Why Basswood is best for shutters

The Basswood tree provides the best quality wood for shutter building. It thrives from SouthEastern Canada right down to South Carolina and inland to Oklahoma and Nebraska. A large tree, it can reach to 120' in height, and despite growing twice as fast as American Beech and birch species, the wood is resistant to splitting - an important quality for shutter timber to have.

Basswood characteristics

  • Does not warp
  • Lightweight yet very strong
  • Uniform grain for a beautiful stain finish
  • Low in resin and tannin which may bleed through finish
  • Renewable resource which is replenished as it is harvested
  • Superior gluing and finishing properties

All these properties make Basswood the ideal timber for shutter construction - especially here in Arizona with the harsh summer climate. Other shutter timbers include Oak, Maple, Poplar, Cedar, Alder, and Pine. However, most of these woods have one or more drawbacks from Basswood, which still reigns supreme as the #1 choice in shutters.

Non-wood shutters

We are often asked about non-wood shutters such as synthetics, plastics, fauxwood and vinyl. While many non-wood products include wood in their name, don't be fooled! Most contain no wood at all. They are generally limited in options, especially color range, and look, feel, and sound like plastic.

Synthetics cost less to manufacture, but are heavy and will tend to sag over a few years time. And they are manufactured from non-renewable resources.

How to spot a good quality interior shutter

Here's a quick primer on spotting what makes a good quality shutter. When looking at samples, keep these points in mind.

  1. Shutters should have proper tension on the louvers. Operation of the shutters should be smooth and stay correctly tensioned throughout the life of the product. Some manufacturers offer "tension screws" on their products. While this may seem a great idea, regular tightening of the screws will, over time, cause differential tensioning of individual blades and poor operation of the shutter unit. Non-wood shutters generally have very tight tension making operation difficult.
  2. Shutters should be built of a quality material. As mentioned above, Basswood is the best material available in the USA to construct interior shutters from.
  3. Shutters should be purchased from a reliable company. When you go down to your local "big box store", how well trained are the CSRs? Do they all know exactly what is good and bad in shutters? Don't take our word for it, go and ask them some questions! And do your due diligence on pricing. Many prospective purchasers think wood is out of their budget and will opt for what they think are cheaper non-wood products. Alas, all that's cheaper is the quality and longevity! Ask us - we can probably have quality Basswood shutters in your home for cheaper than non-wood shutters fromyour local "big box"!
  4. Hinges should be mortised into the shutter. Mortised hinges allow for tight fitting of shutter units in their frames. This means better seal, so less light coming through.
  5. Rabetted stiles between panels. Rabbetting stiles allows for a snug, secure fit where shutter units close on each other. Cheaper quality builds don't offer rabbetting as it increases the cost, but cuts down on your enjoyment.
  6. Check out the sample. How does it feel? How does it operate? Do you like the look/style? What are the options available? Hold up the shutter in one of your windows to see if you like it.
  7. Shutters should have a quality finish. What finishes are offered? Paint should be smooth and unblemished. Stains should have a protective top coat.
  8. Shutters should be custom built for each window. Your "standard" 5' x 5' window may not have a 5' x 5' hole! During construction of the home there are many variables that come into play. Every window should be measured by an experienced technician as these are the parameters your shutter will be built to. This is not the time for "near enough"!
  9. Ask about the warranty. What is the warranty? How long is it for? And what does it cover?
  10. Shutters are best installed by the company that makes them. The company who made the shutter knows their shutter - who else best than them to install it?