How to Select the Proper Sized Window Shutter

Shutters are sized so that they can cover the window.

Shutters are sized so that they can cover the window.

There are rules for selecting the correct size shutter for your windows. This shouldn’t be a wild guess. If you get it wrong, it will show. The window will look odd, even if you can’t immediately tell why it looks odd. Here are some tips to get it right.

Shutters used to serve a functional purpose on a house. They were opened and closed regularly. Wooden shutters increased a home’s security when closed and allowed light and fresh air to enter the house when they were open. Shutters were usually closed and latched at night to make the home less susceptible to break ins. And, glass was very expensive. It needed to be protected during storms to prevent breakage and shutters served that purpose, too. Shutters were a key part of the function of the windows.

These days, windows are much more durable and we depend on security systems for home security. If you live in a hurricane prone area, you know the benefit of hurricane shutters. But normal window shutters are no longer used to protect windows. Shutters have grown to simply be a decorative feature on a house.

However, even if they are merely decorative, shutters should look like they could function. If they don’t they will simply look like a couple of panels screwed to the wall for no good reason. Giving the shutters the visual impression that they could operate properly will make the proportions of the window and shutter look correct and pleasing to the eye.

Shutters should be the same height as the window frame. The sash is the part that can open and close. It is the glass plus the wood that holds the glass. The frame is the next part of the window that the sash sits within. The shutter width should be half the overall width of the frame. If sized according to this rule. When the two shutters are closed over the window, they will neatly close over the complete window sash and frame.

Do not size the shutters smaller than the window frame or they will look silly. Operable shutters would never do their job of protecting the window if they did not completely close over it. So your fixed, decorative shutters shouldn’t look too small to fit over the window frame either.

Do not size them larger that the frame or they will look like if were closed they would lap over the window plus part of the wall and look just as silly. Some windows have an additional trim board around the window. Ignore this when measuring. A proper shutter should not lap over the exterior trim.

Shutters mounted with real hinges and shutter dogs always look best. The shutter dog is the piece of metal that holds the shutters back to the wall and is usually shaped like the letter “S” . But mounting shutters this way adds significant cost and this subtle detail may not fit within your budget. But you can always afford to get the size right, even if the shutters are purely for decoration and permanently screwed to the wall. All it takes is a bit of thought, planning, and a tape measure.

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Bill Hirsch

Bill Hirsch

11 Comments

  1. Timberlane Shutters on October 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you for featuring Timberlane in this blog! We will be sure to share!

  2. Linda Petrin on November 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    This was a very interesting article. I am about to purchase some shutters to finish the look of my exterior. I have a question. I have vinyl windows (Milguard) and am told I cannot screw the shutters into the frame or the warranty is lost. My home is a driver material and I am leary of fastening them to this material as well. Do you have any suggestions? Also, are there some shutter brands you would recommend? by the way, I live in Redmond, WA, not a hurricane area.

    I am going to buy your book and am looking forward to reading it. got your name from Sara Suzanka website.

    • Bill Hirsch William Hirsch on November 7, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Linda – Usually I would suggest attaching the shutters to the wall material, but I don’t know what “driver” material is. That’s a new term for me. But if it is a siding material, you would want any attachment to go through the siding and connect with the wall framing beneath it. then you should caulk around the screws to keep water from migrating into the hole. As far as shutter brands go, Timberlane is one of the top brands. But you may find some locally distributed shutters that are good, too. I rarely use wooden shutters anymore. Solid PVC shutters look just like painted wood and they have the added benefit of not rotting. The maintenance is much lower than wood. And thanks for buying a copy of my book. I hope you like it.

    • Julia Carlson on August 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

      I’m about to purchase some shutters too! I had no idea what kind of shutters would be right for me. This has really helped me in making my decision. I will be very happy with the ones I choose! http://ssglassanddoor.com/Service.cfm

  3. Get Shutters in all Sizes at Vanguard Blinds on November 20, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Informative Blog! This blog is surely going to help those who are looking for buying secure and proper sized shutters for their houses. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Great Blog! This blog will be helpful for those who are looking for how to select the appropriate shutters for their window. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Buy Top Quality of Shutters in Brisbane on July 2, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I came to know how to select appropriate shutters for my window treatment. Thanks for sharing this informative article with us.

  6. aj on February 15, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Hi William,

    What do you do if you are taking out a single double hung window that has shutters, and replacing with three adjacent double hung windows. Would you not do shutters? Is it weird that some windows on front of house have shutters and others don’t?

    • Bill Hirsch William Hirsch on February 15, 2017 at 7:24 pm

      AJ – You should only put shutters up with windows where they would be logical if they were actually functional. A triple window would never have shutters since they could not open and close over the three windows. And I often design houses with shutters only on some of the windows.

  7. aj on February 15, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for you quick reply William! I was wondering if I could send you an elevation of the front of our house for your opinion if we should do a triple window without shutters vs one window with shutters. I can’t decide how it affects the aesthetics of the house :/

  8. Steele Honda on May 16, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks for pointing out that shutters should be the same height as the window frame. My husband and I are thinking about putting window shutters on our house because we think that it would make our house look a lot better. We’ll have to remember to measure out our windows so that we can choose the proper size and style that we want when we’re picking out our shutters.

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