Step by step guide to installing operable exterior shutters and hardware.
Functional exterior shutters, which swing shut for privacy or protection, are a welcome addition to any home. Besides the privacy, you'll also get relief from the summer heat and strong winds. Period iron hardware on wood shutters will dress up the front of your house and add to its curb appeal.
5-In-1 Painter's Tool
Paintbrush and Roller
Drill/Driver with a set of common driving and drill bits
Most home centers sell exterior shutters in stock sizes, but they may not fit properly in the window opening. If you are looking for tight-fitting shutters you will have to have custom-made shutters to your window’s specifications. They can usually be ordered online or in the home center and can take three to six weeks to come in. Many manufacturers have online catalogs and will talk you through choosing a style appropriate to your house. Look for models made from rot-resistant wood, such as mahogany or cedar, with mortise-and-tenon joints that are also pegged so that the joints don’t come apart. You can order them primed or natural.
Look around your neighborhood to see if there is any older, original shutter hardware on any of the homes. It is a good idea to get hardware that not only fits the look of your home, but also fits in with the other homes in your town. Some hinges require chiseling out mortises on the shutters and casing. Depending on the detail of the trim around the window, you may also have to decide between hinges that rest on the casing or just outside it. So make sure you and the manufacturer’s rep both understand the layout of your window casings. You will need masonry fasteners if you are installing your shutters onto brick or stone.
Tiebacks are simple latches that hold the shutters open. Shutter dogs are traditional, but simpler catches, spring latches, or hooks and staples are also available. You can also install hardware that is hidden behind the open shutters.
Pulls or Knobs and Latches
These help you grab the shutters from inside and lock them when shut.
Remove any old storm windows and screens before starting to install the shutters. Clean out any debris and caulk and paint the window frame the day before. The hinges can be tricky to install, especially with the first pair.
Paint the wood shutters before installing them on your home. If you scratch or chip the finish, it is much easier to touch it up than having to paint the entire shutter.
When setting the shutters, remember that the wider rail always goes at the bottom. On paneled shutters, the flat side of the panels should face out when the shutters are closed. On louvered shutters, the louver openings should face down when the shutters are closed.
1. Shim the shutter in the opening
You may need a hand for this part. Place one shutter in the window opening and shim it tight at the top and bottom. Position the other shutter the same way and then center the two leafs in the opening so that there is about a ¼-inch gap (reveal) on all sides. Place shims in the reveals to hold the shutters in place.
2. Install the upper hinge
Hook the two parts of a hinge together and position them at the top of one shutter. Center the strap on the top rail and the pin, often called a pintle, on the casing. Use your level to check that the pin is plumb. Mark the locations of the screw holes for both the strap and the pintle on the shutter and casing.
Set aside the strap. Using a drill/driver fitted with a drill bit sized for your hardware’s screws, drill pilot holes at the marks for the pintle. Screw the pintle to the casing. Complete the same process of the other top hinge set for the other shutter leaf.
3. Install the lower hinge
Using a level, draw a plumb line down the casement from the top pintle to the approximate location of the lower hinge. It may be easier to use a plumb bob to locate the lower hinge, but if you’re not familiar with using one, it is better to stick with the level. Use this as a reference for positioning and marking for the lower hinge, centered on the bottom rail, in the same manner as above. Screw the two lower pintles to the casing.
4. Attaching the hinges to the shutters
Make sure that you have marked the location of the holes for the hinges before removing the shutters and placing them on sawhorses. Using a drill/driver, bore pilot holes at your marks through the strap on the top and bottom rails. Screw the strap hinges into position with the screws provided. Use a drill stop or piece of tape so that you don’t drill through the shutter.
While you have the shutters on sawhorses, position and fasten one pull and the bolt for the latch to one of the shutters. Place them just below the middle of the shutter, where they can be reached through an open window.
Hang the shutters in place and check that they swing easily and close securely.
5. Mounting the shutter latch
Assemble the shutter latch or dog. Shutter dogs are usually 2 or 3 parts, one being a modified lag bolt that screws into the side of the house. Open the shutters all the way. Position the dog on the siding under the shutter, 4 inches in from the shutter’s outer edge and 1 inch below the bottom edge. Holding the bolt up against the house, check that it has enough contact with the shutter to hold it open. Then spin it sideways and check that the shutter can clear it to swing closed.
Once you’re satisfied with the dog’s position, mark the bolt’s location. Drill a pilot hole at the mark. Using a wrench, twist the bolt into the siding. Repeat the process for the other dog.
6. Locking hardware
Close the shutters and move to the inside of the window. Have someone hold the shutters closed or use a long pipe clamp to secure both leafs together. Locate the other pull in line with the one you attached previously. Mark and drill pilot holes, and attach the pull. Follow the same process for installing the catch for the latch bolt.
You may also install a simple hook that swings onto a screw.
You can use this installation process for mounting the shutters on the interior of your home, but the hinges will typically be butt hinges and you may or may not need a latch or dog to keep them open.
Follow the installation instructions for your hardware as there are several types of shutter hinges such as H-Hinges, Gravity Butt Hinges, Lift-Off hinges, New York “L”, Connecticut, or New England Style Hinges, and Lull and Porter Mortise Hinges.