Why Fake Shutters Make Me Angry

By Scott Sidler • February 12, 2018

why fake shutters make me angryIt’s true that I have a problem with fake shutters. If you follow my instagram page you’ll see a healthy spattering of shutter fails. They give me a little bit of rage that no other architectural element does (I’ve written about the other design flaws that drive me nuts here). The purpose of this post isn’t just to vent (though it will be therapeutic for me!), but rather to explain why something as insignificant as a fake shutter flies in the face of almost every rule of design.

My hope is that more people will see the mistake that fake shutters are and it will prevent even just one more house from giving its windows a black eye and making me that much crazier. Beware that once you read this post, you will likely be cursed like me in noticing the world of fake shutters on buildings everywhere. It will be like when the lights come on at the bar at closing time and you realize exactly what that person you’ve been dancing with all night really looks like. Be frightened!

Why Fake Shutters?

real shutters
“Real” Shutters

Why do they exist? I guess because real shutters look so great that a lot of other people wanted to jump on the shutter band wagon but couldn’t afford real shutters. If your shutters don’t operate, you won’t realize just how bad they really are.

You see, real shutters…shut. It’s that simple. If your shutters don’t shut, they are fake. Shutters were designed to cover your window for a multitude of reasons. They protect against storms or other inclement weather. The provide relief from the hot summer sun and cold winter winds. They keep rain, hail, sleet and snow off your windows, and extend their life. They can provide privacy or help to darken a room for sleep. Shutters are immensely practical and useful.

But when you take a randomly sized piece of plastic and screw it to the siding next to your window and call it a shutter, you are fooling yourself and a few others, but no one who reads this blog anymore. In the title of this post I promised you the reasons why they get my goad, so I might as well dig into the details.

Reason #1 They Don’t Fit

This is the most obvious and makes it easy to spot for just about everyone. If your window is 6 feet wide and your shutter is only a foot wide, who do you think you are fooling? You may not think it’s a big deal, but proportions matter. Putting undersized fake shutters on your house is like driving a big rig with 18 donut spare tires. It’s awkward and ineffective.

Real shutters are designed to be exactly half of the window dimension so that when you close both sides they cover the window precisely. Too small and they leave the window unprotected, too large and they won’t close. If you are going to get fake shutters then at least make it hard enough that my kindergartener can’t tell.

Reason #2 The Slats Are Wrong

This one is a little harder to see when flying by in the car but walking the neighborhood it’s abundantly clear. Here’s the deal: the louvers on shutters are designed to shed water…when closed. When they are open the louvres would be angled so that they are channeling water back onto the siding instead of down and away from the building like on fake shutters.

I can only assume that the genius designers of fake shutters did this because fake shutters only have one position they can be in and that is open. You’d think that before they designed their fake shutter they would have looked at how real shutters were, but apparently that was too much to ask.

Reason #3 Wrong Design

Not every house style was intended to have shutters on it and certain house styles have shutter designs that are distinct to them. Shutters with pictures cut into a top panel were usually for Colonial and Colonial Revival houses. Board and batten shutters fit well on Mission and Spanish style homes, plantation shutters belong on southern plantation homes. When you take any random shutter design and put it on a house at random, you’re playing shutter roulette.

Just like kids need Garanimals to help them pick clothes that match, adults need a similar system for shutters on their houses. If you don’t know what style belongs on your house, then ask someone who does like.

Reason #4 Wrong Place

Not every window fits the same kind of shutter, and not every window was designed to accommodate a shutter. Just because you want a shutter on that window, doesn’t mean you should have one. Every shutter gets a window, but not every window gets a shutter. I should make that into a T-shirt.

Shutter-pocalypse

Now that you know, start looking around your neighborhood. Are they too small? Too big? Are they permanently fixed to the building or worse yet, a part of the actual building themselves? Are they upside down, the wrong size, the wrong style? So many questions and so many fake shutters that it’s like a shutter-pocaplypse outside.

It may seem ugly out there, but now that you are aware of shutters you can truly appreciate a beautiful pair of historic shutters. A pair of real shutters added to the right window adds so much charm to a window it’s unreal. And I guess that beauty is what the fakers tried to duplicate. The truth is, nothing compares to the real deal, but you already knew that didn’t you?

