Board and batten shutters are a simple and attractive historical option for shutters that you can make without a bunch of complex woodworking tools. In this post, I’ll help you pick the right wood, measure for success, the step-by-step build, and the hardware to make it all work.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know how much I despise fake shutters. I’ve even done another video all about fake vinyl shutters and avoiding the major design faux pas that they are. But, with the video tutorial below, there should be no reason why you can’t have awesome and functional board and batten shutters on your house.
The board and batten design has been around for centuries because of its simplicity and it’s not just for shutters. It can be used in siding, doors, wainscoting, and a slew of other design options once you understand how it works. So, let’s start building!
Picking the Right Wood
Your board and batten shutters are going on the outside of your house, right? So, you want to choose a wood that is both rot-resistant and holds paint well. I’ve got a whole post on choosing rot-resistant wood here if you want to dive in deeper to the topic, but in this post, I’ll give you some good options.
The species of wood you have access to will largely vary depending on your region. Some good options are Cypress in the South, Redwood in the West, and Eastern White Pine in the Northeast, and Western Red Cedar just about anywhere, but you can pick anything you want.
A couple options to avoid at all costs would be Poplar and Oak. Poplar takes paint better than almost any wood, but it has terrible rot resistance and will fail quickly. Oak, while it can be fairly rot-resistant, is terrible at accepting paint. If you are doing varnished shutters, then this is a possibility, but I recommend painting your shutters.
For my shutters, I am using pre-primed Red Cedar from my local lumberyard. It’s already dimensioned and primed, so that leaves very prep little work for me to turn them into shutters.
Measuring for Shutters
Shutters are designed to fit within the window well. The same area occupied by your screen or storm windows is where the shutter will be located when it is in the closed position. Measure the height and width of this area in a few places just in case your window is bowed or out of square which could cause your shutters to fit poorly without modifying them first.
Say your window is 30″ w X 60″ h, which is a fairly standard size old window. You shutter will need to fit within that opening with a little space on each side, so the overall dimensions you’ll need to fill should be be around 29 1/2″ X 59 1/2″. I like to subtract 1/2″ from each measurement which gives you a 1/4″ gap around the whole window.
Remember, in most cases, you’ll need two shutters for each window. Each shutter will be 59 1/2″ high by you’ll need to divide the overall width by 2 which makes each shutter 14 3/4″ X 59 1/2″. Makes sense?
Just a little more math and we’re done. For board and batten shutters, you need to figure out the sizes of your boards. In my case, I ended up using two 1×6 boards and one 1×8 in the middle ripped down just a bit to get the right width.
Building Board and Batten Shutters
Go ahead and cut all of your boards to length on a miter saw, and then make any rips that you need to accommodate the width of your window. After the boards are cut, you’ll need to cut at least two battens for each shutter. You can use three battens for each shutter too, but two per shutter is most common. Each batten will run diagonally across the boards and should be just shy of the width of your shutter. You have some liberty in how wide and where you place your battens.
Once everything is cut, lay it out on a table and double check your measurements and play with the layout of your battens. Once you like your layout, use a 15 ga. nail gun to put two nails through the batten into each board (don’t skip any boards). You can assemble it using other options too, like wood glue, construction adhesive, screws, or even narrow crown staples. It really depends what your preferred method is, as long as it secures the assembly together strong enough.
Fill any nail holes, sand it smooth with 120-grit sand paper and then paint it your preferred color.
There is so much hardware available for shutters that it difficult to know what to choose. My recommendation is to go to House of Antique Hardware and pick out some hardware you like, then call their customer service department and ask them what size and offset you’ll need. That’s what I ended up doing because it was so confusing. I’ve only repaired shutters and prior to this post had never actually built and installed new ones. The options are endless, so let them help you find the right stuff.
I went with 10″ offset strap hinges for my shutters and a simple hook and eye latch with shutter dogs. The strap hinges are simple to install with just 3 screws. I centered them on each of my battens and screwed them easily. Once the straps are on, you have to install the lintel part of the hinge to the trim on the building. This lintel is not hard at all, simply take the shutter and place it where you would like it to rest when closed in the window opening. I used a couple shims to keep it off of the sill during installation.
With the shutter in place, insert the lintel into place and set one screw to hold it in place. Then remove the shutter and set the remaining two screws. Repeat that for the top lintel and then set your shutter in place on the lintels to check the operation. Should be smooth as butter! Repeat these steps for the other side.
Now, for the shutter dogs. Open your board and batten shutters all the way and locate the shutter dog below the shutter so that it will prevent the shutter from closing when in the vertical position. Install the screws that hold it into place. On stucco buildings, it is usually a leg bolt used for installation rather than a few wood screws. When you want the shutter to open, you turn the shutter dog horizontal, which allows the shutter to swing past it.
Then, close your shutters and attach the hook and eye on either the inside of outside of the shutter, whichever you prefer.
Why not? Shutters are incredible! They can protect your windows from storms. They can be closed to keep the sun out and keep a room cooler in the summer or warmer in the winter. They look very attractive when done properly. They are overall an awesome addition to an old house.
There are some houses that call for shutters, but I will tell you that though you can put them on any house, not every house style was build with shutters in mind. Some like Colonial Revival, Georgian & Adams, Greek Revival cry out for shutters, but styles like American Craftsman and Mission Style don’t generally belong in the shutter family.
Now that you know the awesomeness of shutters, go build something great!
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I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.