POSTED: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 4:43pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 12:13pm
Plantation shutters are a type of interior window blind. They traditionally feature slats of wood (louvers) mounted within a solid wood frame. Plantation shutters have a rod in the center that allows for adjustment of the louvers to opened or closed positions. Often the shutters are hinged, allowing the shutter to be folded back either partially or completely.
The use of plantation shutters can be traced back  to the Middle Ages where they were installed in homes that had window openings, but no glass. These shutters were opened in warm weather to allow for the circulation of fresh air; and were closed in cold or wet weather.
When Europeans moved into the American south and the Caribbean, they decided these shutters were perfect for that climate. They were especially popular with plantation owners, thus their new name.
Plantation shutters are multi-purpose interior window coverings. They allow for an adjustable flow of air, and an adjustable amount of light, entering a room. They provide privacy. They provide shade, which helps keep interiors cool when outside temperatures climb. Additionally, they add an additional layer of insulation against outside cold. They are a versatile and highly desirable decorative touch.
Many plantation shutters are designed with a divider rail that extends horizontally. This divider allows the top and bottom louvers to be adjusted separately. This feature is particularly desirable in bathrooms; allowing the bottom louvers to be closed for privacy, while the upper louvers are opened to allow air and light inside.
Plantation shutters may cover the entire window, or only the bottom portion. These are known as "café-style" and are often used in kitchens. Plantation shutters may be custom-made to fit non-traditional window sizes or shapes – such as triangular, half-circle or circular, and to fit around door knobs.
Wood is the traditional material used in plantation shutters; however, other materials are available. Shutters made of recycled composite materials are a good addition to a “green” home. Both wood and composite shutters can be painted to complement any décor, but composite material is often more durable and easier to clean.
Tips regarding the selection of plantation shutters:
- Avoid shutters made of pine. Regardless of the finish on these, pine is prone to oozing sap.
- Choose shutters with rabbeted edges where the center panels meet when closed. This will prevent gaps that allow light through and disrupt the clean, finished look of your plantation shutters.
- In order to avoid possible warping of the interior panels, select shutters with side rails that are at least 1.5 inches thick.
- Look for shutters with tension adjustment screws. This will allow readjustment if the louvers should begin to droop.
- Select shutters with mortised hinges. This type of hinge is more aesthetically pleasing when bi-fold panels are viewed from the outside, and for shutters installed inside a window frame.
Plantation shutters will add a look of classic beauty to your home’s interior. Additionally, the look achieved with matching shutters in all windows on the front of your house will greatly increase its curb appeal.