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Using Exterior Shutters & Doors on your Outdoor Living Space

Something that we have been seeing more of in the last couple of years has been the use of shutters and doors to create more usable living space.   We see shutters and doors being used as windbreaks on decks and around pools, forming the walls of gazebos, cabanas, outdoor showers and even fully enclosing porches.

Plantion shutters used to block the sun on the outdoor lobby of this Dude Ranch

Here operable louver shutters are combined with roman shades to control the light on the porch lobby of this Dude Ranch.

Exterior Shutters as Windbreaks and Sun Screens

Louvered shutters, both operable and fixed, do an excellent job of blocking the wind and Sun.  These are usually mounted with hinges or fixed in frames.  Another common installation method is to make a simple wood frame with a groove to allow the louvered shutters to slide back and forth.  The benefit of the hinges or slide are that you can easily move the shutters out of the way if you want an unobstructed view.

If you are looking to drastically reduce the amount of wind or sun consider alternating between louvered shutters and a solid style shutter like a raised panel or tongue & groove.  Alternatively if you are looking to block the sun or wind in only a single place on your porch you can always create a mini frame to hold the shutters in that spot and leave the rest open.

Gazebos and Cabanas

Plantation shutters areused to enclose this Gazebo overlooking Puget Sound.

Plantation Shutters on a Gazebo overlooking Puget Sound

Just like louvered shutters can be used as windbreaks and sun screens on a porch they can be adapted to stand alone structures like gazebos and cabanas.  There they can be used to create walls between the posts and roof supports and even provide security.  If hinged they can be opened up to create “windows”.  We often see louvered doors added to cabanas to provide privacy as a changing room or outdoor shower.

If only a little bit of ventilation is needed choose a style like our louver over tongue & groove.  This gives the extra protection and sound insulation from the true tongue & groove boards while still providing some air flow.

Operable Louvers v.s. Fixed Louvers

  • Operable louvers allow you to adjust how much of the wind and sun is blocked so that you can completely shut out the Sun, wind or rain and then open it up for more gentle breezes.   If you have particularly strong winds you may need to attach a simple latch to keep the louvers open or closed during blustery days.
  • Fixed louvers will deflect the Sun, wind and rain but still allow a steady flow of air.  This is helpful where there is a concern for overheating and a need for constant circulation.  Since the louvers are fixed these are best hinged or in sliding frames.  That way they can be opened up when you want.

The best thing to do is to go where you plan to add exterior shutters and doors and think about what you want to block.  Is it the sunlight, wind, your neighbors house or just the outdoors in general?  Do you want to the shutters to cover the entire area or just a part?  Will you want to be able to remove or open the shutters or do you prefer them to be fixed in place.  Going through these questions will help to narrow down what will work best for your home.  If you are still not sure what will work best give us a call, an email or use our online chat.

Exterior shutters and doors on a pool-side cabana

Exterior shutters enclose this pool-side bar and cabana.

operable louvered door on an outdoor changing room

An operable louvered door is used to close of this outdoor changing room.

operable louvered shutters act as a windbreak on this second story porch

Operable louvered shutters act as a windbreak and privacy screen on this second story porch.

arched shutters block the wind in this breezeway

Arched, fixed louvered exterior shutters were used to block off one side of this breezeway between buildings.

Reproducing Exterior Shutters for Historic Homes

In the last 24 years we have reproduced many exterior shutters for many historic homes and buildings.  While some shutter details were consistent to style or location of the homes others had feature that made them unique.  When we look at an historic project there are certain things we need to consider.

Historic Reproduction Exterior Shutters

What details on your Exterior Shutters need to be matched?

To begin with, almost any detail can be matched.  We have matched custom cutouts, raised panel and louver profiles, stile and rail dimensions, shutter thickness, through-tenons, lead capping, horns and more.

As far as what details you NEED to have matched … this will vary as the answer depends on many factors including personal preference, historical requirements and even funding sources.

