly indistinguishable from wood shutters
+ Can be installed to be stationary or functional
+ Appropriate for most historical renovations

Lifespan of Outdoor Shutters

Both premium wood and PVC shutters are manufactured for long life in harsh outdoor environments.

Premium woods, when kiln-dried and properly finished, will last for decades. However, all wood materials expand and contract in changing weather conditions, which can develop cracks in the paint finish over time. For this reason, we recommend regular inspection and maintenance of wood shutters to identify and paint cracks or chips before they lead to a problem. If water is ever allowed to penetrate the finish, wood will eventually absorb moisture and lead to decay.

PVC material does not expand or contract with temperature changes, so they are much less likely to develop cracks or chips in the paint finish. Further, the engineering of the PVC material makes it impervious to rot or mold because it does not absorb moisture. Polyvinyl chloride is a repellent to insects like carpenter bees and termites. The density of the material makes PVC shutters nearly impossible to dent or gouge. All of these attributes lead to an exterior shutter that is virtually maintenance-free with the longest life expectancy available.

Paint Finish

Premium wood shutters can be ordered unfinished, primed, or factory-painted. All wood shutters need to be properly finished to withstand exterior conditions. Louvered, board & batten and Bahama shutters are available in a stain-grade finish, with lumber selected for relatively uniform grain and any minor blemishes filled with stain-grade wood filler.

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. PVC shutters are not stainable because the material does not absorb liquid.

Both premium wood 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. Nine popular standard paint colors are available or a custom color match can be provided for a one-time charge of $200.

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