This is a very common question and one where the answer really depends on how you plan to use your shutters. Will you be closing them daily to help insulate your home or only for the next hurricane? Maybe your shutters will be strictly decorative.
As a general rule of thumb there are two reasons why you will need hardware for your shutters. One is that you need the shutters to function and the other is that you simply want your shutters to look like they function.
Exterior shutter hardware is broken down in to 4 types of pieces: hinges, shutter dogs, security and pulls. Even if you need, or want, exterior shutter hardware you may not need all the different pieces.
Hinges: These would be needed when you want to be able to open and close the shutters, or easily remove the shutters from the house. These include both surface mounted strap hinges and edge mortised hinges. One big benefit of using hinges, even if the shutters are just for show, is that they will hold the shutters at an angle to the house which is traditional. One of the biggest mistakes people make when installing shutters is to fix them flat against the face of the house. A working shutter, on hinges, would always be sticking out along the window side by an inch or more.
Shutters Dogs: Also called “shutter holdbacks”, “shutter stops” and “shutter ties”. These are used to hold the shutters open against the face of the house. If you plan to open and close your shutters these are a must. They are available in many different styles including the most commonly found S-curve shape as well as whimsical dolphins, traditional English rat tails and a Little French Girl design. Even if you do not plan to use your shutters you should consider using shutter dogs. It is a simple way to add a decorative touch while giving the appearance of working shutters.
Security: If you are going to close your shutters for storm protection, or for security, you will need a way to keep them closed. There are a few ways to do this. The most common in the United States is a slide bolt. In Europe you will find cremone bolts used to lock shutters. Both of these are decorative and functional. Another more rustic option are the bar staples which are heavy pieces of steel that hold a 2 x 4 to secure the shutters.
Ring Pulls: These are small rings, mounted to the outer edge of the shutters, used to make it easier for the homeowner to pull the shutters closed from inside the house. If you plan to close your shutters often this is definitely something to consider.
So if your shutters will be fully functioning you will need hinges, shutter dogs and something to secure the shutters when closed. Depending on how often you will close your shutters you could optionally add ring pulls. If the shutters are only for decoration then which pieces of hardware to add is purely a matter of personal preference.
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