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functional shutters

Functional wood shutters and hardware were expensive but necessary exterior appointments on the widows of historic homes. Initially, ground floor shutters provided security against attack by Indians and roaming brigands. Outdoor shutters also served as a first barrier against winter winds and summer sun – important considerations when a wood fire was the only available interior climate control. As our colonial cities grew homes became more densely packed with pedestrian traffic at the door stoop, exterior shutters were closed and locked to provide privacy from passersby and neighbors.

shutter example
shutter example

Classic American architectural styles were heavily influenced by the exterior shutters common to all. The size and location of the windows was in large part determined by the exterior wooden shutters that would cover the windows. Sufficient room had to be left between adjacent windows to allow for their shutters to rest against the exterior when open - without over-lapping each other. The relationship between window size and separation and the fabric of the shutters between contributed much to the balance and symmetry inherent in classic American homes.


shutters that work

Functional exterior shutters do three things:

  1. they fasten parallel to the home in the open position using:  Shutter dogs or other Holdopens

  2. they swing from the open position to cover the window when closed using: Hinges & Pintles

  3. they lock in the closed position using:  Shutter locks or Stays

Regardless of the period and style of the structure and shutters, it is the shutter hardware that provides the three required actions.


hinges and pintles

Hinges and pintles fasten the shutter to the structure and provide the means for the shutter to swing between the open and closed positions.  The pintle fastens to the structure, the hinge is fixed to the shutter and swings on the pintle pins.

Shutter Hinges and pintles are typically fitted with matching offsets to insure parallelism between the wooden shutter and the home.  Give us your dimensions and we’ll help you with that bothersome but important detail.  As with all early shutters and hardware, brandywine shutter hardware is all “lift-off”; designed to easily lift the shutter and hinges from the house for painting and maintenance at ground level.

Shutter hinges and pintles to mount shutters on a frame house are dimensioned quite differently from those required to swing shutters open and closed on a masonry structure with recessed windows.

shutter mounting example
shutter mounting example

shutter hold opens

Hold the shutters against the house in the open position and keep your valuable wooden shutters from flapping and banging in the wind. 

Hold-opens are seen in two general forms: shutter hooks or stays which fasten to the window sill and engage the shutter in the open position;

shutter tieback

shutter tieback

and shutter tie-backs which fasten to the wood or masonry exterior of the home.  These tie backs, or shutter dogs, overlap the shutter holding them snug against the face of the house in the open position.  When rotated 90*, the dog clears the shutter which can then be swung to the closed position.

Most shutter dogs mount at the bottom of the window, one half to two thirds of the way across the shutter.  “Offset” shutter dogs mount at the outside edge of the shutters.  They were common on door shutters, places where little room at the bottom of the shutter (tall shutters close to a porch deck or where a roofline runs immediately below second floor shutters), or to raise the dogs to eye-level for interest.


shutter locks

The ultimate purpose of functional exterior shutters is to lock in the closed position…. If the shutters don’t lock, the shutters don’t function.   Without locks or latches to secure the closed shutters against storm winds and possible intruders, your investment in quality shutters becomes just a visual appointment.

I like shutter locks.  Even if you don’t plan on closing your shutters, locks are one hardware element visible when the shutters are open – their strong horizontal lines accentuate your wooden shutters.  Shutter locks represent a relatively inexpensive investment that adds much to the period look of your home.

shutter lock

questions about shutters


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