Interior shutters are typically divided into narrow units hinged accordion-style so that two or more units cover each side of a window opening when closed.
Operable louvered shutters have louvers (or louvres in British usage), or slats, controlled by a tilt bar or rod to adjust the louver position and keep them in a uniform position, to control light, visibility and airflow. Shutters with operable louvers are described variously as traditional shutters, California shutters, or plantation shutters. Plantation shutters, typical of warmer climates like South Africa.
Other interior shutters use stationary louvers that do not rotate (fixed louvers); solid raised or flat panels; fabric inserts; or tinted glass.
Shutters can be configured in a single tier unit that has one shutter top to bottom of a window opening as well as multiple tiers.
Multiple tier units feature separate shutters on each tier which allows the top shutters to be opened independently from the bottom shutters. Café-type shutters refer to shutters that only cover the lower portion of a window.
Exterior shutters were originally constructed for light control, privacy, security and protection from the elements. Functional shutters hinge on each side of a window or at the top and swing closed when necessary and can also be mounted on tracks applied to the face of the building. Fixed and operable louvres shed rain, allow air transfer, filter direct sunlight, protect from small flying debris, and provide privacy.
Operable louvred shutters allow for greater control of light and ventilation. Solid panels and board-and-batten shutters are generally used for security or protection during severe weather.
Non-functional shutters are merely used to enhance the appearance of a building. Functional shutters have traditionally been constructed from solid woods that have proven to endure outside elements but have also been mass-produced in woods less suitable to the outdoors like pine. Finishing wood shutters is recommended for extended life. Composite shutters offer advantages over wood shutters such as resistance to twisting, splitting, and rotting. However, PVC shutters are often hinged with three or more hinges and painted with vinyl-safe paint to keep from bowing in the sun and can require additional hardware.
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