DIY Exterior Shutters

Exterior shutters on windows can offer increased protection against hurricanes, and they’re common in areas that are prone to those. Most hardware and home improvement stores sell them. Elsewhere, people have exterior shutters as decoration. Rather than buying them, consider making your own exterior shutters.

Types of Materials

With the right types of wood you’ll have good resistance to winds and rain. It’s important not to use just any type of wood. If you want pine, for example, make sure it’s pressure treated.

Cedar is another soft wood, but it’s highly water resistant, making it a good choice for exterior shutters, although it will cost a great deal more than pine. If you want a hardwood, try mahogany. It is, however even more expensive than cedar, costing about three times as much, on average. Finally, composite has become increasingly popular for exterior shutters. It’s made from resin, glue and sawdust and shaped so it looks like wood. They can either be colored or painted.

For about the same price as mahogany, you can have shutters made from aluminum, but they are not a good option if you want to build them yourself.


Exterior shutters can be very decorative, although you’ll only tend to find this in areas where they’re not intended to be functional. If you’re making your own shutters and you want cut out decorations, make a stencil first so you can trace it on to the wood.

Common designs are hearts cut out of the wood, for instance, which can easily be done with a jigsaw. Many like louvered exterior shutters. These offer advantages, as they can be closed and still allow light to enter the house. For these, you’ll need to construct a frame and know how to put in the louvers. Doing these yourself will create a great deal of work.

Solid Shutters

In hurricane areas, you want the exterior shutters to be as solid as possible. Although you generally won’t be able to make shutters from a single piece of material, you should use as few pieces as possible with the pieces attached carefully and strongly.

In these regions, you also need to consider how to keep the shutters closed in the event of a storm. A hook and eyelet won’t be sufficient to keep the shutters closed in a heavy wind; instead, consider a hinge and hasp that can be secured or even locked. Similarly, you want very strong hinges and a tight seal, so the wind won’t get under the shutters and pull them off.


In most cases, you can make a pair of shutters and install them in less than a day. For the frame, be sure to use mortise and tenon joins and that the wood you use is flat and straight. That means buying the very best wood you can afford.

The greater your woodworking skills, the easier the job will be, although you can still make exterior shutters even if you’ve done very little before. Make careful plans and use the right equipment to do the job correctly. When it’s time to put the shutters up on the wall, you’ll find the job a great deal easier if you heave someone to help you.