“Faux Wood” Shutters

versus

Real Wood Shutters

Looking at the two pictures above, you could be forgiven for not being able to tell which are the Real Wood shutters and which are the Faux Wood Shutters. (You could also be forgiven for thinking these were in the same house – They’re not) The thing about a high quality “Faux Wood” Shutter is that it should be indiscernable from a real wood shutter. After all, chances are, if you want shutters in your home, it’s because you’ve seen some beautiful wood shutters in your lifetime, and that is the look you want.

What type of shutters are the best?

Let’s start this conversation by going over some of the most popular types of Plantation Shutters.

  • Real Wood Shutters
  • Vinyl Composite Shutters
  • Wood Composite or Hybrid Shutters
  • Hollow Vinyl Shutters
  • Vinyl-Clad Hybrid Shutters

So as you can see, the question of Real Wood vs. Faux Wood is an impossible thing to answer 100% one way or another, since no two “Faux Wood” Shutters are the same. The best thing to do is assess the needs of your home specifically and decide what type of shutter is the best fit for you. Real Wood has a timeless beauty, and when built from quality materials will last a lifetime. That’s not to say non-wood shutters don’t have some exceptional qualities as well though. Many composite shutters actually insulate better than real wood, and are more stable in humid climates. Vinyl or Poly Composites work especially well in wet environments, since there is absolutely no risk of any type of water damage.

How are these shutters built?

Real Wood Shutters

Real Wood Shutters are typically built from hardwood materials such as Poplar, Basswood, Maple, Alder, Pine, Cherry or Oak, using traditional joinery; such as mortise and tenon and dovetail joinery. The wood is harvested, milled into shutter components, assembled into shutters, and then finished with paints or stains applied by either hand or machine. Machine applied paints or stains typically produce a flatter more even finish.

Wood Composite (Hybrid) Shutters

Wood Composite Shutters are typically manufactured from MDF or Medium Density Fiberboard, which is then coated in a Polypropylene film to give the MDF an even more durable finish and a nice even finish that identically mimics the look of a painted wood shutter. MDF is a wood composite that is made from recycled wood fibers, wax, and resins; which are compressed together using extreme pressure and heat. MDF is an extremely popular material for Plantation Shutters due to both the straightness of the material, and the fact that it is an extremely dense material, giving it a hardness rating of approximately 1200 on the Janka Hardness Scale (For Comparison, softer wood like Basswood rate at about 410 and hardwoods like Red Oak rate at 1290). Because MDF is a Wood Product, it can be milled, shaped, and assembled using more traditional joinery. The MDF is Milled into the components of the shutters, cut to size for production, then laminated with a polypropylene film. After the components are laminated, they are joined together using wood adhesives and either bridle joints or mortise and tenon joints.

Vinyl Composite Shutters

Solid Vinyl Composite Shutters are built from extruded PVC Resin. Unlike Hollow Vinyl Shutters, most “Solid Vinyl Composites” are extruded into a poly resin foam, fed through and extruder using pressure and heat to extrude them into the shapes of the shutter components. Those components are then cut to size and assembled using glues and other fasteners to hold everything together. Higher quality “Solid Composite” Shutter components are typically extruded around a more solid substrate, such as aluminum reinforcements since solid composite is typically heavy and has a considerable amount of flex in the raw material without additional reinforcement.

Hollow Vinyl Shutters

Hollow Vinyl Shutters are manufactured using hollow components that have been extruded from PVC or PolyResin 3. The components are extruded using a cellular design to add structural integrity, but also have the added benefit of insulating the shutter also. The thought process behind extruding in cellular profiles is that the components of the shutter are more lightweight, reducing wear and tear, and also by adding a structural integrity to the product to make it more resistant to sagging or flexing over time. Many are guilty of thinking that a hollow vinyl would be weaker than a solid vinyl shutter, but a good way to think about it is to think of the chassis of a vehicle. Vehicle chassis today are built in a boxed or cellular design, because of added resistance to bending or twisting. When extruded, the higher quality manufacturers finish the outer surface with a “satin” texture that gives the finish a more similar look to painted wood rather than a shiny vinyl finish. Hollow Vinyl Shutter components are extruded into the different parts that make up a shutter, cut to the size, and assembled together with stainless steel screws to hold everything together in a manner that make Hollow Vinyl Shutters one of the best choices for windows in extremely wet environments like showers, or even outdoor environments.

Vinyl Clad Shutters

Vinyl-Clad Shutters are typically constructed from 2 or more materials. The structural integrity of the shutter is typically contructed of either wood or aluminum for strength, and then wrapped in a vinyl “Shell” to give the shutter the water resisant, long-lasting finish that vinyl provides. Vinyl Clad shutter with aluminum reinforcements are typically an aluminum core extruded into the center of solid composite components; whereas Vinyl Clad Wood Shutters are built from milled wood shutter components that are then tightly inserted into hollow vinyl components. Aluminum core shutter components are typically assembled together using stainless steel screws to hold everything together. Vinyl Clad Wood Components are joined together using more traditional woodworking joints such as Mortise and Tenon.

It’s Award Time!

Who doesn’t love an award show? Here are the shutters that WE THINK are the Best in the following categories:

  • Best Overall Shutter - Real Wood Shutters

    Our award for best overall Plantation Shutter goes to Real Wood. When manufactured by a quality manufacturer using quality materials and finishes, no other shutter can compare to all of the features and the longevity of real wood. The best shutters in the world are all made from real wood, and there is a reason for it.

  • Best Looking Non-Wood Shutter - Wood Composite Shutters

    Our award for best looking Non-Wood Shutter goes to Wood Composite Shutters. The Polypropylene Laminate over MDF gives a finish that we feel is almost indiscernible from a real wood shutter.

  • Best Waterproof Shutter - Hollow Vinyl Shutters

    Our award for Best Waterproof Shutter was extremely difficult to decide between Solid Composite and Hollow Vinyl, but we finally chose Hollow Vinyl for it’s light weight and it’s added insulation. This was probably the closest decision we had to make!

  • Best Shutter for Special Shapes - Real Wood Shutters

    Our Award for Best Specialty Shaped Shutter goes to Real Wood. Because of Wood’s ability to be milled using a CNC Machine, there is pretty much no window shape that cannot be covered by a real wood shutter.

  • Best for Kids and Pets - Hollow Vinyl Shutters

    Our award for most Kid and Pet Friendly Shutters go to Hollow Vinyl for two reasons; One, is the durability of the vinyl itself, and the other is the ease of cleaning. Seriously, you could remove the shutter, and take it outside to hose it off if you really needed to.

In Summary

As you can see, it can be very hard to categorically say what type of shutters are best for everyone, because the truth is, there is no right answer. You could take the finest stained hardwood shutter in the world and stick it in your sauna, and watch it warp. Does that mean you shouldn’t use a stained hardwood shutter in your office? Of Course Not, but maybe you’d be best considering a non-wood shutter in your sauna! Everybody’s needs are different, which is where hiring a professional that can give you all of your options comes into the equation. You want somebody that can explain the options, explain what they think would be the right choice for your window, and then install the product professionally and up to the manufacturers standards. The best shutter in the world will still look terrible if it’s installed wrong. If you live in the Orlando area, we would love to be your choice for a Professional Shutter Company; but if you don’t live in our service area, drop us a line anyway, we may know a reputable professional in your area!