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Your Guide to Buying Exterior Decorative Shutters

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You've decided to put external, decorative shutters on your home. You might already have an idea of what you are looking for or be puzzled on where to start. Don't worry, we are here to help you with our in-depth guide to buying exterior shutters.

What are external, decorative shutters?

External, decorative shutters are installed next to your windows in as fixed position and do not open and close. They are primarily for decoration and adding what is commonly termed as 'kerb appeal' to your property.

Why decorative shutters?

Many windows in the UK open away from the building and are not recessed. This makes fitting shutters that open and close very difficult indeed. In many cases, homeowners still wanted the added character that shutters provide so the popularity of decorative shutters steadily began to grow,

Before glass was invented shutters were used to keep out the weather and for security, so shutters are an historical and traditional feature. The introduction of glass to windows didn't mean the decline of using window shutters. In fact, shutters both functional and decorative remain a very popular feature on homes worldwide, and it is easy to see why.

Mediterranean countries generally have functional shutters fitted to their windows to provide shade against the hot weather. Properties in cooler countries don't need this same level of solar protection but shutters might still be required for storm protection and security.

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What are external, decorative shutters made from?

It is widely accepted that earlier variations of external window shutters were generally made from wood as it is easily sourced, relatively cheap in comparison to other materials and easy to work with.

However, as the shutter industry has evolved so have the materials used to manufacture them. Plastic, commonly referred to as UPVC, is one of the more popular choices in today's modern times with UPVC windows in particular being a standard feature on a large number of properties. The same applies to doors, guttering, fascia and soffits as well as gates and fencing in some cases so why not have plastic shutters too?

There are a great many variations of style and materials used in the construction of shutters one of the most popular being plastics such as Polypropylene.


Polypropylene is the same material that plastic buckets and garden furniture is made from. It is an infinitely recyclable material so it can be recycled repeatedly. What was once a garden chair could later in life become a beautiful pair of window shutters.

As well as being flame retardant, lightweight, and durable Polypropylene shutters also contain Ti02 (Titanium Dioxide) to prevent undue fading. In addition, the material also has a woodgrain finish to give it a more authentic wooden appearance and to ensure the shutters do not look shiny and overtly 'plastic' in appearance.

Synthetic Wood Shutters

material used to manufacture external, decorative shutters is a plastic material we refer to as 'Synthetic Wood' Shutters. Exclusive to Simply Shutters' Town & country range 'Synthetic Wood' is made from a blend of polymers that looks, weighs, and feels like wood but is in fact not timber. If you put a painted wooden shutter and a painted Town & Country Synthetic shutter next to each other you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between them.

Synthetic wood shutters are maintenance free and will not rot over time. Town & Country Synthetic shutters do not have a wood grain finish to them and are smooth in appearance so look exactly like a handmade, hand painted shutter except that there is no general periodic maintenance to keep them looking good.

Scandinavian Redwood Shutters

Scandinavian Redwood is a slow grown pine. It is slow grown from the forest of northern Scandinavia where the cold temperature limits the growth of the trees. Being slow grown means the cell structure of Scandinavian Redwood is much denser/ tighter together than common white pine variants found on the high street and therefore weathers much better as a consequence.

Because of dense cell structure the timber absorbs less moisture and is therefore better able to withstand the elements if properly weatherproofed / treated. It is called Redwood because of the pinkish hue that the wood has and is in no way connected to the giant Redwood trees found in western regions of north America,

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What styles of external, decorative shutter are available?


The most popular style of external, decorative shutters is the louvred shutter. This style is generally made with open louvres to promote airflow and is available in a number of different style options such as cathedral top, straight top, centre mullion and offset mullion. Other variations might have the louvre blades protruding through the face of the shutter being a classic 1930s design.

Extrawide Louvre options are also available for those customers that require wider shutters. Should louvre blades be made too long / wide there is a risk that they will sag over time. To prevent this from happening a centre support rib is used that gives the finished shutter a bi-fold appearance (i.e. two shutters side by side). We call this style Extrawide.

Board & Batten

Another popular style is the rustic Board & Batten style with Joined Board, Spaced Board, Z bar and Country Panel options. This simple tongue and groove design consists of vertical and horizontal battens and is a particular favourite for those wishing to create a more rustic/ rural feel to their homes but will look good on both country cottages as more modern homes.

Contemporary Style

In addition to the more Traditional Louvre and Board and Batten styles you also have the choice of more contemporary designs. These include a modern take on the traditional louvre shutter. Instead of the louvre blades being laid horizontally across the shutter this modern twist positions the blades in a diagonal fixed position There are also shutter styles with horizontal louvre blades that are not angled in the normal way but vertically positioned and available with or without spaces between the blades.

Custom Panel Window Shutters

For the homeowner who is looking for a different appearance there is the Custom Panel range of decorative exterior UPVC plastic shutters. The Custom Panel range contains a variety of different panel styles to suit just about every taste.

Historically, panel shutters were very popular where security was a primary concern as they formed a solid barrier across the window or doorway and therefore were much stronger than louvred shutters. However, in hotter climates where airflow was desired, particularly during hot humid nights, the combination louvre-panel shutter was the preferred choice as the lower section was panel with the top section of the shutter being louvred. This arrangement provided both security and airflow.

Vacuum Formed Window Shutters

During the 1960's and 1970's the plastics industry was nowhere near as advanced as the industry is today. 50 or 60 years ago the only decorative shutters on the market were made of timber or of a plastic material called ABS. More about Older Style Window Shutters....

