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The standard for shutter excellence!

Preservation Grade
Close-up showing  legitimate moveable louvers and operating tilt rod. Some shutter manufacturers offer only so-called faux tilt rods.  While having the appearance of an operating tilt rod, these are often unacceptable to historic district commissions as not preserving the functionality of operable louvers contrary to the guidelines for materials substitution promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior's Guidelines for Preserving Historic Properties published by the National Park Service.   This detail from two an historic whaling captain's home in the historic whaling port of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. Also note the beading detail on the stile (vertical member) of the shutter.   A full picture of this same house may be found on the Information Request page of this website.

When we set out to purchase shutters for our own antique home we were very conscious of the fact that we had one of only two Greek Revival houses in Edgartown that had never had their exterior structure altered from the original classic Greek lines The original part of the home had been built in 1820.  The result was that we were seeking shutters which would match the requirements of the Preservation Landmarks Guidelines put out by the National Park Service for designated historic landmarks. 

At the same time, we had been through more that 20 years of wood shutter maintenance with all the attendant expense that goes with it … to the point that we were having to re-paint and reconstruct our wood shutters on an almost annual basis … at  horrendous expense.

At that time, the synthetic alternatives were pretty-much limited to vinyl shutters which are injected moulded, have none of the heft, feel, or look of true operating shutters, and over time tend to warp and fade.  No matter how much one might try to dress them up they still didn’t look right, proving the old adage that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  Additionally, none of these shutters had the details such as actual moveable louvers, or the beading detail which sets historically correct shutters apart from “lumber yard junk.”  The problem with direct replacement with wood shutters was the fact that due to the “fast growth” policies of most lumber growers, it is today difficult if not impossible to buy good wood shutters anyway.

A true open louver
round top shutter.

Finally, we came across the first supplier for whom we distributed.  They put out an excellent open louver shutter with actual inset louvers (but unfortunately without the stile beading or actual moveable louvers we required for an accurate replacement of our wood shutters.  They did put out a faux (fancy French word for “false) tile rod which would

make the shutters look like moveable louvers.  Additionally they used a superior tested paint system for their finish, and all of the materials used in all of their shutters were impervious to moisture.

We purchased those shutters, and in distributing for that company we established the standard for shutters made from composite (non-wood) materials and called it Preservation-Grade.  Not only did these shutters meet the standards of the Federal Preservation Guideline, but, in fact, their ability to withstand the elements served to Preserve historic structures.

Unfortunately we ran into some early problems.  Many architects would not approve of their louvered shutters because the louvers did not actually operate.  (The Nantucket Historic District Commission refused to approve them on this basis).

Over a period of time we kept an eye out for improvements in meeting the true standards of Preservation-Grade. This ultimately led to our finding a shutter manufacturer that actually produced a fully-operating, moveable louver shutter, with all the beaded detail found on antique shutters.  Ultimately we also found a supplier that could also make round top shutters with open louvers all the way to the top.

At the same time we found that our origninal supplier was substituting wood epoxy panels for the PVC material that they originally used (a problem which could lead to warping, swelling, and cracking.  That same supplier also changed the paint they were using such that their paint warranty was no longer backed by the paint manufacturer.

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