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Problems with mini blinds

What is a typical make ready step maintenance staff performs when turning an apartment? Replacing the blinds! In this article we will discuss some of the problems with mini blinds, and alternative options.

Problems with mini blinds

Mini blinds were designed with the DIY in mind. They are relatively easy to install, and are a cost effective solution. However, you do get what you pay for in the end, and mini blinds aren’t without their drawbacks.

  • Durability – If you have children, or have seen children with mini blinds, you can imagine! Mini blind slats are quite flimsy, and can be pulled out of place easily. If a slat is bent, it will likely have a permanent crease. Another issue is that the cord can become easily tangled.  Also, if you have pets that like to chew on things, mini blinds make a great chew toy!
  • Cleaning – Constant cleaning is another one of the problems. If dusting is your dream, it will come true if you have mini blinds. They are notorious for collecting dust. Depending on the types of foods you cook, or if someone is a smoker, this could cause discoloration, staining and grease build up.
  • Options – Among these other problems, when it comes to selection, your options are limited. If you have a room with a custom color, it may be difficult to find mini blinds in the color that you need. It’s almost as if you need to pick blinds first, the design the room around that!

However, custom wooden shutters built specifically for your windows, is the best way to go. They do everything mini blinds can do and more. Plus, they’re way more durable. Cleaning is a breeze and the list of options increases dramatically!  Reach out to  the folks a Kirtz Shutters, they are pros at what they do!

Kirtz Shutter Craftsmanship; what a quality finish adds to your custom shutter

Without a quality finish on  a custom shutter, the value created by using a high quality wood, and rigorous construction standards would be minimized.   Let’s take a look at how Kirtz Shutters achieves a  quality finish on our custom shutters. 

Linear Priming (painted shutters only)

Components of our painted maple shutter are primed in lineal form.  By priming in lineal form we can ensure an even coating of primer, up to two mill thickness on each part of the shutter.  A high quality prime helps the shutter take finish coats well.

Wood Grading (painted and stained shutters)

Not all components make the final cut for a Kirtz Shutter.  All of our components are inspected before they reach the production line and undesirable sections of wood with flaws are marked as not suitable for a Kirtz Shutter.

Prep Work~ Where the Magic Happens

Even the best quality wood has some imperfections.   To get a smooth finish involves a high level of attention to detail during prep work.   Imperfections are fixed during 2 different stages of manufacturing.  

The Production Line — Filler is applied to the any noticeable flaws in the wood and sanded out smooth.  

Brown and Sand — Shutters enter this area after they are built, and before they enter the finish room.  High intensity spotlights shine down upon the shutters, highlighting any slight flaw that might show up in the final product.  These minor flaws are fixed with putty and sanding, and then the finish sanding begins. 

Finish sanding is done by hand, with very fine sandpaper.  Every inch of the Kirtz Shutter is finish sanded, including the top of the tilt rod, an area that few manufactures take the time to address.  After final inspection, they are ready for finish.

shutters are inspected for flaws under high intensity lights

shutters are inspected for flaws under hign intensity lights

 

any small flaws are fixed before finish is applied

any small flaws are fixed before finish is applied

During finish Kirtz Shutters are hung from a track system on cars that allow the shutter to rotate completely.  This makes sure, whether painted or stained, each shutter receives an even amount of paint/stain on all parts of the shutters resulting in a smooth, even finish from any angle.

plantation shutters in the paint finish room

plantation shutters in the paint finish room

Painted Shutters receive  two coats of  lacquer paint finish on top of the primer.  In between coats, shutters are quality inspected.  All our paint has UV inhibitors in it to help keep your custom shutters looking great, even in the most intense sun.

Stained Shutters are sprayed with your stain color, typically a custom mix done just for you.  Each shutter receives two coats of stain.  In between coats, the shutters are taken down off the track, hand wiped and lightly sanded    This step is the differential between standard finish and a truly furniture quality finish.    Without it the shutter color would appear a bit opaque, what some people call “muddy” .  To finish up, we put two coats of clear finish on the shutters to protect the wood and bring up the beauty of the grain.   We use a 20 sheen, which gives a nice luster to the wood and provides the finish with depth.  

After finishing is complete, Kirtz Shutters sit overnight to let the finish have time to cure.  Depending on the time of the year, painted finishes are given extra curing time in a cool room.

While each area of our factory plays a key role in making the Kirtz Shutter a bench quality product,  the finish department plays a critical role in making the work of all the other departments really shine.

Kirtz Shutter Craftmanship; assembling a quality custom shutter

The assembly department is responsible for turning lengths of components into a plantation shutter.

First, all parts are cut to length according to the exact specifications for your custom shutter.  After parts are cut, they are placed onto a cart with job sheets that details each opening in the order.

At Kirtz we take a few extra steps during assembly before the panel comes together to make sure that your shutter is built to the highest of quality standards.

