The Ultimate Buying Guide: Plantation Shutters

1- Consider the type of material:

Plantation shutters are typically made of wood, vinyl, or composite materials. Wood is the most traditional and elegant choice, while vinyl and composite are more affordable and durable.


Wood is a popular choice for plantation shutters because of its natural beauty and versatility. It can be stained or painted to match any decor style and is available in a variety of wood species, such as basswood, poplar, knotty alder, pine and MDF. Other types of hardwood like oak and maple are possible, but significantly more expensive.  We will only address the six most common wood options.

1. Basswood

The #1 material of choice for solid wood interior plantation shutters is basswood. It’s light, flexible, strong and stable. Forgiving to forces placed on it, and not so hard on hinges and other hardware. Shutters made from basswood can be opened and closed thousands of times and still work as good as they day they were purchased. Basswood has a warm tint and plays are highly receptive to stains, finishes, and paints.

2. Poplar

Yellow poplar is another popular solid wood choice is poplar. It is slightly more durable than basswood but heavier. It has hardness of 540 pounds while Basswood has a hardness of 410 pounds, which makes poplar more resistant to dents and scratches, but likely not enough to justify the extra weight. If you like the heavier stiffer feel, then poplar can feel higher quality, but this needs to be compared to the lower cost basswood.

3. Knotty Alder

Knotty alder is a hardwood that can be a substitute for pine. It has a light brown base tone making it browner in appearance than knotty pine. It is also stronger and more durable. When people search for natural wood shutters, knotty alder is likely what they are looking for, and it is a great option.

4. Pine

Pine is a softwood prone to twisting, and creates an all-natural, hardy, light-yellow pine look for your shutters, which has no real substitute. As mentioned earlier though you may be just as happy if not happier with Knotty Alder. For a low-cost lightweight option made from a highly renewable resource, pine just may be for you.

If you are on the fence, it should be noted that pine is not as durable as most hardwoods. It can be prone to warping or splitting if exposed to moisture or changes in temperature. It is more susceptible to dents and scratches. The wood grain in pine may not be as consistent as other woods, leading to a less uniform appearance from shutter to shutter – which may be bonus, depending on the look you are going for. Generally it requires more frequent maintenance or refinishing to maintain its appearance and longevity.

If you want a painted look, then pine should not be chosen.

5. MDF

Medium-Density Fiberboard can be a good choice for painted, not stained interior plantation shutters because it is a stable, low-cost material that is easy to work. MDF is made from wood fibers and resin (glue) that are compressed under high pressure, resulting in a dense, uniform board that is resistant to warping and splitting.

However, MDF is prone to swelling and warping when exposed to moisture. Additionally, MDF is heavier and not as durable as solid wood. It easily chips and dents, and due to its weight will sag overtime.

A moisture-resistant sealing can be used to help avoid exposure to excessive humidity or impact, but due to its weight alone, MDF will simply not stand the test of time.

If getting the cheapest possible shutter is your primary goal, then MDF is a good option. Nonetheless, it would be wise to still get a quote for a solid wood option from a local regional manufacturer, just to be sure.

6. Plywood

plywood is sometimes used for interior shutters, particularly for those on a tight budget. Plywood is made from layers of wood veneer glued together, which makes it strong, stable, and resistant to warping and cracking. It is a cost-effective alternative to solid wood and can be stained or painted to match any decor.

However, plywood is not as durable or long-lasting as other materials such as wood, composite, vinyl, or faux wood. It may also have visible seams or layers that can detract from the overall appearance of the shutters. Therefore, it is not as commonly used as other materials for plantation shutters.

When considering using plywood for interior shutters, it’s important to keep in mind that the quality of the plywood can vary greatly. Higher quality plywood will have fewer voids and defects, resulting in a smoother and more consistent finish. Additionally, the plywood should be sealed and finished properly to ensure its durability and longevity.

Plywood is the last material of choice that should be considered.


Composite plantation shutters are made from a combination of wood and synthetic materials, such as PVC or MDF (medium-density fiberboard). They offer the look of wood shutters at a lower cost and are resistant to moisture, warping, and fading. Composite shutters are easy to maintain and come in a range of colors and finishes.

Polywood shutters are a brand name composite shutter that has become quite popular.  And for good reason, as it does a fairly good job of including the benefits of plastic an wood, while also creating a nice insulating factor to the home which can help reduce energy costs.


Vinyl plantation shutters are a budget-friendly option that is durable, easy to clean, and resistant to moisture and fading. They are available in a range of colors and are a good choice for high-humidity areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

This is a really great option for high-humidity areas if you opt for painted shutters.  The vinyl and basswood shutters, for example, will look identical.

Faux Wood:

Faux wood plantation shutters are made from synthetic materials that mimic the look and texture of real wood. They are resistant to moisture and humidity, making them ideal for use in bathrooms and other damp areas. Faux wood shutters are also less expensive than real wood shutters but offer a similar look.

2- Measure your windows:

Accurate measurements are crucial for a perfect fit. Measure the height and width of your windows at three points – top, middle, and bottom – and take the smallest measurement.

