6 Types of Exterior Shutter Styles and How to Choose the Right One

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated April 1, 2022
brick house with shutters on windows
Photo: Michael Shake / Adobe Stock

Shutters do more than just make your windows look nicer

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It’s easy to think of shutters simply as attractive window accessories, but even the most colorful ones provide benefits beyond boosting curb appeal. When closed, exterior shutters can protect your windows from harsh weather as well as prevent intruders from entering. 

Let’s examine various exterior shutter styles so you can see what might work best for your home:

Exterior Shutters Provide Protection or Decoration

Exterior shutters typically fall into two major categories: functional and decorative. Functional shutters are installed either on the sides of or above the window and can be closed in or down to protect the windows. Decorative shutters are installed on the sides of the windows and are not able to be closed over the window, so they exist only for aesthetic purposes. Overall, exterior shutters cost between $300 and $1,050 per window.

Let’s take a look at the different exterior shutter styles that either protect or decorate your home’s exterior.

1. Louvered Shutters

brown louvered shutters
Photo: nd700 / Adobe Stock

Louvered shutters are what typically comes to mind when you think of traditional shutters. A center rail separates two sections of slats (louvers) for each shutter, which is installed on either side of the window. They can remain fixed in that position or closed over the window. Since air can filter through the slats, louvered shutters are more popular in warmer climates.

2. Paneled Shutters

black paneled shutters on brick house
Photo: Victor / Adobe Stock

Paneled shutters are built from two panels made from solid material. When installed, they can be closed over a window to offer security against intruders and against harsh weather. The panel designs might be raised, flat, or recessed, depending on your preference. Panel shutters are a good choice for homes in colder climates because they provide some insulation when shut.

3. Board and Batten Shutters

white board and batten shutters
Photo: Daniel / Adobe Stock

Board and batten shutters are created by single boards held together with cross pieces of wood that are fastened either horizontally or on an angle. It is constructed not unlike a fence that has the boards tightly up against each other.  

4. Bermuda Shutters

blue Bermuda shutters with flowerbox
Photo: Carl & Ann Purcell / Corbis / Getty Images

Bermuda shutters, sometimes known as Bahama shutters, are a type of louvered shutter. However, unlike it being installed on the side of the window, this type of shutter is installed from the top. When closed, this type of shutter can protect a home against stormy weather, but not cold weather, as air can easily circulate through the slats. 

5. Hurricane Shutters

metal hurricane shutters
Photo: Dennis Tokarzewski / Adobe Stock

Like the name suggests, these shutters come in clutch during hurricanes and tropical storms. When closed properly, they can protect windows from being damaged during extreme winds. They are usually made from hardy materials like steel or aluminum, though plywood is also an option, particularly when preparing quickly for an approaching storm. They are designed in such a way that one panel covers the entire window.

6. Rolling Shutters

metal rolling shutters on brick house
Photo: bildlove / Adobe Stock

Shutters aren't just for residential properties. Rolling security shutters provide security for storefronts, office buildings, health care centers, or other commercial buildings. Not only do they keep out burglars, but they can protect windows and doors in extreme weather. For this reason, rolling shutters for residences are becoming more available for homeowners.

Shutter Materials 

Shutters are made using a variety of materials, but the most common ones for residential properties are made from wood, composite, and vinyl.

Wood Shutters

Wooden shutters can be customized to your preferred aesthetic by using paint or stain. They are typically very durable and can work with a variety of exteriors from aluminum or vinyl siding to brick to stucco. A variety of wood types can be used, though cedar is a popular choice for avoiding decay and repelling insects.

Composite Shutters

Composite shutters can be painted, but they cannot be stained like wood. If you are weighing your options between wood and composite shutters, consider this: Composite does not absorb moisture, which means mold and rot are kept at bay. Termites don't have a chance against composite shutters, either. Composite shutters are only slightly less expensive than wood, but you will not need to maintain your composite shutters as much as those made from the real thing. Another plus for composite shutters is that they can last nearly twice as long as wooden shutters.

Vinyl Shutters

Like siding, shutters also come in vinyl. As you might expect, vinyl shutters are lighter than wood, and they’re also lighter on your budget. However, they can be hard to maintain, so you’ll be paying to replace your vinyl shutters sooner than you would their wooden or composite counterparts. 

Steel is often used for roller shutters, but this can make them very heavy. Aluminum is another choice, but polycarbonate—a strong, transparent plastic—is the most lightweight yet effective material for rolling shutters.

The right type of exterior shutters for your house will depend on whether you want your shutters to protect your home or merely decorate it. If you live in an area that has harsh weather, it would make sense to choose functional shutters that you can close over your windows to protect them. However, when you choose the right material and style for your house, even functional shutters that offer security can increase curb appeal, too. You can call a local window installation company to find out what’s right for you.

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