Just Plantation Shutters

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Step by Step Guide to Choosing Your Plantation Shutters

This guide will walk you through the choices and options for choosing plantation shutters

Denver area homeowners love plantation shutters and I really enjoy the consultation process helping them choose exactly what they want from the material to the many options available. This guide helps to understand the options available.


Step 1

Wood or Composite?

Example of wood and composite plantation shutters

Wood is the perfect choice if you want something with a stained color that shows the character of the wood grain, and will match your existing wood trim or decor. However, wood has some disadvantages that you should be aware of.

    • Wood absorbs moisture, causing expansion which wreaks havoc with film coatings like paint (but not stain).
    • Moisture causes warping, splintering, and loosening of hardware such as the staples that hold the control rods to the louvers.
    • UV rays dry out wood to the point it becomes brittle and develops surface cracking, causing painted surfaces to flake, crack, alligator or split.

These are disadvantages to a wood shutter, but if you want a stained product, wood is the way to go.

Composite plantation shutters are the better choice if you want a white shutter. However, composite is just a general term meaning something made of more than one material, and most manufacturers cover a pressed sawdust or wood pulp interior core with a plastic coating. These wood-cored products have names like Faux wood or Poly something, and they have almost as many disadvantages as a solid wood shutter.

The four types of composite shutters


Solid resin composite shutters have no wood in them and don’t have any of the issues of solid wood shutters or composite shutters with a wood core.

Solid resin, through-body color composite plantation shutters have solid color all the way through them, there are no coatings to flake or delaminate as they age.

If you want the longest lasting, most maintenance-free shutters available you want a Solid Resin Through Body Composite Plantation Shutter.


Read this if you would like to know 12 reasons why our plantation shutters are the best you can buy in the Denver

Solid Resin Through Body Color Composite Plantation Shutter on the left and a wood-cored (pressed sawdust) covered in plastic composite shutter on the rightSolid Resin Through Body Color Composite Plantation Shutter on the left and a wood-cored (pressed sawdust) covered in plastic composite shutter on the right


Step 2
Louver Control

The louvers control the amount of light coming through the shutter panel. The louvers are connected to each other with a control arm so that when you adjust one they all adjust at the same time so you don’t have to move them each one at a time.

Front Louver Control Rod
This is the original or Traditional plantation shutter design. All shutters at one time had their louvers controlled by a front louver control rod.

This look is very traditional, it is the “plantation shutter” look. If you like that traditional design and have a traditional home with traditional elements and decor this is the right style to choose that will fit perfectly with your home.

Example of front louver control rod
Front Control Rods

Composite plantation shutters in traditional style Denver home

A traditional home looks great with front louver control rod shutters
A traditional home looks great with front louver control rod shutters


Hidden Louver Control Rod
About 15 years ago shutters became available with the louver control rod removed from the front and placed in the back of the louvers where it all but disappear.

This is a ‘cleaner’ look or a more modern or more contemporary style of shutter that works well if your home has more modern decor and architecture.

However, it works very well in most Denver homes because so many have what is called a ‘transitional’ style, which has both traditional and contemporary elements.

Example of hidden or rear louver control rods
Hidden Control Rods

Composite plantation shutters in modern style Denver living room

Contemporary setting
Hidden louver control rods work well in contemporary or modern-styled homes

If you have a transitional-styled home where you have a mixture of contemporary elements and traditional elements which is very typical of Colorado homes you can feel comfortable with either front or hidden louver controls

An example of shutters in a transitional style kitchen

Examples of transitional-style homes with front or hidden louver controls
Examples of transitional-style homes with front or hidden louver controls


Step 3

All plantation shutters today come with frames in order to deal with out-of-square window openings, the frames cover the drywall or on top of wood trim around your windows and are installed plumb and square, eliminating any issues of out-of-square existing finishes.

Frame styles in wood and composite material

Simple style frames compliment modern or contemporary styles, and more elaborate frames work well with traditional decor.

Look at your existing trim around your doors, and what your baseboard looks like, the frames chosen should work with these existing elements of your home.

The larger decorative style frames complement this home's existing style
The larger decorative style frames complement this home’s existing style


Step 4
Louver Size

The louvers let in the light through the plantaion shutter panels. In the past there were just small louvers, very old shutters were as small as 3/4 of an inch, however, this is not a desired size today.

Today, louvers come in 2 1/2″, 3 1/2″, and 4 1/2″ sizes.

Keep in mind, smaller or larger louvers aren’t necessarily going to change the amount of light that comes through the windows very much. Going from a 2 1/2″ louver to a 3 1/2″ louver may only remove 1 or 2 louvers from the panel, louvers are only about 1/4″ in thickness so that is not a big change in the amount of light coming through, it would be almost impossible to detect.

Louver sizes are mostly about the ‘look’ you want and sometimes about preserving the view through the shutter panels.

understanding different plantation shutter louver sizes

2 1/2″ Louvers
Are considered a very traditional look. When people think about plantation shutters a 2 1/2″ louver combined with a front louver control rod is often what comes to mind.

2 1/2 inch louvers in traditional living room

Cafe style plantation shutters

3 1/2″ louvers
Are the most popular choice, combined with or without a front louver control rod. They work well proportionately with most homes and offer a good compromise for allowing a good view through the louvers when they are open, while not being overly large.3 1/2 inch louvers in living room with split tilt feature   Side light plantation shutters Denver home front door

4 1/2″ louvers
Are considered a ‘view’ louver today. They work well with very large proportions such as cathedral ceilings and very large windows. They also are the best choice if you have a view you want to preserve through the louvers like a view of the mountains.

bifold plantation shutters in 4 1/2 inch louvers

Example of how 4 1/2 louvers allow a better view


Step 5

Dividers do just that, they divide the louvers on a panel into two different sections, sometimes they are required for strengthening a panel that is very tall, but most of the time they are a design option for looks and the function of dividing the panel.

Being able to close the bottom section while opening the top section is a nice feature for privacy. Dividers don’t have to go in the middle, they can be measured to be placed higher or lower on the panel also.

Dividers example

Divider with rear louver control rod

Divider with front louver control rod


Step 6
Louver Control Rod Splits

If you don’t want a divider but still want the option of adjusting the top and bottom sections of a panel separately, you can also do a control rod split.

There won’t be any material dividing the panel, but the louvers will be able to be controlled in sections. This option is mostly used with a shutter that you have chosen a rear/hidden louver control rod, when choosing a front louver control rod, the divider is a better look.

Example of split tilt control rods hidden in wood


Rear louver control arms split to allow the top and bottom louvers to be adjusted separately
Rear louver control arms split to allow the top and bottom louvers to be adjusted separately

A front louver control panel with the louver control arms split
A front louver control panel with the louver control arms split


Those are your major choices and options to decide upon when selecting plantation shutters today. 

After these choices, there are just specialty products that have their own unique features, such as Side Light plantation Shutters, French Door Plantation Shutters, Arched Plantation Shutters and Patio Door Plantation Shutters.

I hope you found this guide helpful with your process of considering and choosing plantation shutters for your Denver area home. When you’re ready to schedule a free in-home consultation please contact me via phone, email or the contact form at the bottom of this page.

I look forward to meeting with you and helping guide you through the selection, purchase, and installation of these amazing, beautiful upgrades to your home.R



I look forward to answering any questions you might have about plantation shutters or talking with you about scheduling a free estimate in your home