Plantation Shutters: An Introductory Guide

This short guide is meant to offer the reader a short introduction about the plantation shutters that we have to offer.

More to that you will understand the various components that make up a shutter, as well as the general process and lead times involved in a supply and fitting job.

1.What are Plantation Shutters ?

Introduction

Shutters originate from Ancient Greece, when stone masons were making window coverings out of marble. Each of the louvres at that time, being made out of marble, were fixed. Movement of the louvres was made available at a later time.

The term Plantation or Plantation Shutters, comes from the Southern United States and dates back as far as to the 1800’s, when larger estates, farms or properties that were growing cotton, sugar, tobacco or coffee were also known as Plantations.

Those properties were using mostly wooden made shutters to cover all their windows in order to protect against the sunlight or to achieve a level of privacy for the inside of the estate.

Certainly, Plantation Shutters are a window covering solution that helps with quite a few things such as light control, achieving a level of privacy and offering some insulation properties as well eg. Against noise, cold or excessive warmth coming from the outside.

Tier on Tier Plantation Shutters installed on Bay Window
Cafe Style Plantation Shutters Behind An Armchair
Mahogany Wood Plantation Shutters With Center Tilt Rod

2. What are plantation shutters made of ?

Materials

Plantation Shutters are usually made out of a few types of materials – most well-known ones being wood, PVC and MDF.

As popular choices for wooden shutters you can come across Basswood, Poplar, Teak, Ash or Pawlonia Wood. There are a few other wood options no doubt (eg. Plantation Shutters made out of Cedar) yet the above mentioned are the most commonly used being widely available, affordable and of high quality.

Wooden Plantation Shutters

Basswood and Poplar made Plantation Shutters are amongst the highest quality ones as the wood itself is durable and sturdy. It also provides the best resilience against higher heat or wetness. Furthermore, by having a denser grain will eventually lead to a smoother finish on the surface of the shutters. Both the Poplar and Basswood shutters are classified as hardwoods.

Pawlonia Wood is an Asian specific type of wood that grows very fast, making this particular type of wood affordable and durable enough.

This type of wood classifies more as a softwood rather than hardwood, as the wood essence itself is more porous than with Basswood or Poplar. As a result, the Pawlonia wood  is quite light. Window shutters made made out of pawlonia wood are much lighter than basswood or poplar shutters.

Contrary to shutters made out of basswood or poplar, Shutters made out of Pawlonia Wood (eg. our Classic Plantation Shutters Range) tend to be more affordable whilst still maintaing a high quality. There are scenarios where Pawlonia wooden shutters might be of a better fit than other types of wood. That is for conservatory windows (or for any huge window in general) as being lighter, the shutters panels keep some pressure off the hinges.

Manufacturing

Whilst almost the entire manufacturing of Pawlonia Wood Shutters is located in China/Asia – the lead times for getting the products in the UK can vary anywhere from 8 to 15 weeks or so – depending on manufacturer.

In the case of Poplar Shutters these can also be manufactured in Europe. Having the location advantage they can be supplied and fit within the UK in 3-5 weeks in most cases.

The Classic Shutters range that we have to offer, are made in China with a lead time of 8-12 weeks and are made out of Poplar wood. This option is the most cost-effective for plantation shutters that you might be able to find in the entire UK market. The Classic Range maintains the quality, stability and friendly pricing being made out of Poplar hardwood. It is manufactured in China within 8-12 weeks.

Our Premium Range is made entirely out of Basswood and adds in as a flavour, an amazing smooth finish compared to other materials. Manufacturing is done in China, again within 8-12 weeks.

The Elite Plantation Shutters range that we have to offer is European made and it is made out of Poplar hardwood. As a result of being made in Europe, the biggest advantage of Elite Shutters is that they’ve got the fastest lead time amongst wooden made shutters, in the entire UK. We can have the Elite Shutters supplied and fit within 3-5 weeks.

Composite PVC Plantation Shutters

Finally, the Mimeo Range in our portfolio – First of all, these are made having bathrooms and wet areas in mind. The Composite shutters are resilient against wet and humid conditions. Wooden Shutters are not meant to be installed in bathrooms or any other wet areas. Wood being a natural material that expands and contracts quite a lot under “pressure” from humid factors. This might cause the shutters to get damaged in time. Having Mimeo Composite Shutters in your bathrooms is the best choice overall, as the shutter is protected against humid and wet factors both on the short and on the long run.