Please note: Custom Panel, and Marbella vacuum formed shutters have been discontinued and are no longer available at Simply shutters.

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What colours are available?

Decorative UPVC Polypropylene shutters are available in a number of different colours with the colour being within and throughout the material itself and not a coating.

Polypropylene shutters cannot be painted. However, there is a paintable option for those clients wishing to match to an existing colour scheme. Paintable UPVC shutters are made from a material called Styrene. The paintable option, once painted will not require constant repainting because the material will not rot or absorb moisture so there is nothing to get underneath the paint to lift it.

We have made every effort to ensure colour representations displayed on the website are as accurate as possible. However, because each one of us might have different monitor settings there is no guarantee that what you are seeing is what we want you to see. Colour chips are sent out upon request and are a true representation of the colour and woodgrain finish of the material,

Town & Country Synthetic shutters are available in either white semi-gloss, satin black or in a primed white or grey finish for those clients who wish to apply their own topcoat. Additionally, there is a custom colour painting service where the shutters are finished in a colour of your choice.

Town & Country Redwood shutters are supplied unpainted. This keeps the cost down and allows the customer to add their own value by painting or staining the shutters to their own requirements.

Why Choose Paintable Shutters?

Paintable shutters. Why would you choose to paint your new shutters when you have a choice of 17 different (but non paintable) colours to choose from?

Paintable shutters offer a flexibility that our ready coloured polypropylene shutters cannot. For example, should you wish to change the colour of the shutters in the future you cannot overpaint the ready coloured options because the paint, once dry, will not adhere and will peel off.

Paintable shutters allow you to not only choose the exact colour that you are after but offers you the flexibility to change the colour should you wish to whilst giving you an authentic painted appearance. Additionally, should you live in a period or older style of property you might not want shutters that are seen to be made of a plastic material. With the paintable option you only see the painted finish, the material the shutter is made from is hidden from view. The benefit over wooden shutters is that the styrene material will not rot or decay and, as moisture cannot get underneath the paint to lift it, the shutters will stay painted although the paint may fade over time it should flake or peel off.

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How are external, decorative shutters manufactured?

Our range of polypropylene shutters are constructed using pre-manufactured component parts that are available in a number of pre-set width options. It is the width of these components that dictates the widths of shutters that we can make. Because of this they are only able to make shutters in a selection of predetermined widths although we can make to any height in 5mm / ¼” increments.

The shutters are constructed in what can best be described as a hollow box construction. Imagine a box with the rear face of the box removed so that you can put your hand in the back. The shutters look solid from the front, sides, top and bottom but when you turn them around and look at the shutter from the back you will be able see inside the shutter.

To manufacture Extrawide shutters, our carpenters will join two louvre components together using a vertical support rib down the middle. The finished shutters will end up looking like 2 shutters side by side. Overseas, this style is also called a Bahama shutter and is generally hinged from the top instead of the sides.

Whether you choose from the maintenance free Synthetic Wood or Scandinavian Redwood range, both options are built in exactly the same way where our skilled carpenters will cut, route, plane, chisel & sand the material to create a completely bespoke, handmade shutter.

Because we are not assembling a shutter from premanufactured component parts there are no restrictions on what we can build and therefore no restrictions with widths as with the Polypropylene shutter ranges. All Town & Country shutters can be built to exact size requirements.

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How do I measure for external, decorative window shutters?

Because the shutters are decorative and will not be opened or closed, they do not necessarily need to be half the width of the window. It is a common misconception that this is the case. We recommend a shutter width about third the width of the window but this is only a guide. You certainly do not want to overpower the window by having shutters too wide. The reverse is also a true but a lesser evil.

It is always best to approach choosing a suitable shutters width by assuming that the shutters will actually work. Shutters that are operational can also bifold so when opened they fold back on themselves. In this example, the shutters on view will only be ¼ the width of the window because the shutters that are folded behind are not seen. You therefore have a lot of flexibility to choose a width that will suit your windows and improve the look of your home.

Having said all that the choice of width you choose is personal preference and of course there are always exceptions to the rule. As a general rule of thumb, we advise to try to keep all the shutter widths uniform as this will give you a much cleaner overall appearance.

If you can't decide on what width of shutter to choose, one trick we suggest is to get some cardboard and cut it to your required size and position it next to your window. Have a friend on hand to hold the cardboard in place whilst you take a step back to see if the proposed shutter size looks in proportion. If not, resize until you are happy with the appearance.

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How do I install these shutters?

Both UPVC Polypropylene and Town & Country shutters are very easy to install. Any competent DIY'er or handyperson will be able to install them without issue. Screw fixings are supplied with the shutters to fix them to the wall by drilling through the face of the shutter and fixing into position.

Optional hidden bracket sets for Town & Country shutters only are available to install the shutters without the need to use face fixed screws. Hidden brackets sets use 'L' shaped colour matched aluminium brackets that secure the shutter to the wall above and below the shutter. Being colour matched to the shutter means that they are almost impossible to see.

Detailed installation instructions can be found by clicking on the links below.

Installation Instructions UPVC

Town & Installation Instructions

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Shop by category

Decorative UPVC Polypropylene

Town & Country Synthetic

Town & Country Redwood

How to Guides

How to tighten and secure Exterior Window shutters

Things to consider when measuring for decorative exterior shutters

How to choose the right colour scheme for your external shutters

What are the difference between screws and shutter spikes?

Using decorative shutters as a window covering

What styles of external shutters are available and will they suit my home?

Should I buy wood or plastic external decorative window shutters?

How to create a coastal look for your home

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