Rabbeted Shutter Stiles & Properly Sized Units

gap between shutters
This entry is the second in our series titled “Shutter Details”. A shutter unit is created when panels, hinges and hang strips combine to cover a window. Narrow windows can be covered with a single panel, but most windows require multiple panels. Improperly sized or machined interior shutters can result in an unsightly vertical gap between shutter panels (see picture). There are two ways to avoid this unfortunate conclusion.

Properly Sized Shutters
Shutters do not allow for sloppy fit like many other window coverings. Shutters are a solid window treatment that require a starting width very close to the overall window width. Custom shutter made to the 1/16″ are constructed ready for installation. Because they are custom made, they generally result in the best overall fit and ease of installation.

custom wood shutters

Standard size shutters can be adapted to fit a window opening, but it is still necessary to start with panels that are within 1/4″ of the necessary size.Shutters that are too large can sometimes be trimmed a little to fit the opening, but shutters that are too small cannot be stretched.

Rabbeted Stiles
The vertical components on either side of the shutter supporting the louvers are called stiles. When two shutters are placed side-by-side an opportunity for light entry is created. Naturally, there needs to be some space between the panels for hinges and for movement. Shutters simply can not be installed tight to one another. The solution to this problem is to rabbet the stiles. A shutter rabbet is a system where one shutter slightly overlaps another. This creates a light break that prevents the undesired light gap,which square edges can not restrict.

Some manufactures will place a small tack strip on one side of a shutter panel with square edges. The strip slightly overlaps the adjacent panel, creating a light break. This system is cheap and unattractive.

Many companies will conduct a presentation focused on price, popularity of their company, certifications, or production time. Your number one concern should be product quality. While many companies selling indoor shutters do a very fine job from start to finish, there are others that package themselves very well, but fail to leave you with quality window shutters. Ask about component sizes and rabbeted stiles. Then contrast their answers to others in the industry. Online companies present material up front, and giving you a great starting point for comparison (Horizon Shutters is a good example).

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