If your home is on the national registry of historic places you should check with your State Historic Preservation Officer.  They can direct you to the information you need regarding reproductions.  Local historical societies can also help and should be checked as they may have different requirements from the state.

If your home is not on the national registry then what is matched is really up to you.  We have done homes where the new shutters matched every detail to nothing at all.  Sometimes as long the shutters look appropriate to the home the preference is to go with a completely different style of shutter.

In other cases the cost of the exterior shutters is being covered by a government grant and everything needs to be matched.  The arched shutters shown at left are a good example of that.  The original shutters, from an octagon house built in the mid 1800’s, had been made an inch too short.  Because of the source of the grant money we had to make sure that the new shutters were made an inch too short as well and then tack on a piece of wood at the bottom.  We did offer to make them to the correct size but that was turned down as that was not how the original shutters had been made.

Matching the original Exterior Shutters

The General Maxwell Headquarters at Valley Forge national Park prior to Kestrel Exterior Shutter Restoration

The General Maxwell Headquarters at Valley Forge national Park prior to Kestrel Exterior Shutter Restoration

Of course the thing that helps the most in matching older shutters is having the original shutters in the first place.  Even if they are in poor condition we can still learn a lot.   In some cases the originals were destroyed years back so no one really knows for sure what the exterior shutters looked like.   For cases like this we rely on any old photos that the current owners have found.  If they have no photos then the next places to turn to are the historical society and other local homes from the same time period.  Since many of our exterior shutters designs are based on traditional styles our standards can usually blend right in with what is needed for a historically accurate home.

If the originals can be found the best thing is to send us a matched pair so that we can take accurate measurements.  Even with the originals in hand it can be a bit tricky.  Sometimes we find that the shutters had been trimmed down at some point to allow for new windows or storm windows being installed.  Other times the shutters have started to fall apart and the only thing holding them together are the dozen or so paint jobs that have been applied over the years.

Kestrel Reproduction Exterior Shutters installed on The General Maxwell Headquarters at Valley Forge National Park

Kestrel Reproduction Exterior Shutters installed on The General Maxwell Headquarters at Valley Forge National Park

Even without the originals we can tell a lot from photographs.  We may not be able to get minute details but we can still make sure that the overall look of the shutters will match what was once there.

The cost of reproduction exterior shutters

There is no way to guess at the pricing without seeing what we are matching.  Since our exterior shutter specifications are based on historic designs, quite often there is no additional charge.  Certain details, like matching the width of rails or stiles, are really just a one time setup cost.  If you only need 1 or 2 shutters it may not be practical but when spread out over several shutters the setup costs are minor.  Other features, like matching decorative trim or the shape of a raised panel, require special cutting knives to be made.  Here again the price may be a bit prohibitive for only 1 or 2 shutters but reasonable for an entire house worth of shutters.

The best way to start with getting a quote is to send us a list of sizes, some photos or drawings and letting us know what you would like us to match.
We will probably go back and forth a few times to make sure that we are quoting you what you want.  Then we will be able to send you some quotes, pricing out the different features as well as some options that will lower the cost.

Regardless of what you are looking for in the way of Exterior Shutters, give us a call or send us an email.  We will be happy to work with you to make you what you want.

windows too close for exterior shuttersIt is not uncommon to have a window somewhere on your home where there is physically not enough room for exterior shutters. It could be that 2 windows are too close like in the picture shown to the left. It could also be that the window is too close to a chimney, the corner of the house or even a porch post. Whatever the reason there are usually a few ways to work around this.

Functional Exterior Shutters or Decorative Only
The first thing you need to decide is how you will use your exterior shutters. Do you plan to install your exterior shutters on hinges, so that you can open and close them for storm protection or even for routine house maintenance? Or maybe you will bolt them to your house as decorative shutters only. If your exterior shutters will be for decoration only then not having enough room is not a major issue. With decorative shutters you can always go with narrower shutters to fit the wall space that you have.

