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Shutters in a dining room

How Difficult Are DIY Shutters?

May 15, 2017

Doing home design projects on your own in Chicago is a lot easier than it used to be. With resources easily available to savvy homeowners, a lot of once-difficult projects are now very doable by yourself.

There are outliers, though – projects that may be unwieldy, tedious, or just too complex to do on your own. One project that might be part of that category is installing DIY plantation shutters.

Chicago DIY shutters in living room. 

Here are just a handful of the issues that can arise when you try to put in shutters as a DIY project.

DIY Window Measuring for Shutters

Although it might look easy at a glance, getting the correct window measurements for plantation shutters can be very tricky. As a member of our team likes to say, “There are a thousand ways you can measure windows wrong, but only one right way54.” There’s a lot of variation in windows that can impact how you need to measure.

For example, will your shutters be on an inside mount or an outside mount? How thick is the shutter frame you’re thinking about and how deep into the window jamb will it go? What style of frame do you need for casement-in windows, swinging windows or glass doors?

The answers to each of these questions can change which kind of shutters and frame are best for you. That also changes how you should measure your windows.

Buying DIY Shutters

The next pitfall for DIY shutters can pop up during the buying process. Just like the variation in windows, there’s a lot of differences between types of shutters, and if you’re doing it alone, it’s easy to buy the wrong thing. Here are a few common DIY mistakes:

  • Purchasing shutters that are the wrong material. For instance, ordering real wood shutters to put in a room that might actually need a moisture-proof window treatment.

  • Picking a shutter configuration that blocks window movement, making it so you can’t fully open the window.

  • Choosing the wrong type of shutter frame, especially for specialty windows like in sliding glass doors.

When talking to DIYers, we’ve found there might be some added confusion with shutter terminology. Talking to a shutter company can help clear up any confusion, so you get exactly what you want for your windows.

Installing DIY Shutters

Where DIY shutters can become most difficult is trying to install them, as you probably guessed.

There are a few reasons it’s hard – first, shutter installation needs to be precise, and a slight slip-up in measuring at the start or in hanging a bracket can ruin the whole thing. Shutters can also be physically hard to maneuver on your own; depending on the material and the position of your window, lifting a shutter can be very cumbersome and in some cases dangerous.

Shutter installation in Chicago bedroom. 

The majority of shutter DIYers are unaware that it’s fairly common for shutters to not fit the window frame precisely. This is mainly because most window frames aren’t a perfect square. Attaching the shutter flush to one edge of the window could result in the shutter looking crooked and making gaps. Needing to caulk a ¼ or ½inch gap is common with shutter installations, and if you’re an inexperienced DIYer a caulking job could be outside your expertise.

Finally, when you do a shutter installation yourself, you don’t have a safety net. If a professional installer puts in your shutters for you, they’ll usually guarantee the product and installation with a warranty. But if something goes wrong when you DIY, you’re on your own if there’s any damage to your shutter or to your window.

Are DIY Shutters Worth It?

Doing a shutter installation on your own can save you some cash if you do everything exactly right. But you should know just how easy it is for something to go wrong during the process, and how that can cost you all the money you would have saved. For a flawless installation and the ability to rest easy, talk with a window design pro at Sunburst Shutters Chicago by calling 847-250-6544.