Plantation shutters

Add character to your home with this alternative to curtains.

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plantation shutters

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Windows are great for when you want to let in light or circulate the air around your home. But what about those moments when you want to shut the world out and enjoy a day to yourself. That's where plantation shutters can come in handy.

We've put together a guide of everything there is to know about installing plantation shutters so that you can go into the whole process with plenty of knowledge.

Why should I install plantation shutters?

Plantation shutters aren't just used to keep the light out, there are plenty of other benefits to having them installed in your home. Lots of people choose to install them from a stylistic point of view as well as a practical one. Plantation shutters also have monetary benefits. As well as acting as an added layer of insulation, helping to bring down energy bills, they can even add value to your home when it comes to selling up.

How much does it cost to install plantation shutters?

Plantation shutters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, which means you'll more than likely be able to find some that suit your budget. Depending on the material you choose, you can expect to pay the following for the shutter and its installation:

  • Budget: From $200 per square meter for vinyl shutters
  • Mid-range: $220 to $350 per square meter for polymer or faux wood shutters
  • High-range: $400 to $500 per square meter for hardwood or aluminium shutters

If you're buying the shutters separately, you'll need to consider a budget for the installation. Plantation shutters cost between $70 and $100 an hour to have installed by a professional.

How can I finance plantation shutters?

Plantation shutters aren't as costly as some other types of home renovations, which means you've got a lot of choices when it comes to financing the work.

  • Credit card. You may be able to fund your shutters cost using your credit card. This will depend on your credit card provider and your credit limit.
  • Personal loan. If your plantation shutters are part of a larger renovation, you may want to consider applying for a personal loan.
  • Mortgage finance. You'll need to talk to your mortgage lenders to find out if you can access your home equity or extra funds that you've put towards your mortgage using a redraw facility.

house with plantation shutters

The step by step process for installing plantation shutters

It's up to you whether you mount your plantation shutters yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. Either way, here are the steps you'll need to take.

  1. Measure your window and purchase the correct size shutters.
  2. Assemble the shutter frame using the manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Place your shutter frame on your window and loosely screw in the top of the frame.
  4. Adjust the shutter frame until it looks level and tighten the top screws.
  5. Tightly screw or drill in the side and bottom screws.
  6. Attach the shutter panels to the frame via its hinges. These will either slot or screw-in depending on the design.
  7. Check that the shutters open and close properly before covering the screws with a vanity sticker.

How long does it take to install plantation shutters?

It takes no more than an hour to install plantation shutters on one standard window. For non-standard window designs, such as bay windows, however, this may take up to three hours. If you're hoping to mount shutters on all of the windows in your home, allow at least one day for the job to be completed.

How to choose an installer

If you want a high-quality finish on the job, you'll need to put a bit of time and effort into choosing the right installer. You can do this by:

  • Collecting and comparing quotes from different companies
  • Finding reviews and testimonials from previous customers
  • Making sure the installer has experience fitting plantation shutters
  • Ensuring the tradesperson is covered for any accidents that occur on your property

How to find professionals to install plantation shutters

Most plantation shutter suppliers will also offer installation services, although be careful that they don't inflate the price. If you'd rather find an installer independently, try using online marketplaces like Airtasker, Oneflare or Hipages to connect to local businesses. Alternatively, a business directory like Whitepages can be a useful tool.

What questions should I ask an installer?

When you're gathering quotes from different companies, asking a few extra questions can help you to get a better feel for the company and the type of service they provide. These are a few questions worth asking:

  • What experience do you have working with plantation shutters?
  • Do you have a portfolio or any testimonials you can show me?
  • How long will it take to complete the job?
  • Can you provide an itemised quote for the job?
  • Do you provide a warranty or guarantee in case something goes wrong later on?

How to negotiate with an installer

Entering into negotiations is a great way to ensure you're getting the best price for the job. However, it's important to remember that tradespeople know the market well and won't work for an unfair price. Before you start negotiations with your installer, it's essential to be knowledgeable about the market too. This will allow you to go into the conversation with confidence and bargaining power.

Expert tips about plantation shutters

By Chris Stead, Finder's expert DIY and home renovations writer
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Are there any hidden costs associated with installing plantation shutters?

Shutters aren't overly complicated and are sturdily built features for your home, so there's not too much that can go wrong. Where you're most likely to run into surprise costs is with the cavity itself. If it's not level or doesn't have a solid build that can support the shutters, you may need to have a bit of carpentry done. Or if the cavity is quite large, then you may need more support across the shutter and more panels on the shutters themselves than you might have envisaged at first. This can increase the costs.

If you opt for wooden shutters, you'll likely find some ongoing upkeep costs in the form of painting or staining as they're hit by direct sunlight. You can also consider motorised shutters, which isn't so much a hidden cost, but more of a premium add-on that's hard to resist when it's presented to you. What's that you say? I can press this button on an app and everything opens up automatically?!

