In this article, we will review the three different base types of shutters.
The first type is a “Composite” shutter. Composite shutters are constructed using MDF (medium density fiberboard) and have a plastic wrap around the MDF to create the surface. Composite is a very dense and product which in turn makes it a very heavy shutter with limitations. Because of the limitations of composite, it is the least desirable product for shutters. The way I help my customers understand the difference in quality between Composite and Wood shutters is in relation to a kitchen cabinet made from MDF as opposed to a solid wood material. Composite shutters are rated to 140 degrees. Any temperature above 140 degrees will void the warranty because this is the point at which the glue in them becomes active and could induce sagging in your shutter. Composite shutter also size restrictions on panel width and height. A composite panel can only be made to a width of 30”, so a window that is 6ft wide will have to be 4 panels and that can create a very busy look sometimes. The height of composite panels is also constrained, once the height reaches 5ft a divider rail in needed so the shutter doesn’t fail due to structural integrity. Composite shutters are very hard to repair and in most cases, can’t be and have to be replaced. That adds up to the cost of ownership, making it more expensive than other products. A Composite shutter, in my profession opinion, is the worst option for shutters in Arizona. Composite shutters are only available in white.
A Poly shutter is made from 100% PVC (Polyvinyl chloride). There are different ways that a Poly shutter is manufactured. Sometimes they are made 100% solid, sometimes they are made Hollow. Sunland Shutters knows the best way to make a Poly shutter is to reinforce it with an aluminum core. The Sunland aluminum reinforced Poly shutters are flame retardant/fire resistant and are Green Guard certified with no VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compound). Poly shutters because of their weight also have width and height limitations. For this reason Sunland Poly shutters are made with the aluminum core to help reduce weight and help reinforce the shutter. The Sunland Polycore shutter is the ONLY poly shutter that has no limitations. Poly shutters work great in high moisture areas because they are impervious to water. The fact that Poly shutters are 100% moisture resistant makes them a great choice for bathrooms. They are also great for areas of the country that have high humidity, such as coastal areas. In Arizona, the only need for a Poly shutter would be in a bathroom or another room with a high moisture content. In relation to the composite shutter they are also very heavy and have limitations. Poly shutters are only available in white. After 140 degrees, a Poly shutter will become malleable. Once the shutter cools it will shrink.
A wood shutter is always the best option for the hot and dry climate in Arizona. There are different types of wood shutters. “Basswood is KING” and the best choice above all the other wood products available. Basswood, as a product, is half the weight of composite or poly, which in turn will create less stress on the structure and integrity as other possible products. Basswood is kiln dried which prevents warping and cracking in the hot Arizona sun. Basswood is a farmed product, so we are not stripping our natural forests of their beauty. Because Basswood is a natural product, it can be manipulated during fabrication to create arch shapes, french doors and other irregular shaped windows. Basswood in the raw form mimics Maple, which lends itself to being painted or stained in your desired choice of color. Poplar wood, which is sometimes used, has a green hue in its raw form and will not accept stains very effectively. The moisture in Poplar cannot be reduced to a suitable level for Arizona which means that if its used it will continue to dry in your window and will more than likely warp. Alder wood is sometimes used, but is traditionally only stained. Alder is not as resilient due to its soft nature and will dent easily. Alder is also high in sap which allows bleeding to the surface of the wood. Basswood is a “sapless” wood, also known for its longevity and cost of ownership which is why it is “KING”.
If you’re interested in discussing your shutter options, including the ever popular plantation shutters, please get in touch with Bo Knows Shutters & Blinds. You can reach us via telephone at (480) 495-0343 or use our contact form.