Installing window shutters

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Beautiful to look at and great for insulation, security and control over light levels, window shutters are getting more and more popular in the UK. It’s possible to make your own but that takes a lot of skill and practice to do well. If you buy pre-made ones, you can still save money by installing them yourself. It’s a relatively simple job but as with all DIY, it helps to approach it carefully and familiarise yourself with each step before you begin.

The basics

To fit shutters successfully you’ll really need to be able to lay out the parts in the right arrangement first, and it’s much easier if you do this right next to the windows where you want to mount them, so start by clearing as much space as possible. You will then need a drill, a hammer, a suitable screwdriver (as well as the screws themselves, which will normally be delivered along with any shutters you’ve ordered) and a spirit level.

Standard shutters come in two parts: the panels and the frame. You’ll need to assemble the frame and attach it to your window frame, then fit the panels into it. Small adjustments to the position of screws can be made afterwards in order to ensure that everything hangs neatly and your shutters close without any problems.

Assembling the frames

In the UK window shutters are most commonly sold with frames that have been pre-cut for easy fitting. Working with frames like this, you’ll find that you can lay out the pieces on the floor so that mitred ends fit neatly together, leaving small holes shaped like bow ties. These are designed to be filled by wooden or plastic pegs which can simply be tapped into place with your hammer to hold the frames together. The result is a lot sturdier than you might expect, especially once it’s been fitted to your window frame.

Fitting the frames

Shutter frames are designed to be attached to your existing window frames. Depending on what these are made of, you may be able to drill straight through the shutter frame and into them in one go, or you may need to pre-drill holes in them and use plastic plugs for additional support. Needless to say, you’ll need to be very careful with your measurements to make sure that the holes in each frame align properly, and don’t forget to make sure that when you position the frame the hinges are on the correct side. Use long screws to secure the shutter frame to the window frame.

When using your spirit level to adjust the frames, bear in mind that windows themselves are not always completely level, especially if you live in an older home, where minor subsidence is common. If your windows are not neatly aligned, you may need to make minor adjustments to the frame and panels themselves – and not just their alignment – in order to get a neat fit.

Fitting the panels

As long as you’ve got the frames set up correctly, fitting the panels is the easy part of shutter installation, but that doesn’t mean that nobody makes mistakes. Most of them are easy to see coming as long as you pay attention. If you’re fitting a set of shutters with several panels, make sure you put the right ones in the right places. If you’re using louvered shutters, make sure you get them up the right way.

Pre-made shutters should be straightforward to fit because the hinges are designed to line up neatly, so all you have to do is slot them into place and then drop in hinge pins to hold them together, allowing your shutter panels to swing to and fro. This is much easier if you have a second person available to help.

Some pre-packed shutters come with cosmetic screw caps or strips for covering up the fittings so as to create a smoother, more elegant look when the job is done.

Old houses

If you live in a house that dates back to the Georgian or Victorian period, you may have windows which already have inbuilt shutter frames. It’s not uncommon for the shutters themselves to have been lost or permanently fixed to the walls. It’s possible to fit shutter panels directly to these without having to add an extra layer of frame, but to do this you’ll need to buy additional hinge brackets and carefully position them yourself. Make sure you allow enough room for the panels to fold back properly.

Once your shutters are in place you’ll be amazed at the difference they make to your home. This is a great DIY job in terms of the rewards it delivers for the amount of effort involved, and everyone will admire the result.

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