Restoration Guide: Windows and Doors Shutters

Barbara Marquand

Editor's Note: This is article 12 of 12 in Chapter 4: The Windows and Doors Guide of Old House Web Restoration Guide. This guide was developed and edited for old homes from original materials in the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Rehab Guide.


Section 1--The Basics

A wide variety of awnings and shutters are on the market, including those with automatic controls for easy operation. Fixed shutters that are applied to the home for decoration are available in low-maintenance materials, such as vinyl and aluminum. Homeowners serious about historic preservation, though, generally prefer operable shutters for both their function and authenticity. Rotating louvers--the horizontal slats--let you control heat, glare, and ventilation as well as preserve privacy. Shutters made from aluminum provide the greatest protection against the elements and are the best choice if you live in areas prone to high winds or hurricanes.

Awnings can reflect up to 90 percent of sunlight, which can help cut down on air-conditioning costs. Be careful in choosing new awnings, though, because some types actually trap warm air against windows. Traditionally made from canvas, awning fabrics now are available in rot-resistant materials that can withstand prolonged exposure to UV rays.

Section 2--Shutters and Awnings: Repair or Replacement?

2.1: Repairing Awnings and Shutters

Before you decide to repair your awnings or shutters, take a hard look at them to assess whether their styles are appropriate for your old house. Perhaps the original section was all wrong. If you want to preserve shutters, see the window frames section for more information on repairs using traditional methods. You can give new life to old awnings by replacing the fabric with durable materials.

2.2: Replacing Awnings and Shutters

Replacement is the best option if the condition of shutters and awnings is beyond hope or the styles don't match your old house. New shading devices and shutters are easier to operate and more durable, and they can provide energy savings--possibly even reductions in your insurance premium. For preservation projects, though, replicating historic awnings and shutters is often expensive and difficult, so refurbishment might be the way to go.

Search Improvement Project