22 Sep

Can I purchase and install external operational window shutters in the UK?

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External window shutters are a popular feature on many homes all over the world and available in varying types and styles depending on the country. In countries like Spain, France, Italy and Greece the exterior shutters you see are traditionally made from wood and are functional so they can be opened and closed. In the UK window shutters are mostly decorative and do not open and close.

So why do some countries have functional shutters and others have decorative?

Well, quite simply countries in warmer climates use external, operational shutters to provide shade to keep out heat during hotter weather, and for storm protection. They also look good. Windows on houses in Mediterranean countries tend to be taller, narrower and have deeper recesses. This is ideal for shutters that provide shade and protection, and as the windows more commonly open inwards makes using shutters a lot easier.

In the UK weather conditions are more temperate so external window shutters are mostly used for decoration. Also, window configuration in the UK is not ideal for functional shutters as windows tend to be wider, have shallower recesses and open outwards that makes it impossible to have the windows open and to operate the shutters at the same time.

Does this mean I cannot get fully functional shutters in the UK?

At present there are not many companies in the UK, that specialise exclusively in external, operational window shutters. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible to source this kind of shutter, it is just a little bit trickier.

Before you consider searching for and purchasing external operational shutters there are some things you need to consider.

  1. What is the depth/size of the recess of your window?

To establish if your windows can accommodate operational shutters you will need to measure the depth of the recess of your window. This measurement is important as it will determine if you can close shutters level to the wall. Not only that, but also to be able to lock the shutters from the inside of the house there must be sufficient clearance between the window and the inside face of the shutter to fix locking bolts.

If the recess is very shallow (i.e. hardly any depth at all) you will not be able to fit shutters that close flush to the wall. In this case the shutters will have to be longer than the window reveal and mounted so that the shutter close to cover the window.

Top of roof of house showing closed window on first floor.
Photo by Jack Barton on Unsplash

2. Do your windows open outwards?

If the answer to this question is yes, please bear in mind that you will not be able to close the shutters with the windows open and vice versa. In this case the only way to operate the shutters will be from the outside and you will need to ask yourself how often you will actually do this before you tire of doing so. Additionally, how will you deal with shutters that are not fitted to ground floor windows?

Another potential option is to purchase shutters that fix in place to cover the window until you wish to remove them. For example, you can install shutters in the summer and uninstall them in the winter. The shutters can be screwed to the wall to stop them from rattling. The obvious disadvantage is that the windows will have to remain closed.

Close up of open window with white frame
Photo by Mona Eendra on Unsplash

Can I buy external, operational shutters from Simply Shutters?

Because of the reasons mentioned earlier, Simply Shutters specialise in the manufacture and sale of external, decorative window shutters that are used for ornamental purposes only. However, we also manufacture shutters that can be used operationally.

`Town & Country Redwood shutters are handcrafted in our own workshops by our skilled carpenters and sturdily built from joinery grade Scandinavian Redwood. Available in a number of different styles, this range is principally designed for decorative use but by upgrading the frame profile to strengthen the shutters they can be used operationally.

Things to consider when purchasing Town & Country Redwood shutters for operational use:


Town & Country Redwood shutters are handmade with each individual shutter built to your exact requirements. Increasing the frame profile to strengthen the shutters involves an additional 20% surcharge to cover this. If you are working to a tight budget, it is important to consider that operational shutters may cost more than you think, particularly when shutter hardware and added installation costs are taken into account


At present we are only able to offer operational shutters built from wood. We do not recommend that Town & Country Synthetic shutters be used for any installation other than decorative use.

Scandinavian Redwood pine with pink hue.


We have nine styles to choose from in the Town & Country Redwood range that can be upgraded and purchased for operational use. However, one thing to consider is because this range was designed for decorative use, the back of the shutters will not look as pretty as the front.

Front and back of a Town & Country Redwood shutter in style - The Kensington.


Most styles in this range are 35 mm thick. If you want the shutters to sit flush to the wall, you need to allow for the thickness of the shutter to make sure the window reveal is deep enough. You’ll also need to allow space for locking bolts so these do not hit the window when the shutters are closed.

Size Required

As we are a supply only company and do not offer a measuring and installation service you will need to provide us with accurate measurements for us to build the shutters to fit.


It is best to measure from the outside of the window. Measure from the top of the window reveal (the lintel) down to the bottom of the reveal or top of the windowsill. You need to take three measurements for both the height and width i.e. for the width the top, the middle, and the bottom. And for the height the left side, the middle, and the right side – see diagram). Use the smallest measurement of the three to get your required dimensions.  

For the shutters to open and close smoothly you must allow clearance so the shutters do not rub against the wall or adjacent shutter. Deduct 3mm per gap to allow clearance. So, for 2 shutters allow 3 gaps (left, middle, right) of 3mm each. The same applies for the height, so deduct 5mm from the overall height measurement to provide clearance.

If you have a shallow recess and want to install your shutters to the outside of the reveal, the shutters will need to be wider and taller than the reveal opening so that they close to the wall. In this situation, as there is nothing above the shutter to slide a locking bolt into you will need to install a frame around the shutters to accept the locking the bolts.


At present Simply Shutters does not stock hardware for shutters and this is something you will need to obtain independently. There are plenty of hardware companies that can be found online with a quick web search.

Should you struggle to find suitable hardware, we may be able to assist you by sourcing from a USA based supplier. A catalogue can be provided upon request so you can view the hardware options available. We quote separately for this service. Please note the cost of flying the hardware over to the UK is included as are customs clearance and import duty charges are added.

Decorative Hinges mounted onto an installed Town & country Synthetic shutter

As we are coming to terms with the impact climate change, and with the recent extreme hot weather we have experienced, it is easy to see why the demand for external, operational shutters has dramatically increased. Unfortunately, as most windows are not made to accept operational shutters there is no easy fix, particularly as the UK does not have a standard window size to make mass production an option. This means that each and every shutter has to be made to order and this take time. As the climate changes, more and more new homes will be built to accept shutters that will open and close, but we are not there yet.

About Claire Tibbitts

Claire Tibbitts

When it comes to subjects about shutters and louvre doors Claire is passionate about creating interesting and informative articles. If you need advice or inspiration on a shutter or louvre door related subject send us a message and Claire will try her best to help!

If you need advice or have any questions about shutters or louvre doors contact our team on: sales@simplyshutters.co.uk
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