Each tilt rod is given personal attention.  We shape the top of the tilt rod in a machine we designed to give the rounded top that is unique to a Kirtz Shutter.  Then, the top of each rod is sanded smooth so it has the same quality finished look as other parts of our shutters.

tilt-rod-shaping

After shaping it is sanded smooth

After shaping it is sanded smooth

Before the shutter is put together, each louver end is burnished with a sander.  Again, this extra step allows the ends of the louvers to accept the painted finish better, and eliminates the rough ends you would typically find with louvers that are cut, but not sanded.

Burnishing louver ends

Burnishing louver ends

Next, the louvers and tilt rod are fed through a machine that attaches them together with staples and puts pins in the end of each louver, and your shutter panel is ready to be put together.

Joinery of a Kirtz Shutter

At Kirtz we use dowels to join the stiles and rails of each shutter together.   Wood glue is put into each hole that will be receiving a dowel.  Then we use dowels that are slightly larger than the hole they are inserted into.   This requires the use of a hydraulic clamp to put the stiles and rails together.  After the shutter has been clamped together, small pin nails are applied to the backside of the shutter through the dowels, giving it an extra dose of reinforcement.

This method has been used by Kirtz for many years, and we confidently stand behind the joinery of a Kirtz Shutter for a lifetime.

The shutter comes together on the clamp table and is pin nailed for extra strength

The shutter comes together on the clamp table and is pin nailed for extra strength

Framing

Just like a door hangs in a frame, many times your  hardwood shutter will be in a frame.  We have several framing options at Kirtz to accommodate a variety of decors and types of windows.    After your shutters have been assembled, the frames that surround them are built.

At Kirtz we customize many of our frames so that they fit around window cranks and lever locks.  By doing these notches in the factory when possible, the notch receives a finish coat of paint instead of touch up in the field.

For more information on notches, see my post about plantation shutters in casement windows.

This completes your shutter assembly, next stop finish department!

Kirtz Shutter Craftmanship; Making the parts makes the difference for your custom shutters

Hardwood shutters by Kirtz start at our factory as raw lumber.  We typically buy direct from the best lumber mills across the country, with a great deal of our lumber coming from the Northern US.

A load of lumber for Kirtz Shutter, before sorting

A load of lumber for Kirtz Shutter, before sorting

Lumber goes through the following process to become parts for your plantation shutters.

All lumber is tested upon arrival for proper dryness.  Using lumber that has been wet, or is not properly kiln dried could result in warping.  Obviously, this would be bad news for a shutter, so each load is tested immediately upon arrival to be sure that it meets the criteria for furniture quality use.

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Painted Custom Shutters… Why Use Maple?

At Kirtz we like to do things different, not just simply for the sake of being different, but because we want to bring something above average and a little special to our customers.  In our painted plantation shutter, that something special is the wood we use.

The founder of our company was a woodworker, in fact he got his start in the industry as a trim carpenter until the economy and life took him a new direction (I’m sure a few of you can relate given the world’s present state).  So when he decided to make shutter, he picked the wood that from his experience, would the best wood for a plantation shutter– MAPLE.

Why Maple?   In one word, STRENGTH.

 Maple is about twice as dense as shutter industry standard woods such as basswood and poplar.   What does that mean for the you, the buyer?  An awful lot in the long run.  Your shutter is put together with fasteners, staples that hold the louvers into the tilt rod.  Time and use of the product stresses these fasteners.  In softer woods, such as basswood and poplar, they often come loose over time.  The result is that the shutter does not function as it was originally intended.   A Kirtz Shutter is guaranteed never to have this problem, and if it did, it would be covered by our warranty.

Have you ever had a piece of pine furniture?  Did you notice how easy it was to dent the wood if something accidently bumped or banged into it?  The same is true of a poplar or basswood shutter, they can easily dent and ding at the slightest impact, thus increasing the look of wear and tear on the shutter.

The strength of maple also gives us ultimate FLEXABILITY IN DESIGN. 

In Height:  The Kirtz Shutter does not need a midrail (also called a divider rail) until after 96″ in height.  Industry standard is 72″.  That means you can have two more feet of unobstructed louver space by using a custom shutter by Kirtz out of maple.

In Width:  With shutters warrantied up to 38″ in width, customer’s have the ultimate flexibility in designing their shutters for the best fit to their space without the constraints of industry standard shutters.

Often I meet with customers who are confused with the variety of materials that a plantation shutter can be made from and the variety of pricing that goes along with them. 

My advice to them, and to you, is this — 

Plantation Shutters are one of the largest financial investments in window treatments that you can make.    They will provide beauty and protection for many, many years.  All shutters are NOT created equal.   In an economy where every dollar counts,  we all want to make sure we spend our money wisely.  

Choose the plantation shutter that will provide you the best product experience over the life of your shutter, not just in the beginning.  And just as important, choose a company that you can trust to provide you great customer service, both before the sale and years after your shutters are installed.  That, in my life experience, is true value that pays dividends long after the check has cleared the bank. 

I’ll end this (and step off my soap box) after I share my favorite quote.  I try to live it every day, in the products I represent to the products I purchase for myself and my home.

“The bitterness of poor quality, lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”