We have two options for our Mimeo Shutters. One option manufactured in China where they are slightly less expensive yet you will have to wait for their arrival between 8-12 weeks. As an alternative, we can have them built in Europe from where you can have them within 3-5 weeks. Bare in mind that the configurations possible with the Mimeo range are somewhat limited in comparison to the Classic , Premium or Elite Ranges. One aspect being that Mimeo Shutters come in only a few variations of White colours. More to that, they be made only for rectangular windows. In the event where you have a bay window, all the sections of the bay will have to be done individually .

 

3. Various Components that make up plantation shutters

Components

A shutter or shutter panel is made out of a few components: the panel stiles, louvres, rails, frames, hinges, tilt rod and magnets.

Stiles, Rails and Louvres

The stiles are the vertical beams that support the louvres and the top and bottom rails. Stiles can come in a few design options and sizes.

As for the Rails, these can be either top or bottom rails, or mid rails if any. The Top and Bottom Rails are meant to keep the stiles and ultimately the louvres together nice and tight. As for the mid rail, this can be optionally used in order to overlay either a window divider or help with the stability of taller panels.

As opposed to the stiles, top and bottom rails which are somewhat fixed components. The mid rail is an optional component and can be placed on the panel at flexible positions as needed. Of course, there are some manufacturing limitations in regards to the mid rail positioning hence it’s better to discuss those directly with a member of our staff.

The louvres, also known as slats or lamellas, can come in various widths such as 64mm, 76mm, 89mm or 114mm. Bigger louvres tend to be more suitable for bigger or wider window panels.

Tilting Mechanisms

In regards to the tilt rods, we can offer a few options for those as well. Either have it centered on the panel, put on the side of the panel or hidden options such as Clearview Rod. The Clearview Rod is actually connected and visible in the back of the panel, not visible from the inside of the property.  For our Classic and Premium ranges, we can offer a Hidden or Concealed Tilt Rod. With this option,  the entire louvre tilting mechanism is built within the stiles of the shutter panel. Therefor you will not see a tilt rod neither on the front, nor on the back of the panel. The Hidden/Conceal Tilt Rod offers a more neat or modern look. However, the hidden/concealed rod does come at a slightly higher fee and will come along with some manufacturing height limitations.

Hinges

Additionally, on a shutter panel we can find the hinges and the frame of the shutters.

The hinges fix the shutter panel (made out of stiles, louvres, rails rods) into the Frame and allow for the panel opening. Hinges can come in various finishes. We have them available in: Pure White Colour, White Colour, Pearl Colour, Stainless Steel, Nickel, Bright Brass, Antique Brass, Black, and Hidden Hinges.   Whilst all the hinges options apply for our Classic and Premium products, on the Elite Range there are no Hidden Hinges available. For Mimeo Shutters there are limited options available as well. Only White Coloured and Stainless-Steel hinges are applicable to the Mimeo Range.

Frames

The frames of the Shutters, usually run on all four sides (Left, Top, Right, Bottom) by default or on a standard rectangular design. There are cases where plantation shutters can be done with only three frames. A bottom frame can be skipped for particular designs especially for shutters made for doors to avoid tripping hazards. Another scenario is for Café Style Designs, where the top frame can be skipped since the Café Style only covers the bottom half of the window. It is always up to the surveyor and the actual window layout to determine the best possible configurations.

Magnets

Magnets are used to keep the panels shut and in place within the frame. Magnets are mounted usually on the top and bottom frames and top and bottom panel rails. They are meant to keep the panels tight when closed. Magnets can be used in between two shutter panels as well to help with the closing in between panels – in this scenario the magnets are placed on the stiles of the panels.

 

 

4. The Supply and Fit General Process For Plantation Shutters

Lead Times

From the moment an order is placed and paid for as required, the order is then immediately sent to the factory for manufacturing.

The Elite Shutters Range, which are Manufactured in Europe, take cca. 2-5 days to enter manufacturing. Further to that, the entire manufacturing process takes between 1 week to ten days, whereas the finishing and painting process taking up to another 3-4 days.

Once the shutters are ready, then they are grouped into a delivery lot and dispatched with a lorry. Transit to UK usually takes 2-3 working days. So far making the lead time for delivery 3-5 weeks. When the factory is usually busy then it might take up to 5 weeks for them to arrive in UK from the moment of ordering. However when the factory is not that busy within a period, the shutters can be delivered at a faster rate, towards the 3-week mark.

The same process and lead times applies for the European Mimeo Shutters Range.