If your exterior shutters will be functional you really will need to make sure that they can open and close without hitting anything. A good way to test this is to cut out a piece of cardboard to the size of your shutters? Next, go to any widows that you think might be tight for room and just pretend it is on hinges while you “open” and “close” the cardboard a few times to check for clearance.

Bifold Shuttersexterior shutters next to a chimney
If there is not enough room for shutters on both sides of your window one way to work around this is to hinge your exterior shutters together as bifolds. So instead of having 1 shutter on either side of the window you will have 2 shutters on one side only. You can see an example of this in the picture at the top. A Bifold application is also a great way to mount exterior shutters to cover a bay window.

Leaning Shutters
Some times the exterior shutters are so close to a chimney or where a wall takes a 90° turn to lay flat. It is traditionally accepted to hinge the shutters like normal and have the shutter on one side just lean against the obstruction. If you look carefully at the picture at top you will see the base support for chimney on the left hand side. To give you a better overall view the picture to the right is of the entire side of the house.

exterior shutters on a gable windowExterior Shutters on Gable Windows
With gable windows there is often not enough wall space for the full shutter to lay flat. There are 2 straight forwards ways to handle this layout. Like the picture to the left you can hinge your shutters like normal and just accept the fact that they will hang out a little bit. The alternate way is to mount the shutters at the top with hardware designed for Bahama shutters.

If you are still unsure how best to size or mount your shutters so that they can open and close, please ask us. Give us a call, send us an email or start an online chat. We are happy to help.


Aluminum Hurricane Shutters

Aluminum Hurricane Shutters

Hurricane Shutters
When it comes to Hurricane Shutters you need to know that they will indeed stand up to, well, a hurricane. Your Hurricane Shutters will be that first line of defense that keeps your windows, and the inside of your home, intact. To make sure that Hurricane Shutters will indeed stand up to their name the State of Florida requires independent testing and review by a Florida licensed professional engineer. Once they have verified that the shutters will indeed withstand a hurricane the product is approved.

What is the HVHZ?
While hurricanes strike all over the country, those with the highest winds hit Florida in the Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. These make up the High Velocity Hurricane Zone also known as HVHZ. Some hurricane shutters are strong enough to be approved for use within the HVHZ while others are not as durable and can only be used for hurricane protection outside the HVHZ.

I know that I need Hurricane Shutters. Now what?
When you are ready to add hurricane shutters to your home or business a good first step is to check with your insurance company. They will be able to give you any requirements for you location. When you are talking with a retailer of hurricane shutters here is some information that you will want to check.

FL# – This is the application number. It will start with “FL” and then the application numbers. When there are revisions there will be an “.R” afterwards with the revision number. Revisions can be a change in the design of the hurricane shutters or even a change in the way they are installed. It is important to note the revisions as while one might have passed another might not have.

Application Status – Just because there is an application does not mean the the shutters were approved. The Application Status will let you know whether these exterior shutters have been approved or not.

Limits of Use – This is the part to which you will need to pay special attention. This section will tell you if the shutters have been approved in the HVHZ or only approved in the rest of Florida but NOT the HVHZ. It will also give you the design pressure and let you know if they are impact resistant. You can sometimes also find size restrictions here.

Description – Here you can also find size restrictions for the hurricane shutters.

Installation Instructions – On the application report there will be a link to a PDF that gives the approved installation instructions. This is a very important section to read through. Even if your exterior shutters are approved for hurricane protection they will only perform properly if you install them as shown in the instructions.

When you are looking at a retailer for hurricane shutters make sure that they can provide you with all of this information, for the safety of your home and family.

You can follow this link for more information on our HVHZ approved Hurricane Shutters.

Kestrel Shutters & Doors was recommended for our interior and exterior shutters in a recent article on the Martha Stewart website. You can read the article here – Inspiration: Shutters – Home Design with Kevin Sharkey.

Thank you Mr Sharkey!