And I went even further by making you guys a fun video! Check it out below for some great “advice” about vinyl shutters.

Share Away!

34 thoughts on “Why Fake Shutters Make Me Angry”

  1. When I built my house 13 years ago, I refused to put fake shutters on the house. The builder couldn’t understand and tried to convince me that it should have shutters. Currently, I am a Planner working in a small historic city, with the goal of incentivizing quality infill development and rehabilitation of older historic homes. My top design criteria to be eligible for tax credits or other incentives will be no fake shutters. Stop fake shutters!

    1. So glad to hear there’s another member in the anti-fake-shutter army!

      Your work sounds amazing and so important. Thank you for doing what you do!

      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  2. Awesome post! I hate all the ugly fake shutters! But how do I convince my wife? She thinks the windows/house look “naked” without them and she can’t “stand” the look. I think they look stupid and clutter up the clean lines of the house. The strange thing is the back of the house has no shutters and she thinks it look fine. I think it’s what we get used to looking at. Maybe I have to close my eyes whenever I’m in front of the house! Thanks again for the post.

    1. Hi Joel! You can have much more realistic, accurate and operable ones created and installed possibly! That way the house won’t look “naked” and you also won’t have to endure the embarrassment of fake shutters. Use our directory to find someone in your area and see if they can help you. Hopefully it helps! http://www.thecraftsmanblog.com/directory
      Best of luck!
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  3. Omg I’m so happy to find this post. We had game shutters on our home and I just took them down a month ago! I couldn’t wait! Unfortunately we have some glue stuck after the shutter was removed on our brick.

    1. Glad we can all agree on this and support each other in our disdain for fake shutters. 😉
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  4. I just ran across this blog while Googling “Why do houses have fake shutters?” I’m so glad I’m not the only one who hates them, for all the reasons you’ve listed. I had a heated discussion with a friend of mine who thinks they make a house look more attractive, even though I told her they serve no purpose, they don’t fit the windows, and mostly, because they ARE fake. Anyway, I find it amazing that people don’t even give them a second thought. I don’t consider myself OCD but I’m all about function, and fake shutters serve none. Thanks for your blog.

    1. Hi Diane,
      Thanks so much for commenting. We’re so glad you have the same passion for design excellence! Hopefully your friend will come around one day. 🙂
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  5. We have a 1910 octagonal bungalow/ with strong craftsman design elements. It is an architectural gem that we are in the process of restoring. It has original shingles, many original windows, a gorgeous original front door and (yikes) fake plastic shutters. We are having the house painted this week and after reading the posts we have agreed to leave the shutters off completely. Thank you for the reminders about authenticity, design integrity and good sense.

    1. Hi Carol,
      So happy to hear that you’re restoring your 1910 Bungalow! And that’s so sad to hear about the fake shutters, so glad you found inspiration to keep it more historically accurate and more beautiful. Best of luck on your restoration process!
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  6. While fake shutters are pretty silly, I do think that there’s something interesting in our cultural attitude towards them. They’re akin to seeing big 4×4 trucks in the suburbs, or china cabinets who’s china never get used. They’ve become an accent all unto themselves in a American culture that doesn’t have much built heritage to fall back on.

  7. I’m SO thrilled to find this post. I’m forever telling people fake shutters are an assault on my OCD. Mouths gape open when I say I’m not putting shutters back up when my siding is finished on my Craftsman style home. Thank you, I’m sharing this with everyone.

    1. Haha Stephanie thanks so much for sharing! Love hearing everyone’s input, but especially input like yours. -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  8. We are in the process of having out house painted. The painters removed the fake shutters, and they were plastic. We couldn’t believe it. We have to decide in the next day if we want them to put the shutters back on. Everyone is telling us to do it because the house looks naked without them. We are torn!

