The “hottest thing” in housing this year is exterior living spaces, says Leigh Denham, national sales manager for shutter manufacturer Southern Shutter Company, in Montgomery, Ala. And one of the latest trends for those spaces is the “shutter wall.”
According to Denham, many Southern Shutter customers are forgoing screened porches or bricked-in outdoor kitchens in favor of walls crafted from louvered house shutters, vertically stacked from the patio floor to a height that provides privacy. “It allows ventilation to come through to the porch,” Denham says, “while providing privacy for outdoor living spaces.”
The manufacturer’s open louver-style shutters range in style from colonial to contemporary. Designed with a cathedral profile top, the line comes in 16 colors, including Musket Brown (shown). Lengths range from 25 to 80 inches.
Most exterior shutters, of course, are installed on windows, but homeowners are finding other creative uses: on outdoor showers, as valances hanging from porch ceilings, and as privacy fences, especially in communities with tight lot lines. In addition, Trisha Wagner , senior product manager for Mid-America Siding Components, says shutters are showing up on other parts of the home. Accessorizing all four sides of a house, Wagner says, gives the impression of “having [the home] kind of hug you while you’re there.”
Wagner says the company has seen some growth in exterior shutter sales in that state over the past few years. She estimates that 90 percent of new homes in Michigan are outfitted with shutters and says homeowners in Atlantic Coast states are more likely to choose shutters than those on the Pacific Coast, where the typical stucco home doesn’t have shutters.
On shutter-adorned homes, front elevations don’t necessarily come with shutters on every window as they once did, Wagner says, noting that many homeowners choose to display shutters on just a couple of windows on each side of the house.
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Alternatives to Wood Exterior Shutters
These days, shutters no longer are made exclusively from wood or vinyl. Composites with tough, baked-on finishes are gaining traction because of their low maintenance and longevity, according to Alyssa Puketza, marketing manager for shutters at Timberlane. While wood shutters still appeal to many homeowners, composites that resist moisture, termites, and rot are nearly as popular. In addition, some manufacturers have added maintenance-free fiberglass, for more resilience in extreme climates. That stable, durable material also allows for heavy, oversize shutters, Puketza adds.
Endurian shutters are crafted from a blend of synthetic materials to produce maintenance-free shutters that, when combined with the company’s painting process, have the same appearance as wood but are resistant to moisture and insect damage.
Exterior shutter styles have changed little, manufacturers say. Slatted louver-style designs are the most popular, followed by panel-style products. Bermuda-style shutters, which are hinged at the top to provide shade without blocking breezes, are largely found on homes in coastal areas.
Wagner says Tapco sales have reflected double-digit growth in board-and-batten shutters, popular with homeowners who favor a cottage- or farmhouse-style look. The style also goes well on trendy homes designed with mix-and-match cladding. “You’re seeing a mixture of textures—stone or traditional lap siding mixed with brick,” she says. “Board-and-batten brings it all together.”
The board-and-batten style also works on homes designed to look retro, Wagner says. “There’s a big trend right now of everything retro—the vintage look, upcycled, recycled, vintage,” she notes. “That really is the essence of board-and-batten.”
ATLANTIC PREMIUM SHUTTERS
The manufacturer’s Classic Collection features board-and-batten shutters handcrafted from composite wood. The product’s finish is created with two coats of marine-grade primer; an industrial-grade, two-part urethane finish paint; and oven curing to harden and bond the finish.
No matter the style, the same colors are trending across manufacturers and regions. The most popular color is black, followed by white and green, manufacturers say. But gray, blue, and brown are gaining ground. “Grays have been popular for interior palettes for the past seven years, and they’re still going strong,” Wagner says. “Typically, when [a color is] popular as an interior palette, it migrates to the exterior.”
[ Read More: WHAT IS THE MOST POPULAR EXTERIOR BUILDING MATERIAL? ]
Function Exterior Shutters Boost Curb Appeal
In addition, more homeowners are opting to install functional house shutters that can open and close over windows, although few beyond the Southeast and coastal properties ever actually close them, manufacturers say. “We encourage people, if they’re going to buy our product, to go with functional over mounted,” Puketza says. “It boosts curb appeal. When you add shutter hardware, you instantly see the curb appeal.”
Decorative shutters from Nu-Wood are available in standard and custom sizes to help boost a home’s curb appeal. Products come in 10 styles to complement almost any architectural design and are made from a material that resists moisture, insects, salt air, and rot.
To that end, shutter manufacturers have boosted production of decorative hardware, from hinges to tiebacks. “When you put the decorative hardware on a nonfunctional shutter, from the street you can’t tell it’s not functional,” Wagner says. “And it adds some architectural and historical correctness. It’s a really nice look.”
Jonathan Ebling, owner of The Philadelphia Shutter Co., in Temple, Pa., which manufactures wooden home shutters, says the most “accurate-looking” shutters are those that function correctly. “Many of our homeowners don’t actually open and close the shutters as they would have a century ago,” Ebling says, “but they are able to. Those are the most authentic looks.”
Puketza sees an emerging trend toward more customization. “What’s next is what we’re doing now,” she says. “We’re making it personal ... creating that welcome-home moment for each customer. That personalized approach is what’s next for shutters.”
This story originally appeared in the March/April issue of PRODUCTS magazine. See the print version here.