How to Fix Shutters When Louvers Won’t Stay Open

Fix Shutters When Louvers Won’t Stay Open

Sometimes, over time,  louvers on plantation shutters cease to stay in the position they are set.  Fortunately, there is a simple fix to this problem.

Why does this happen?

Wood is a porous material, even with a finish on it.  This means that it will slightly shrink and swell as the humidity of a room changes.  The is most noticeable during season changes, from winter to spring and summer to fall.  This expansion and contraction changes the amount of space between the louvers and stiles (vertical piece of the shutter) thus changing the amount of tension placed on the louvers to hold them in their set position.

What is the solution?

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Bahama Exterior Shutters by Kirtz

Although Kirtz Shutters are primarily interior, at a special request for a previous customer, we recently built Bahama style exterior wood shutters.

There are a wide variety of Bahama style shutters available today.   Solid construction methods and quality raw materials are important to get the longest life out of your shutters.

The Materials

To start with we used cypress wood.  Cypress is a great choice for exterior projects.  Cypress generates cypressine, which is its own preservative oil.  This makes it naturally resistant to insects, decay and other damaging elements.  All components were made of solid pieces, including the stiles.

The Construction

In a traditional shutter, louvers are held into place with pins.  These pins allow the louvers to pivot open and closed.  A Bahama style shutter has fixed louvers, and no tilt bar.   To hold the louvers in place we cut a tenon in the stile to receive the louver.  Then the louver is then slid into the stile 1/4″ deep on each side.  Next, the stile and rail are doweled and secured with exterior glue.  A screw is inserted in between the two dowels for extra strength and the hole is filled.

To finish, the shutters were coated with a marine grade exterior quality sealer so that they are further protected.

The Installation

Installed with traditional Bahama style hinges and adjustable arms, these exterior shutter provide both beauty and protection.

Bahama shutters provide more visibilty when open, by Kirtz Shutters

Bahama shutters provide more visibilty when open, by Kirtz Shutters

Bahama hardware allow these custom shutters to tilt out

Bahama hardware allow these custom shutters to tilt out

bahama shutter block western sun, offer privacy on this deck

bahama shutter block western sun, offer privacy on this deck

Close up of fixed louvers for bahama shutters

Close up of fixed louvers for bahama shutters

Plantation Shutters in Architectural Shapes

Occasionally we will get a request to make a shutter shape that is quite unique.   This presents an interesting challenge to the specialties department who builds all of our plantation shutters out of different shapes.

Curved Plantation Shutter
This is not your standard treatment for a bay window.  The window and glass this unit was built for actually curved, and the client wanted curved shutters to treat it.  One of the most challenging shapes we’ve ever built, and the most unique.

curvedlouverweb

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Custom Louvered Doors

Kirtz is always doing something customized for our plantation shutters, from the finishes applied to the specs, we are very flexible about doing what it takes to meet our customers needs.

Recently 2 pair of custom doors moved through our production line with some very unusual specifications.  They were to be used as sliding pocket doors in a dining room.

The unique specs on these custom shutter doors were as follows (see photos below):

  • One stile was 5″ wide, the other 4″ wide, so that when taking into consideration the overlap inside the pocket, when they were pulled shut the doors would look symmetrical.
  • Each door was composed of an inner and outer stile.  The outside stile was 2 1/4″ thick, and the inner, drop down stile was 2″ thick with 1 3/4″ face.
  • All joints were mitered, instead of our standard butt joint.
  • Customers own, custom blended custom latex enamel was used, instead of our oil based lacquer finish.
  • Panels were 112″ high

These doors were quite different than anything else that has been through our factory before, but we were happy to contribute to this project.

If you need a shutter, louvered door or other product with unique specifications call Kirtz Shutters, we are ready to help!

Custom Louvered Doors

Custom Louvered Doors

Close up of door, showing special custom stile/rail configuration

Close up of door, showing special custom stile/rail configuration

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.