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How to Install Shutters on a Brick House

Use masonry anchors to attach working window coverings to a plain brick facade—and add some period charm, to boot

There's a reason certain architectural embellishments stand the test of time: Function is built into the design. Take louvered window shutters. They've been used for centuries to control light and draw air in through an open window. Their utilitarian lines make them equally appropriate on house styles from the colonial farmhouse to the rambling ranch. And if it's made of brick? No problem, with advice from This Old House general contractor Tom Silva. He installs them on this mid-1800s brick rowhouse using masonry anchors and completes the look with period-accurate cast-iron shutter dogs as holdbacks. Follow along to learn how to add historical charm with a window treatment durable and timeless enough to weather another 100-plus years.

Step 1


Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Project Timeline:

Day 1: Measure and order the shutters (Steps 2-3).

Day 2: Mount the shutters (Steps 4–13).

Step 2

Measure the Opening

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The shutters will completely fill the window opening and conceal the casing when closed. Measure the width of each opening brick to brick, as shown, at the top, middle, and bottom. To get the height, measure in three spots between the lintel and the sill. Measure the depth from the wall to the window casing to determine the hardware you'll need. The adage "measure twice" is critical here.

Step 3

Size the Shutters

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

To specify the proper width, use the narrowest of the three measurements. Subtract ¾ inch from that measurement (or follow the manufacturer's recommendations) to leave enough of a gap for the two shutters to close. Divide the number by 2 to find the width for each shutter. For the height, go with the shortest measurement and subtract ½ inch to leave a slight gap top and bottom. When you have the shutters, dry-fit each one in its opening to check the sizing.

Step 4

Install the Hinges

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Rest the shutters side by side on a worktable, with the louvers slanting down and away from the house when closed, to shed water. Measure and mark lines bisecting the top and bottom rails of each shutter. Starting with the left shutter, center a strap hinge over the line, with the fastener hole of the strap end centered on the stile. Drill pilot holes and fasten the hinges with the included screws. Repeat the process with the other three hinges, making sure that the knuckles, also known as gudgeons, on the two adjoining shutters mirror each other.

Step 5

Fit the Shutters

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Set the shutters in place inside the window opening, lined up with each other at the top and bottom and flush with the brick facade. Center the shutters by eye within the opening, and use wood shims to hold them in place on all four sides.

Step 6

Set the Pintle

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

With the shutters set in place, slide a pintle up through the gudgeon of a strap hinge, as shown. Seat the pin base snugly against the hinge, and mark the pintle's fastener locations on the brick.

Step 7

Drill the Pilot Hole

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Fit the hammerdrill with the 5⁄32-inch masonry bit. Hold the pintle firmly against the brick at the marks, and drill through the plate and into the brick. Start slowly and make sure to hold the hammerdrill level and steady so that you don't egg-out the hole. To remove the bulk of the brick dust, keep the bit spinning as you pull the hammerdrill back from the hole.

Step 8

Fasten the Pintle

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Use the drill/driver to drive a 3/16-by-1¾-inch self-tapping masonry screw into each hole, stopping when the screwhead is seated flush in the pintle plate. Install the remaining pintles with the same method.

Step 9

Attach the Strike Plate

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Working from inside the house, measure and mark the midpoint of the middle stile on each shutter. Center the strike plate on one shutter, set in ⅛ inch from the edge. Hold the plate in place, drill pilot holes, and fasten it to the shutter with the included screws.

Step 10

Fasten the Sliding Bolt

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Use the rafter square to position and hold the bolt in place on the opposite shutter, centered along the middle stile and set in ⅛ inch from the shutter's edge. Drill pilot holes and secure the bolt to the shutter with the included screws. Close the shutters and test the latch.

Step 11

Drill the Holdback Hole

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Swing the shutters into the open position. Measure and mark spots on the brick facade, 1 inch below the bottom edge of each shutter and centered on its width. Fit the hammerdrill with the 5/16-inch masonry bit, and drill a hole at each mark, stopping at a depth of 3 inches.

Tip: Start slowly and make sure your drill bit is perpendicular to the brick in all directions.

Step 12

Set the Anchor

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Blow out any brick dust from the hole. Slip a 5/16-inch lead anchor into the hole and tap it in with the hammer, stopping when it's flush with the face of the brick.

Step 13

Attach the Holdback

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Slip a lag bolt through the holdback. Set the tip of the bolt into the hole, and tap it a few times to help seat it in the anchor. Use the socket wrench to thread the lag bolt into the hole.