Our Classic, Premium and Mimeo Shutters (which are manufactured in China), have a longer transit time. Besides the steps described above and depending on where the factory is located from the nearest port, it might take cca 2-5 working days for inland transit,  from the factory to the port. Another possible 2-3 days for the goods to be loaded and the vessel to depart.

The longest period is the sea freight and that can take 4-5 weeks. Once the goods arrive in the UK port, that’s where customs and clearance might take another up to 1 week until delivery is arranged to our warehouses. All our ranges manufactured in China are currently on a 8-12 weeks lead time.

5. Slatted VS Solid Panel Plantation Shutters

Light Blocking

Slatted Plantation shutters are by all means not offering full blackout. There is always some light coming through between gaps between panels and frames or between louvres.

Realistically, for plantation shutters with louvres there is a margin of cca 10% of light coming through the gaps.

Should you wish to achieve further light blocking, then we recommend you get Solid Panel Shutters. The Solid Shutters can only be done on the Classic and Premium ranges. These will be able to block even more light from the outside, up to cca 98% or so. There will always be slight/minimal gaps between the panels and the frames that will allow some light to come through.

6. Warranties and Maintenance for Our Shutters

Aftercare

All our Plantation Shutters will come with a certificate of warranty.

The Classic, Premium and Elite Shutters ranges will come with 5 years warranty. As for the Mimeo Composite shutters, these will be covered by a 10 years warranty period.

These are Manufacturer Warranties and cover the product and finish of the product and its resilience against natural factors such as humidity, heat or any other normal or controlled conditions from within a property.

The warranties do not cover damages coming from direct sources as in the shutters being scratched, broken while hit or other similar situations. Please carefully read our terms and conditions and contact a member of staff for clarifications if needed.

Once the installation is completed and the balance (if any) on the job settled, then the warranty period will start.

Even if you happen to damage the shutters by mistake we can act very fast on carrying out repairs. For Elite Plantation Shutters we can have replacements or fixes carried in as fast as the same week. In contrast, if the product ordered is a Classic or Premium Shutter manufactured in China, any replacement components needed have to be ordered from the same factory in China. The process of getting spares from the factory can take as long as a good few weeks.

The shutters are easy to clean as it is a matter of mostly dusting them off only.

We can supply a special cleaning tool to make it easier for you during the cleaning process.

Always use a lint free cloth for the clean-up and avoid using any abrasives, alcohol based or solved based cleaners.  It is advised that you get in touch with a member of our staff for suggestions on how to properly look after the shutters.

 

 

7. Yes, Plantation Shutters are worth it

Conclusion

Plantation shutters seem to be a great investment for a variety of reasons:

Privacy and Light Control 

Plantation shutters can allow you a proper view of the outside while preventing people from seeing into your property.

Keeping the panels and louvres shut will minimise the amount of light that comes through. This allows you for a longer and better sleep. Whilst tilting the louvres open and also opening the panels will allow all the light to come through. As a result this provides for easy access to the window itself.

Insulation properties

Another great advantage of plantation shutters is the fact that they also offer certain insulation. They protect as well against the cold coming from outside, as well as against the warmth generated by the sun. You have your pick on whether you want the room to feel a bit warmer or chillier.

Durability

Blinds can have a similar look as plantation shutters, yet they are flimsy and can easily break or damage. Plantation shutters come with an improved design, are a lot sturdier and can be customised in many ways for their design.

Added intrinsic value to the property

As opposed to most curtains and blinds, plantation shutters add to the intrinsic value of the property itself.

If you are carrying out a renovation in your property, it would be a great idea to have shutters put in so that it can boost the price of the property.

Easy to Clean , Easy Maintenance and Fast Installation

Unlike other renovations or carpentry works, installing the shutters is a clean and straightforward process. There will be minimal mess involved during the installation process and the installation can be done relatively fast. Within 1 hour you can have installed 1 or even 2 shutters for your windows.

Cleaning-wise, it is all a matter of mostly dusting off the shutters and a damp cleanup once every few weeks.

During the aftercare period if something breaks, we can carry out repairs and provide replacements as needed and as fast as possible.

Low cost – High Quality

Due to the increased demand and competition in the UK market, plantation shutters are now more affordable than ever.

Our Classic Shutters offering the best value for the money spent – at the cost of waiting for at least 8 weeks. With our Classic Range, we can beat even MDF Pricing from our competitors.

However, should you want to have your shutters as soon as possible, the Elite Shutters Range, manufactured in Europe can arrive within 3-5 weeks. All this time improvement for only a fraction increase in price compared to the Classic Shutters range.

All in all, Plantation Shutters make for an amazing house transformation.

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