It is believed that shutters were first used in ancient Greece, and as use of these window treatments spread across the Mediterranean, and later into medieval Europe, early designs changed from marble to wood. But the first wood shutter did not really make an appearance as an exterior window treatment until the Victorian era, as prior to this time period, most houses were made of stone, with recessed windows that made it hard to reach exterior shutters from the inside. Once wood construction of homes became more commonplace, so did the wood shutter as an exterior window treatment.
In early America, the exterior wood shutter was mainly utilized for practical uses, such as keeping out insects, keeping homes cool before there were air conditioners, keeping drafts out when heating was less efficient, and heavy-duty shutters were used to protect against hurricanes.
Today, the exterior wood shutter can still serve practical purposes, such as helping with air ventilation, helping with the heating and cooling efficiency of a house, and helping to control the amount of sunlight exposure furniture and upholstery receive, as well as keeping the outside of the windows clean, and giving the home owner extra privacy.
However, they can also serve an aesthetic purpose. For a classic country look, or one of historical elegance, wooden shutters are the perfect choice. Homes in colonial New England often had wooden shutters on them, and heritage homes will often use shutters to preserve the authentic, old atmosphere of a historical place. Depending on the color of your home, you can find just about any wood stain, from a dark mahogany, to a rich cherry, to a bright pine, that will perfectly match your wooden window treatment with your siding. If you are going for a country look, you should consider wood stain to keep the shutters looking as natural as possible. If you are going for a colonial look, you may want to paint the shutters white.
When shopping for wooden shutters, be sure to first measure all your exterior windows for what sizes you will need. Wooden shutters may be somewhat more expensive than vinyl exterior window treatments, but prices will vary depending on the kind you want to buy and the sizes you require. More decorative ones, larger ones, or ones with motorized parts that might require you hire someone to install them, will cost more than basic, smaller wooden window treatments. Shopping online for your shutters may save you money, but this does mean you cannot check the shutters in person for quality, nor can you check the kit to make sure it comes with everything you need to install your shutters.
There are some disadvantages to exterior wooden window treatments, for they are more expensive than vinyl window treatments, and they will require more maintenance and care than the vinyl alternative will. For instance, painted shutters may crack or peel without constant care, and the wood can rot if the weather treatment is not kept up. Some woods are more prone to rotting from moisture, too, so it is important to consider this as well when shopping for exterior window treatments. Avoid teak and Spanish cedar, as they are prone to rapid degradation from moisture. However, most sellers of quality window treatments finish the wood in a way that makes it more durable against the elements. Another thing to consider with exterior wooden shutters when it comes to maintenance is the fact they can be harder to clean than vinyl, since wood is a porous material that naturally absorbs stains, if not properly treated.
Shutters have gone through many transformations, from serving practical purposes to serving dual purposes of practical and aesthetic, since they were first invented, as purported, in ancient Greece. The wood shutter has done everything from keep insects out of our homes, to keep out nasty storms, to beautify our heritage dwellings. For a homey, country look or one of historical charm, the wood shutter is a perfect window treatment to finish off your colonial house or weekend cabin. While they are more pricey and not as easy to maintain as the vinyl alternative, they give a house an atmosphere of old world charm, upping not just your home’s overall appeal, but also its worth on the housing market.