shutter illustration

Shutters 101: Plantation Shutter Basics

November 08, 2011

Plantation Shutters have become a very popular window covering over the past decade. Consumers love the versatility, functionality, and durability of interior plantation shutters. The right shutter can look beautiful in any home and with any design style.

Founded in 1978, with so many years of experience manufacturing top-quality plantation shutters, Sunburst Shutters & Window Fashions offers this brief Shutters 101 blog for anyone shopping for plantation shutters. We’ll walk you through the plantation shutter basics.

The basic elements of any shutter include a top rail and bottom rail (horizontal pieces), stiles (the vertical pieces), louvers (which attach between the stiles and rails), a tilt rod, and a frame. Regardless of the material, these components make up a shutter.

Shutter mock up 

In a multiple shutter panel window opening, the adjoining stiles can either be rabetted (the 2 adjoining stiles look like 2 opposite “L” shapes closing together), astragal (one stile has a framed piece that stretches beyond the edge and closes over the other) or with weather-stripping (interlocking rubber pieces that connect on each panel to seal out airflow).

It is best to use a shutter with a frame. Attaching a shutter panel directly to a window allows more light and airflow into the room than necessary. Shutter frames also provide a nice casing around the shutter panels and the window itself. There are 4 general types of frames:

  1. L frames sit inside the window opening flush against the wall.
  2. Outside mounted frames are attached outside the window opening— best for use on windows with existing window casing or with windows that tilt in for washing.
  3. Z frames fit inside the window but have decorative trim that extends onto the wall around the window and looks like a casing for the window.
  4. Sill frames are made to sit on an existing window sill. While the existing sill may protrude out into the room, the sill frame will not extend beyond that.

Louvers are attached to the stiles with louver pins, called a tension control pin. These are what the louvers rotate on when the tilt rod is moved. The louvers are attached to the tilt rod with staples or fasteners. If a louver separates from the tilt rod, it is typically because the staple comes out. Better quality shutters such as the Polywood shutter don’t have any issues with staples because Sunburst Shutters heat injects them so they form a bond with the tilt rod.

Another sign of a good quality shutter is that the louvers close completely and the tilt rod fits into the cut out (called a “ mouse hole”). Louvers that do not close completely are a sign that your shutters are not likely built out of quality materials and won’t provide optimal control of light and airflow.

For more tips on buying shutters beyond shutters 101, visit the 10 Tips for Buying Plantation Shutters or any of the shutter pages here at, or call toll free 877-Sunburst and ask for a qualified representative to come to your home and show you how plantation shutters can fit in your home.