Plantation Shutters

by John Gresh

Ask anyone who owns plantation shutters why they chose them over blinds, shades or draperies, and you will undoubtedly get a variety of reasons. They may point out their insulating qualities, ability to control light, how easy they are to clean, durability, flexibility in matching any d├ęcor, or the fact that they simply make the room look great. It is this versatility and the “wow” factor that has made Plantation shutters the most sought after window treatment of the past two decades.

The origin of these classic window coverings dates to the 19th century, when they were actually used in the harsh environment of tropical plantations. Now, they are used in almost any room in the home and lend themselves equally to both contemporary and traditional motifs.

Increasingly, consumers are seeing the financial benefits of owning plantation shutters. Most window coverings have a relatively short life cycle, since they wear out or are trend-oriented. Quality shutters, on the other hand, have a life cycle of 10 to 20 years and can also be repainted to make them look virtually new.
Perhaps the most interesting trend regarding shutters is that the real-estate industry has begun recognizing the value interior shutters add to a home. Home appraisers are likely to include shutters when evaluating a home— making them a real return on investment for owners.

For the consumer, the popularity of shutters has increased the available options in terms of materials, quality and price. The old axiom, “you get what you pay for,” usually applies. Buyers should do their homework and compare the quality of the construction as well as the professionalism and experience of the dealers and their installers. Good dealers will be happy to allow prior customers to speak for them, so if someone is reluctant to provide references: run.
For years, wood has been the material of choice in constructing shutters, and it still is. Hardwoods, such as basswood, poplar and alder have been the most common, given their light weight and resistance to warping and shrinkage. As for quality, you’ll want to compare the joints, thickness of the materials, and overall fit and finish. Matching your shutters to your trim is the key to achieving a truly custom look, so your dealer should provide custom-color matching at little or no charge.

While wood has been king, synthetic shutters are making a huge dent in the market. Their low maintenance, moisture resistance and energy efficiency have made them very popular with today’s consumer. The difference in materials used in synthetic shutters varies greatly and requires a little more investigation. Additional materials can range from hollow vinyl, to medium-density fibreboard wrapped with vinyl, to solid polymers. Bottom line: Vinyl shutters are generally a lower-price option and will have the look and feel of plastic. They are more likely to sag and yellow over time. The solid polymers, or extruded materials, are designed to look like wood. They can be custom painted and used in arches and other specialty shapes. Ideally, you would like to find dealers that offer both products so they can help you decide what will work best for your particular situation
John Gresh is the owner of Perfect Fit Custom Shutters in Gaithersburg

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