Vinyl Shutters Vs Wood Shutters
Vinyl shutters at Orange County Shutters? We get asked almost every day why wood shutters are better than vinyl shutters. There is a confusion as to what is best for the customer. They are getting information that vinyl shutters are better from some companies and that wood shutters are better from other companies. I am going to do my best to explain once and for all the differences between wood shutters and poly or vinyl shutters. This will allow you, the consumer can make an educated decision as to what will work better for your window covering needs.
Lets start with a good quality wood shutter. Lets face it some companies tell you that you don’t want wood because they warp, crack, fade, and you’ll have to repaint them all the time. This is a sales tactic to get you to buy vinyl shutters, but we will get to that a bit later. If you are looking at a good quality wood shutter you need not worry about any of those things. What is a good quality wood shutter you ask? Well here is what my almost two decades of being in the industry has taught me. Look at the anatomy of the shutter. A good quality wood shutter should be made out of 100% quality basswood (American Linden Tree) and not be composite, particle board, or any other manufactured wood. Nothing but solid basswood is the best median produce a good quality wood shutters. Now you have to be careful when comparing this because particle board and composites are made from 100% basswood, however they are wood shavings. Pretty much they sweep up the dust from the wood and press it together or add a composite material and call it 100% basswood. OK true it is made from 100% basswood, but the quality just isn’t there. Another thing you want to look at is the paint. In my opinion you need 3 coats of base coat and 2 coats of top coat on a painted shutter in order to make a true even finish in the shutters. On a stained shutter you want to make sure that stain is even and that the clear coat is smooth and not hazy. The painting process can also make a difference. You want to make sure that every part of the wood is sealed 100%. Some companies will paint the shutters with all the louvers together to save time. With that process the paint in uneven and the sides of the louvers are usually rough and not fully painted. This may cause any moisture to penetrate the wood and crack the paint. In order to get a good paint job each part should be painted apart and then put together and touched up . This will ensure that the wood is 100% sealed and even throughout the whole shutter and will ensure the paint will last a very long time. Another feature that most people who have had shutters are aware of are the staples. You want at least a 5/8″ to 3/4″ staple to ensure that the staples are locked well into the grain of the wood and will not come out. This is a very common problem for many customers with poor quality shutters. The last thing it the joints. Most companies use dowels to join together their joints and yes some are good, but most are just not sturdy enough to hold the panels together for a long period of time. Most companies use dowels because all the simply have to do is drill holes in the wood and is both cost affecting and less time consuming. On a better quality shutter there will be mortise and tenon joints. What they are is a solid piece of wood cut out and fitted onto the other piece like a puzzle. What that does is ensures a tighter fit and a stronger bond between the wood since it is wood married to wood unlike the dowels what are wood, dowel, then wood. One important feature are the catches for the shutter. Magnets are a much better option that catches since then usually never fail. If they are recessed magnetic catches that is even better since they are hidden from the back of the shutter creating a cleaner look from the outside. The last this to look for in a good quality wood shutter are the hinges. A better shutter will have full panel hinges to ensure the weight of the shutter is evenly distributed between the panels and the frames. These type of hinges are usually mortised in on the panel side to ensure a tighter fit between the frame and panel. A cheaper and not to strong hinge is a butterfly. This hinge has a larger part that is cut out from a smaller part and does not have as much support and is again cheaper and easier to put together. Another thing to look for is simple look at the sample, feel it, get to know it. You should be able to tell the quality and the differances between a good quality and a poor quality. If you look for the little things in a real wood shutter you will not only get a good quality shutter, but one that will last.
Now lets talk about the vinyl shutters or poly shutters. Most companies will push these for a couple reasons. The first being is that in some cases it is cheaper then the wood and some sales people feel that customers don’t care about quality that it is just price. In my opinion I do not feel that is true and think that is the customer is well informed that they should have the opportunity to decide what they want, just not have numbers thrown down there throat. Well let me get back to the facts. These vinyl shutters are made from poly, vinyl, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) simply put plastic. They are a hard vinyl overlay and then a liquid poly is injected into the mold (air bubbles and all) to create the louvers and frames. Some better quality are renforced with aluminum, but not all are. They say that they will not yellow of crack, however I have seen samples with the vinyl shutters overlay cracked along the edges and as far as yellowing most old poly things that I see that are exposed to the sun have become yellow, dry, and have cracked, but that is just my opinion. They say that they insulate better that a wood shutter, but the testing they do are only done on a test sample that is 1″ x 1″ and not on a whole shutter. They are for a fact heavier that a wood shutter since real wood shutters have cells that held moisture and when it is dried out they become hollow making them light is weight and in my opinion insulate better. Now since vinyl shutters are molded they are simply put a cut down product. This means the cut down the frames and louvers then throw them together and that’s is. Most of the material for vinyl shutters is imported as well. The reason that many sales people will put them is not for the quality, but that they are cheap and a fast turn around due the them being a cut down product. The faster they are installed in the customers home the faster the sales person gets the commission check. I do not think that these are good business practice and feel that it is better to educate the customer and let them decide what the better investment in window coverings will be for them.
I hope I have put a little more information in your head about the differences between a wood shutter and a vinyl shutters. Now you should be able to decide what will be a better product for your vinyl shutters needs. In some cases I have used vinyl shutters in showers were water is going to be hitting the vinyl shutters for a long period of time and remain wet, but for the most part after I educate my customers on the differences they have almost always decide on the wood, but like I always say I will let you decide what works best for your window covering investment.