Having a professional take the shutter measurements for you can often be done at no additional cost.

National brands and Big Box stores typically use a middle company to perform the measurement installation. This involves installing pre-sized shutters into  customers’ window casings, which are never perfectly rectangular or square.

Regardless of your location you can find a regional player that does it all, including taking all the measurements for you, manufacturing the shutters for a perfect fit, and include installation.  Then offer a lifetime warranty, where any future service and repairs are completed at no cost.  By doing this you support a local business, and typically get a much higher quality end product, better warranties and at a lower cost.

3- Choose the right louvre size:

Louvers are the horizontal slats that make up the shutters. Larger louvers allow more light and view, while smaller ones offer more privacy and control over light.

The width options for shutter louvers can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific product. However, typically the width options for shutter louvers range from 1 7/8 inches to 5 1/2 inches. Some manufacturers may offer additional sizes within this range or even outside of it. The most common sizes are 2 1/2 inches, 3 1/2 inches, and 4 1/2 inches. The size you choose depends on your personal preference, the size of your windows, and the amount of light and privacy you want. Larger louvers let in more light and provide a better view, while smaller louvers offer more privacy and light control.

4- Determine the mounting method:

Plantation shutters can be mounted inside the window frame or outside. Inside mount is ideal for a sleek, integrated look, while outside mount works better for windows that have limited depth or unusual shapes.

Mounting plantation shutters can be done either inside the window frame or outside the window casing. Here are the pros and cons of each option:

Inside Mount

  • Provides a clean and streamlined look, as the shutters fit snugly inside the window frame.
  • Maximizes the amount of glass that is visible, making the windows look larger and allowing more natural light into the room.
  • The shutters can be easily removed for cleaning or painting, without having to remove the entire frame.
  • Requires accurate measurements to ensure a proper fit, as any mismeasurements can result in gaps or misalignments.
  • May not be possible if the window frame is too shallow or has obstructions, such as handles or cranks.
  • May not be suitable for irregularly shaped windows, such as arches or circles.

Outside Mount

  • Allows for greater flexibility in terms of window size and shape, as the shutters can be mounted to the wall or casing instead of inside the frame.
  • Covers any imperfections or gaps around the window casing, creating a more finished look.
  • Provides better light and privacy control, as the shutters can be made larger and extend beyond the window opening.
  • Can look bulky and may not be as aesthetically pleasing as an inside mount.
  • May be more challenging to install, as it requires drilling into the wall or casing.
  • Can make the windows look smaller and block more natural light.

In summary, the choice between inside and outside mount depends on personal preference, the window’s size and shape, and the overall style of the room. An inside mount provides a clean and streamlined look but requires accurate measurements, while an outside mount offers greater flexibility but can look bulkier.

5- Consider the tilt mechanism:

There are two options you can choose. First, whether you want - split tilt rods, or single tilt rods? The second option to select is whether you want the tilt mechanism for your plantation shutters to be – traditional or hidden? Each of these four types have pros and cons, and you can do a combination, using different shutter tilt rod designs in different rooms.

Mounting plantation shutters can be done either inside the window frame or outside the window casing. Here are the pros and cons of each option:

Traditional tilt rods

Traditional tilt rods are visible and attached to the front of the shutters, while hidden tilt rods are concealed on the back of the panels.

Split tilt rods

Instead of a single tilt rod that controls all the louvers at once, split tilt uses two separate tilt rods – one for the top louvers and one for the bottom louvers.

With split tilt, you can adjust the top and bottom louvers independently to let in the right amount of light and privacy. For example, you can open the top louvers to let in natural light while keeping the bottom louvers closed for privacy. Or you can close the top louvers to block out direct sunlight while opening the bottom louvers to allow some light and air to flow in.

Split tilt is a popular option for bedrooms, bathrooms, and other areas where privacy and light control are important. It allows you to customize the amount of light and privacy for each part of the window, giving you greater flexibility and control over your living space.

6- Decide on the color and finish:

Plantation shutters come in a variety of colors and finishes, so choose one that complements your home's décor. White is the most popular color, but other options include stained wood, painted wood, and custom colors.

If you already have shutters, and want to replace or add a few matching shutters, then color matching should be easy to do for a regional custom shutter manufacturer.  Quality made shutters are typically made of a solid light wood like basswood. If they are, they should last a lifetime, and a new coating of paint may be all you need to make your shutters look new again.

7- Research the warranty and installation process:

Make sure you understand the warranty and installation process before making a purchase. Look for a company that offers a good warranty and has experienced installers. As mentioned earlier – quality made shutters should last a lifetime or longer.

8- Check the company's reputation:

Do your research on the company before buying plantation shutters.

Look for reviews from other customers and check the company’s credentials and certifications.

9- Consider energy efficiency:

Plantation shutters can help insulate your home and reduce energy costs. Look for shutters with insulating properties, such as wood or composite materials.

These may even result in a federal tax credit, depending on the current energy efficiency incentives being offered.

10- Get a professional consultation:

If you're unsure about what type of plantation shutters to choose or need help with measurements, consider getting a professional consultation.

A qualified expert can help you make the best decision for your home and budget.


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