  9. We are struggling with this issue… 1830’s Greek Revival in New England (not designated historical). 10 years ago we re-did all of the wood clapboard and had the original shutters patched up and screwed on. Some still worked at that time but most were in disrepair so to protect them they got attached to the house without hinges. We removed the newer shutters that were put on windows in an addition that made no sense style or size-wise. The antique ones are now literally falling apart and the quote to replace with working wood shutters is astronomical. Our contractor is suggesting vinyl which I don’t like but we have done some “fake” wood on our exterior porches. Because the louvers wouldn’t move I am leaning towards raised panel (New England both seem to be common). My husband is crazily suggesting no shutters (!) so I must compromise without breaking the bank. What are your thoughts?

  10. This post makes me so happy!! I’ve always hated fake shutters. I have a deep appreciation for practical applications, especially in design and style. I found this blog because I’m looking for shutters to hold me over for the hurricane season until I have time to make my own proper, wooden shutters. During my search, I found these ridiculous vinyl shutters at Lowes called “severe storm” shutters. I really can’t understand how they can be called that when they aren’t even strong enough to nail/screw into without being permanently damaged at best, or even shattered.

    1. Hi Carey,
      Thank you so much for commenting! It’s always so nice to hear that other people share these same passions and righteous indignations.
      Best of luck to you!
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  11. Fake external shutters are right up there with fake curtains – you know those curtains that make the room look “lush”, with swags and tails, but are only a fraction of the width they really should be, so are impractical and pointless, you might as well just use old bed sheets! Also a bit like having plastic fruit in a bowl, like in the 70s! Jeez Louise!

  12. I agree with this post – but I do wonder, especially in regards to the white house with the black shutters next to the double window, what would the appropriate shutter be? If it’s wide enough to actually close, it’s going to look silly and if it had no shutters at all, it would look like a giant white blob. If I was personally choosing the shutters for this home, I would want some just a little wider than what is currently present, but not wide enough to be operable. What would you suggest?

  13. I grew up in a “fake shuttered house”- so when my husband and I bought our house- I was so thrilled to have “real shutters” that move.that I have them- I cannot not notice all the fakes out there and how much better reals ones look. I really don’t think the majority of people are bothered by this- which really bothers me!

    1. Hi Kim,
      Always so good to hear from others who understand this whole “fake shutter” epidemic! Thankful for things that connect us as a community all over the globe, one “real shutter” enthusiast at a time!
      I hope you have a wonderful week!
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

  14. I’ve seen neighborhoods of new-builds where upwards of 70% of homes have inappropriately-sized fake shutters.

  15. It’s funny I found this post. We just bought our first home and my husband had no idea that they have such a thing as fake shutters (our house has them…that is until we take them off this summer). He got really annoyed when he realized what we have for “shutters” was just decorative and not functional at all. I don’t know much about house styles we have a very large “box” looking house that reminds me of colonials. What would you recommend for replacing them with functional shutters? Is there a style we should look into that’s going to match?

  16. I absolutely hate fake shutters and I’m almost equally disgusted with vinyl replacement windows.
    I want to keep the original windows and add functional wooden shutters for my bungalow style house
    (build in 1948). As much as I would like to, I cannot do DIY so I’m looking for a skilled carpenter / window wizard to take this project. The house is in St. Petersburg, – if somebody could hook me up with a right person / company.
    Thanks,
    Rita

    1. Hello Rita,

      I’m so glad to hear you share our passion for real windows and real shutters! Here is a link to our directory where we have people who do similar work to us in different parts of the country. Best of luck on your journey and all of our well wishes for you to find the right person. https://thecraftsmanblog.com/directory/
      Have a wonderful week!
      -Alyssa at The Craftsman Blog

      1. Thanks! I was just thinking board and batten which in theory doesn’t sound too hard. Shuttercraft has some good looking shutters though.

          1. Thats what I was thinking too. I’ll just research designs, hardware and installation… I should have all of them down in 5-7 years. 🙂

  17. I suspect the first fake shutter was made after ” I like shutters but don’t want to take care of them” was said. The guy who invented fake shutters has made a killing… For inventing a real bad fake

  18. This has long been a pet peeve of mine as well (only of about a zillion different ones!). I like shutters that are for function and it irks me when they are not the right size — and, of course,the right ones on the right style of house.

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