How to Hang Exterior Shutters
With this weekend project, your home will have all the privacy it needs—plus an extra dose of curb appeal
So what if you want to crank up the Bob Seger, slip on the dark sunglasses, turn up your collar, and slide across the living room floor in nothing but your underpants and oxford shirt? Go right ahead—what you do in the privacy of your own home is, frankly, nobody's beeswax. Just do the neighbors a favor and shutter the windows.
Functional exterior shutters, which swing shut when you need them to, will do the job quite nicely. As This Old House technical editor Mark Powers shows on the following pages, you could put several pairs up in a weekend. Then, aside from privacy from prying eyes, you'll also get relief from the summer heat, a barrier against storm winds, and a sure defense against arrow attacks (if you're a 17-century colonist, that is).
The bonus: Studded with hammered-iron hardware and a bright coat of paint, shutters will dress up the front of your house and add to its curb appeal. Which, we're guessing, is a better way to attract attention to your house than your half-dressed homage to Tom Cruise.
Hanging Exterior Shutters over
Functional exterior shutters attach to the trim around the window (the casing) and swing into the window opening, resting flush with the casing when closed and latched. When open, the shutters stand proud of the house, held in place by a pivoting metal tieback (also called a shutter dog), a hook, or a catch.
Provided with measurements, companies will custom-make shutters to fit your window openings. Taking the measurement is a critical first step - there should only be a 1/4-inch gap on all sides of the shutters when they're closed, leaving little margin for error. Positioning the shutters so they sit this way is where most homeowners run into difficulty, says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva. "Shutters are meant to fit inside the casing," he explains. "Many people think they're supposed to hang outside the casing, but that would make it impossible to close them properly."
Give yourself a day to get the shutters painted and the windows prepped. Between coats, count the hardware pieces to make sure you have enough of everything for each window. Remove any old shutters on the windows, expecting that you'll need to touch up some paint, fill with caulk, or just clean out the cobwebs and dead bugs you'll find back there. You will also need to remove storm windows if you want the shutters to operate.
With everything prepped and ready, the biggest challenge you face is positioning the hinges so the shutters swing straight and close smoothly. This may take some trial and error on the first pair, but the work gets easier once you get the hang of it.