No-paint plastic shutters sit there and look pretty


April 23, 1994|By Gene Austin | Gene Austin,Knight-Ridder News Service

Molded window shutters are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to give a spring dressing-up to the exterior of a house.

The shutters, made of durable plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrane, are available in many colors at home centers and building-supply dealers.

Colors are generally molded into the plastic so there is no peeling or chipping of paint -- a constant problem with old wood shutters. Many plastic shutters can be painted if a certain color is desired, however.

In deference to custom, most plastic shutters have a wood-grain pattern molded into the finish. When viewed from a few feet away, it is difficult to distinguish a wood-grained plastic shutter from a freshly painted wood shutter.

Molded shutters are purely decorative. They are fastened in place with screws but, unlike hinged shutters, cannot be closed over the windows for protection or privacy.

Molded shutters are made in two basic styles, one with horizontal louvers, the other with raised panels.

Louvered shutters are appropriate with most styles of houses. The louvers are molded in a partly open position so they cast attractive shadow lines on sunlit days.

Raised-panel shutters, with decorative panels similar to the raised panels on many doors, are best suited to Colonial-styled houses.

Some manufacturers make shutters to fit various window depths, but offer only one width. For example, shutters in Georgia-Pacific's new Savannah line are 14 inches wide, while depths range from 27 to 80 inches.

Shutters in 14-inch or 15-inch widths, the sizes most often carried in stock by home centers and other dealers, look fine on standard windows with a 28-inch or 30-inch width, and don't appear out of place even on somewhat wider windows.

However, narrow shutters can have an incongruous appearance if used to flank a 6-foot-wide picture window, as they sometimes are. A few shutter manufacturers make shutters in widths of up to 18 inches, and as narrow as 12 inches. Dealers will often special-order shutters in these sizes.

Two or more narrow shutters can also be bolted together side-by-side to create a wider shutter panel.

Prices of molded shutters vary with size, style and manufacturer. Typical 14-by-47-inch louvered shutters usually cost between $25 and $30 a pair. Raised-panel shutters are usually slightly more expensive.

Before buying shutters, be sure to measure the windows. Ideally, each shutter panel should be half the width of the window's outside frame and a few inches shorter than the frame's depth. Also compare manufacturers' warranties against cracking and warping of the shutters.

Follow installation instructions furnished with the shutters. The following procedure is typical: Place a shutter beside the window and mark positions for screw holes on the shutter. On masonry such as bricks, place the holes so the screws will enter mortar joints. On wood or other types of non-masonry siding, position holes so the screws will enter the thickest part of the siding.

Drill 3/16-inch holes through the shutter for the screws. Put the shutter back beside the window and mark the hole positions on the siding by inserting an awl or nail through the shutter holes.

For an installation on masonry, drill 1/4 -inch holes 2 inches deep into the masonry. Insert plastic anchors or sleeves into the holes to provide extra grip for the screws. Reposition the shutter, insert the screws, and drive the screws into place. The screws should be snug but not overtight.

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