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How to Measure

The Short Answer

While it is possible to make our shutters operable by choosing the correct hinge system (see Installation Instructions for more information), we generally recommend a fixed mounting system. With fixed mounting, the width of a pair of shutters does not have to add up to the exact width of the window, so our standard shutters come in 15-inches wide [other widths are available at additional cost]. In this case, it is only necessary that you measure the height of your window to ensure that the shutters will appear as though they could be operable.

If you really intend to close your shutters at some point, you should take extra care to get the correct measurements for both the width and height. At a minimum, measure both the width and height at several locations and record the smallest of these measurements. This is necessary because your windows may be out of square a small amount which could cause binding. It's also important to measure each window, since one window may be slightly different than the next. You can either order all of the shutters for the same size window using the smallest recorded dimensions, or you can order for each window individually for a more precise fit. When you place your order, make sure to let us know if your shutters will be operable and, if so, whether the dimensions you supply are exact or if the shutters should be made slightly smaller to provide proper clearance.

Remember, since all of our shutters are custom-made, we cannot accept returns for credit or refund due to improper measurement unless we have made a mistake in your order.

The Long Answer

  Figure 1: shutters are too wide
House restoration purists shudder (pun intended) when they see shutters that don't "properly" fit. Conventional wisdom holds that even shutters which are not operable should be sized to fit the window as though they were operable. So to achieve a more traditional look, measure the window opening into which a closed shutter would fit. Then order your shutters in that height and width. We'll make your shutters about 1/4 inch smaller in both dimensions for proper clearance.

 Figure 2: shutters are too narrow

On the other hand, most windows are around 30 inches wide. And, most people find that extremely wide or extremely narrow shutters look awkward (figures 1 and 2), even when they are properly sized to fit the window. A 15-inch wide shutter looks right to most people on just about any window that is 36 inches high or more, provided the shutter is about the same height as the window. That's why our standard shutters are 15 inches wide [all of the Shutterstile shutters in the photos on our website are 15-inches wide]. We've also designed the replaceable tile panels to look best on a 15-inch shutter. So if you don't plan to make your shutters operable, and your windows are around 30 inches wide, why not save a few dollars and order the standard width.

 Figure 3: double shutters on extra-wide windows
But what do you do if your window is significantly wider than 30 inches? Operable shutters solve this problem with two double shutters that may be mounted side-by-side (figure 3), but are more commonly folded over to give the appearance of a single, half-width shutter from the street. So you could achieve the appearance of an operable shutter on a wide window with a single shutter on each side of the window that is 1/4 the size of the window opening. On the other hand, contemporary exterior designers often suggest that you avoid shutters on picture windows or any window that is too large to support an operable shutter (figure 4).

 Figure 4: shutters out of proportion

There is less consensus among the experts on how to deal with unusually narrow windows or windows that are too close to some obstruction or to another window to install shutters on both sides. Some experts recommend a single shutter equal to the width of the window, placed on one side only (figure 5). Others caution against using shutters in these cases.

 Figure 5: a single shutter for each window

We've all seen houses with properly proportioned shutters that just don't look right. The experts would tell you that the problem is with the windows, not the shutters. But unless you intend a major remodel, you have to work with what you've got. Personally, we think that modern shutters are more about aesthetics than functionality. These days, shutters frame the windows and provide a decorative element that improves curb appeal. So you should do what looks good to you. If that means putting a 15-inch wide shutter on a picture window to break up that expanse of blank glass, we say go for it.

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