What to think about when installing plantation shutters yourself

Firstly, check with the supplier of the plantation shutters to find out what self-installation will do to your warranty. Chances are high it will void it, and shutters are surprisingly expensive. So keep that in mind.

If you decide to do DIY shutter installation there's four key things you want to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure the mounting surfaces – so top and bottom of your cavity - are level.
  2. Think hard about where your furniture will sit and how that may impact your ability to open and close the shutters as this may change where you fit the brackets.
  3. Ensure that you fix off the brackets securely, so the shutters don't have any shake in them whatsoever.
  4. Use stainless steel fixings unless the shutters are internal and near a window that cannot be opened.

What size shutters and how many panels should you go for?

When it comes to shutter size, there's two things to think about. One is look; the size difference creates a very different feel. Small shutters on big windows look naff; while big shutters in old traditional homes take away from the character. So, you do need to get a look that suits the window and how contemporary you want your house to feel.

But the shutter width also impacts your ability to take in the outside world. Many thin shutters tend to clog up the view, whereas a few big wide ones let a lot more of the panorama through. If retaining your view is important to you, you may want bigger shutters even on a smaller window.

(Also remember that the thinner your shutters, the more opportunities there are for them to break and the longer they take to clean.)

As for the number of panels, this may in many ways be defined by the size of the cavity. But on bigger windows and on doors, you may want to consider at least a bottom half and a top half. This can give you the flexibility to keep the bottom closed or semi-closed, while fully opening the top. This allows you to see outside and get light while staying private.

Also look at the lines of the surrounding structures and how you might want your shutter panels to work with that. For example, on my upstairs balcony, I needed to put shutters on the left and right sides to satisfy the council and retain privacy for our neighbours. The front of the balcony had a handrail and the size of the cavity that was taking the shutters was such that it needed to have at least one vertical and one horizontal solid metal bar as reinforcement.

With that in mind, I made the horizontal bar on the shutters the same height as the top of the railing on the front of the deck. This meant I carried a consistent line around the entire space. I then kept all four panels on each side independent of one another. It meant I could angle the bottom panels so the neighbours get their privacy, and open the top panels right up to let in light and open up the view.

What is better: PVC or wood plantation shutters?

I love wood, don't get me wrong. I've got hardwood floors the whole way through my home and it feels great. Wood looks awesome and romantic and traditional, and it offers thermal protection that's better than PVC. But there's an impracticality to wood when it comes to trims and fittings I cannot get past.

Wood moves when it gets hot or cold or wet and that can make opening and closing tough. It needs to be upkept over years or it will fade and crack. It's tougher to clean. And it can't take a good hit - at least in shutter form – from a rampaging kid or drunk mate.

PVC negates these problems, and while it can swell and contract, too, it generally doesn't if installed correctly. PVC does tend to show up dirt and grime a bit more, but you've got a wide range of colours you can select from and the upkeep of that colour is so much less than it is with wood. PVC tends to be cheaper, too, however the wait time can be longer as it's often made overseas in China and shipped here – generally a 90-day process.

About Chris Stead

Finder's expert DIY and home renovation writer, Chris Stead, spent two years as an owner-builder. He was involved day-to-day from the groundwork up in constructing a two-story family home with a pool and separate granny flat. Working alongside every trade on the journey, tools in hand, he went through all the successes, failures, stress and financial decision making required to renovate in Australia.

Pros and cons of installing plantation shutters

Pros

  • Add value to your home
  • Reduce energy bills
  • Improve the privacy of your home
  • Easy to clean compared to curtains and blinds
  • Allow customisable light filtrations into your rooms

Cons

  • Plantation shutters come with a high price tag
  • Can seem bulky in smaller rooms
  • Shutters don't work with tilt-in windows and other unusual styles
  • You can't place furniture right in front of them

Bottom line

There's no denying the numerous benefits that plantation shutters bring to your home in both a functional and stylistic sense. Hiring the right professional installer for the job will ensure that you can enjoy the shutters for years to come.

Frequently asked questions about plantation shutters

What is the difference between traditional shutters and plantation shutters?

Plantation shutters offer a contemporary alternative to traditional ones. While both types of shutter share the same functions, plantation shutters typically have larger louvres and allow more light to get through. You'll also find that they tend to come in a wider variety of colours, sizes and materials.

Do plantation shutters add value?

Plantation shutters tend to be custom fit, which means they'll be sold along with the property if you ever decide to move home. For this reason, plantation shutters can add value to your property, especially if you opt for high-quality units.

How long do plantation shutters last?

As a general rule of thumb, the better the quality of the shutter, the longer they will last. For example, shutters made from hardwood, if maintained properly, will last upwards of 20 years. Alternatively, if you opt for the more affordable faux wood option, you can expect these to last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

Do you need curtains with plantation shutters?

Plantation shutters, if fitted correctly, should be enough to keep all of the light out in your home. While you might not need curtains from a practical point of view, you can use them to frame your shutters in a stylistic sense.

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