Designing Shutters: Your guide for choosing shutters – Sunshade Blinds & Drapery

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What goes into designing shutters?

Here at Sunshade Blinds & Drapery, we are asked this common question almost on a daily basis, so we decided to put together a guide with helpful tips for designing shutters. We won’t get into mounting and installation/framing requirements, as we will cover those basics in an upcoming post for you as well. The type of shutters we are considering for this blog are Eclipse shutters however, most manufactures like Maxxmar and Hunter Douglas also use the same design options as well in case you are curious.

Let us begin with Louvers.

Louvers are also commonly known as slats, they come in 3 different sizes (seen below Fig 1.1) for you to choose from which offer different benefits and function. The louver size you select will depend not only on your personal preference but how much mounting depth is available for your windows. That being said, mounting depth can be overcome simply by adding extension frames or longer hinges to your windows. Most homes with casing windows can easily handle 3.5’’ and even 4.5’’ Louvers.

The most popular louver size is the 3.5’’ Louver, it allows for a much better view than the 2.5″ Louver without having a bulky look (a lot of customers refer to 4.5’’ Louver as bulky). Where we see a lot of 4.5″ Louvers are for homes with many large windows, or estate homes who tend to go for the 4.5’’ Louver as it doesn’t seem bulky in large windows.

The 2.5″ Louver has been referred to as a more classic look and feel for window frames. When vinyl shutters were first introduced in the late 80s early 90s, they only used 2.5″ Louvers for their models, which would explain why so many customers tend to select this style when matching existing shutters in their homes.

3 louver sizes

Control Options

There are 2 control options for our shutters being the Traditional Tilt-Bar (seen below on the left), and the Clearview option on the right. While some of our customers prefer the Classic styling of the Tilt-bar for opening and closing the louvers, others prefer to grab 1 louver and operate the louvers that way (it’s also a lot easier to clean). In case you are wondering how the Clearview option opens without a tilt-bar, this option has a series of connects on the back of the shutter, that opens all the shutter louvers, offering an unspoiled view as well as easy maintenance.

Both systems are designed to keep the louvers in sync when opening or closing the shutters.

**Important note: There are some internal-gear system shutters that start to work out of sync as they get older. This usually requires them to be shipped back to the factory to be repaired however with the Clearview system, this is not required and the shutters can usually be fixed on site by either a technician or the homeowner.

Shutter Colours

Currently Eclipse Shutters offer four different colours. Other manufactures offer similar colours mainly White (cotton) and off-white (pearl), but some like Maxxmar offer an array of colours that can be anywhere from pink to black.

With vinyl shutters it is generally a good idea to match the colour of your trim and moulding to the  colour of the shutter, although it is to your preference.


Arches of the following shapes are now available in vinyl. This is a HUGE success because these shapes are actually operable, available in Octagon, Hexagon, Full Rake, Half Rake, Symmetrical Angle Top, Angle Top, Half-Circle, Eyebrow, Tunnel, Elliptical, and Quarter-Circle.  The picture shows all of them with a tilt bar, however clearview option is also available. This is perfect for matching existing shutters in your home.

Divider rails and French door Cut-outs

Divider Rail is the term used to describe what is more or less a “break” in the panel of the shutter, this allows the top sections of the shutters louvers to operate independently from the bottom section. This is especially important in bedrooms and bathrooms where “neck high” privacy is required. Allowing natural light into the room while still providing privacy.  The French door cut-outs allow shutters to be placed on French doors that have handles in the way of the shutter.  This keeps the functionality of the door without having to change to a door knob.

Divider rails are ONLY required if the panel is over 60” high. Sometime we place them on windows that are less than 60” to match taller windows in the same room. Sometimes consumers would rather have no divider rail and just tilt the louver the opposite way, this limits your view but still allows light into the room.  Divider rails can also be ordered with a groove cut out of them so they act as a handle to open and close the shutter. This is more often seen on patio door shutters where they are opening and closing regularly

Patio Doors.

This must be the single most common place to install shutters. It’s usually in a kitchen, walk-out basement or living room and is a high traffic area. Take a look at the picture of the patio door shutter above,  you will notice the handle is on the right side of the door and a cabinet is in the way if you were to install the shutters to open to the right side. This would result in an awkward walk in and out of the door in addition to damaging your shutters and cabinets.

This installation required the use of a Bi-Fold Track System, similar to the way a closet door works.  It allows the entire 4 panels to retract to the left side of the frame without sagging down to the floor.   There is also a regular Bi-Fold installation where 2 panels swing left and 2 panels swing right (most common). Also available is a BI-Pass system (panels slide over each other instead of folding) for this type of installation. Notice the Divider Rail has a groove cut out to act as a handle for the door to open and close.

Other Design Options

Rooms Dividers are an excellent way to keep that elegant design, but allowing a cost effective durable alternative to a retractable wall. They can also be used as closet doors for lofts or other areas that would require separating space. Great when matching existing shutters on the windows, they can even be used on skylight windows. Operated by a simple extension pole.

Now that we have reviewed what goes into designing shutters and deciding on what best system would suite your needs, I hope you will have an easier time selecting and deciding on your new shutters.

Feel free to contact us directly by sending us a message Here, if you have any questions for selecting your shutters, we would be glad to help. Also, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for upcoming specials and the latest happenings or sign up to our newsletter to take advantage of great savings! .