How to Build Interior Window Shutters Part 1

Indoor window shutters.

Indoor window shutters are often used as an upmarket alternative to normal window coverings, such as curtains, blinds, or drapes. Interior shutters tend to follow a general pattern, having top and bottom rails, stiles on the sides, louvers or tilting slats, and a bar connected to all of the louvers to enable them to all be moved together and at the same angle. These shutters may be hinged together in a variety of ways to cover the entire width and height of the window.

Step 1 - Decide Which Wood to Use

There are a number of different types of wood that are available for use in the home. Not all, however, are suitable for the construction of shutters. Oak is heavy and would require the drilling of fairly large holes to carry the thick jamb that would be required to support the heavy shutters. Cedar shutters may be milled and finished nicely, but it is a soft wood and can dent easily. Also, there is a substantial variation in color when staining. Cedar is more suited to outside shutters.

The quality of pine is not very consistent and there are many grades and species. Pine is also a soft wood. Another heavy wood is maple and it suffers from the same problems as oak. Poplar also mills well and may be painted, but its green color is not suitable for staining. Alder is a good choice for indoor shutters. It is a small tree, so it is available in shorter lengths.

For a taller window, therefore, finger joints may be required. A really suitable choice for shutters would be basswood, which is a hard wood. Basswood shutters are straight with a fine texture and indistinct grain. It is easy to work with and machines well. It can be sanded smooth and stained, and then dries rapidly without distorting. It is highly recommended for making interior shutters.

Step 2 - Decide Style of Shutter

Colonial or traditional shutters were popular in the northeast where they originated. They are made up of smaller (less than 16 inch) panels. They have wedge-shaped louvers, the thicker side facing the front. The louver itself is about 1¼ inch wide. There are normally four panels making up the window covering, although more may be used if the window is high enough.

Plantation shutters are usually built with a wider louver. The louvers themselves are manufactured in two profiles, the first having an elliptical profile – the thickest part of the louver is in the middle, then tapers off to both sides – while the other has a standard flat profile. The elliptical profile is stronger than the flat one.

Plantation shutters are suitable for open windows in large rooms, as they allow a little light through and offer privacy. The louvers may be positioned to block sunlight or to allow sunlight to brighten a room. This is one way of protecting carpets and furniture from fading in direct sunlight. They can be used in many different types of rooms.

Step 3 - Paint

Shutters can block sunlight or expose a magnificent view. Painted shutters can be used in any sized home. Shutters are normally white or off white. Dark colors absorb heat, so are not recommended, but can still look good in the right setting. A semi-gloss paint that matches the window frame should be used for the shutters. High gloss white paint should not be used, as it could pick up direct sunlight when the shutters are open with a resulting glare.