White shutters have been fashionable window furnishings for the past 15 years. We have embraced the minimalist look and the relaxed mood of shutters. They are a high ticket item and a long term investment so it's worth considering what you are paying for.
Most shutters sold are white and are not all made from top grade timbers as they used to be. Today they are available in:
- Premium solid timber such as Canadian Western Red Cedar (WRC)
- Fast grown woods such as Basswood, Palawnia and Phoenix Wood (Chinese Parasol Tree)
- Wood composites - MDF and craftwood
- Laminated and jointed wood off cuts
- Plastics - PVC, polymers, Thermalite and LaPlayer
All white shutters look alike, so how do we know whats the best to choose? Here is what you need to consider...
This is best for outside for shading on the outside of windows or privacy for outdoor rooms. When a high quality powdercoat finish is used these will last up to 10 years. They need to be kept clean to get the best life span. Aluminium is not suitable inside windows for reducing heat as aluminium is a good conductor of heat. I don't classify this as a green product because it uses a lot of energy to produce and is not biodegradable. In fact it takes 200 times more energy to make aluminium for a shutter than to use cedar.
These are a cheap alternative and are best used in small openings as
they are very flexible. Material is thermoplastic and will be affected
by high temperatures. The material carries up to a 25 year warranty,
but this does not warranty against manufacturing faults, but simply that
the plastic will not rot or otherwise breakdown. Despite years of product development, even major brands struggle to produce a stable product from plastic. In April 2014 Luxaflex stopped making their wide panel shutters with 64mm plastic blades because they found some they had sold were becoming slightly bowed.
I don't classify plastic shutters as a green product because it uses a lot of energy to produce and is not biodegradable.
Laminated and jointed wood off cuts
Unfortunately, most "solid wood" shutters sold in Australia today aren't what you they claim to be. Chinese made products use cheap materials. The finished product looks good and is very economical but be aware beauty may only be skin deep. There is no knowing what is under the paint - what timbers have been glued together, are there cracks and splits, what glues have been used? Thick primer/undercoats are used to cover the timber variations, fill joints, cracks, splits, gum veins and knots. Then a lusturous final coat gives the look of a fine crafted product. I have serious questions about using a product with so many unknown variables in my home. See which brands are made in China.
Traditionally this material is used for cupboard doors. It is heavy, not very stong and will absorb moisture. There are controls on Australian produced material as far as toxic glues and additives are concerned, but these controls are not implemented overseas. This should make for cheap shutters, and there is every chance they will need to be replaced sooner than plastic, aluminium or solid wood.
Fast grown woods
These are often sold as premium solid timber products, painted or stained. They will insulate and you could reasonably expect them to last longer than wood composites, some plastics and laminated and jointed products. Research has not given me a lot of confidence in the management of the forests, the stability and longevity of these woods.
Canadian Western Red Cedar
This is the premium material for shutters. Cedar will last for generations, has the highest insulation rating of all window shutters and the timber is environmentally friendly. Western Red Cedar comes from eco sustainable forests. This ia a beautiful timber which can be left natural, but is generally finished in fashion paint colours. Australia's leading manufacturers use this as their preferred timber. Do not confuse these productes with laminated or engineered cedar products.