Window Covering – Wood Shutters

Interior Design
By: Zsuzsanna Etey, Judi Christink, February 2003, Vancouver, Canada

Window Covering – Wood Shutters
The Ultimate Investment in Beauty and Classic Styling

Wood and vinyl shutters are beautiful additions to any building and a lifetime investment for your home and office.
Choosing shutters means more then just “dressing your windows”. High quality shutters are in investment in your living or working environment.
Shutters give a chance for the designers to add a final touch of beauty to the surroundings.

The History of Shutters
Shutters have had a long history of protecting windows on the outside, but they were originally designed for the inside of a home.
On Tudor (1485-1547) and Elizabethan (1558-1603) homes, shutters were made of solid boards and covered only the lower half of the window openings, where no glass was installed (glass was very expensive in those days). When open, fresh air came into the room and the shutters folded back to look like decorative wall panels. When closed, usually with a bar across, light still came through the glazed upper half of the window. By the late 17th century, double-hung windows were popular. Shutters were still attached inside and decorated, but they covered the whole window.

During the Victorian period (1837-1901), when more houses were constructed from wood, shutters moved outdoors. The former stone and brick homes has such deeply recessed windows that exterior shutters would have been difficult to reach from inside. But wooden walls could be built such thinner and exterior shutters could now be accessed easily from the inside.

By the late 19th century, shutters were used as much as for decoration as for their practical functions of shelter and protection for the glass. When mechanization entered Victorian millworks, shutters became more sophisticated. They were often louvered or made of narrow horizontal slats angled to deflect rain, to allow some daylight through whilst providing adequate ventilation.

In the 1980s, window technology and window-covering choices have eliminated the functional use of outside shutters. However, the revival of Victorian, style housing and the interest in rehabilitating century, old homes are bringing shutters back into the limelight as an interior window treatment. They are often made from wood, with all its inherent problems of chipping, warping, shrinking, peeling…

In 1990s, Vinylbilt Group used new vinyl technology and introduced the Vinylbilt Shutter. The richness and warmth of Plantation style shutters coupled with the practicality of engineered vinyl. These shutters are extremely durable. They offer the traditional look of Plantation style shutters without the inherent problems of wood.

General Description / Composition
The shutter is a moveable cover or screen for a window or door as to shut out the light or obstruct the view. Depending on climatic requirements or personal preference, one can choose wood or vinyl shutters. They are viewed as the highest quality window treatment on the market today.
Shutters cut down on utility cost, they keep your home warm in the winter, protect your home and furnishings from damaging heat and sunlight in the summer. They also provide complete control of view, privacy and light.
There are a wide variety of shutters available on the market in various colors and shapes.
Shutters are easy to install and keep clean, but they are very expensive. However, they add beauty and value and represent a lifetime of enjoyment.

Main Components of the Shutter
The top and bottom of the frame are called “top rail” and “bottom rail”. The divider rail is position specified and it creates two louver sections for independent control of privacy and light. The side of the frame is referred to as the “stile”. The louvered section consists of moveable “louvers” and the “tilt rod”.

Wood Shutters
Spruce, cedar, poplar, oak, cherry and walnut are different kinds of wood used to make shutters.
Advantages of wood shutters:
- expensive, rich look
- high insulation factor
- great sun control
- room darkening
- lifetime enjoyment
Disadvantages of wood shutters:
- warping
- shrinking
- chipping
- peeling
- color fading
- expensive, NOT a disadvantage if you have plenty of $$$

Vinyl – The Material
The scientist, who developed vinyl in the 1920s, had no idea that their invention come to play a vital role in our everyday lives, helping make products hat are safer, easier to use, clearer, more durable, more economical and simply better.

The History of Vinyl
The world’s most versatile plastic had a rather humble beginning: A rubber scientist during the early 1920s stumbled onto a new material with fantastic properties during his research for a synthetic adhesive. Waldo Semon was intrigued with his finding, and experimented by golf balls and shoe heels out of the versatile material called Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC.

Soon after his discovery, PVC-based products such as insulated wire, raincoats and shower curtains hit the market. As more used for vinyl were discovered, industry developed more ways to produce and process the new plastic.

Plants manufacturing PVC began to spring up during the ‘30s to meet demand for the versatile material. Just a decade after its conception, PVC -commonly known as vinyl- was sought for a variety of industrial applications including gaskets and tubing.

Joining industries across the nation during the ‘40s, PVC manufacturers turned their attention to assisting the war effort. Vinyl-coated wire was widely used abroad. US military ships, replacing wire insulated with rubber. Vinyl manufacturers were working in higher gear as World War II wound down, and they quickly found new markets for the durable plastic. Following the war, news of vinyl’s versatility and flame-resistant properties spread, leading to dozens of commercial uses.

Five companies were making PVC at the century’s midpoint, and innovative use for vinyl continued to be found during the ‘50s and ‘60s. A vinyl-based latex was used on boots, fabric coating and inflatable structures, and methods for enhancing vinyl’s durability were refined, opening the door to applications in the building trades.

Vinyl products became a staple of the construction industry; the plastic resistance to corrosion, light and chemicals made it idea for building applications. PVC piping was soon transporting water to thousands of homes and industries, aided by the improvements in the material’s resistance to extreme temperatures. Twenty companies were producing vinyl by 1980.

Today, vinyl is the second largest-selling plastic in the world, and the industry employs more than 100,000 people in the United States alone. Vinyl’s low cost versatility and performance make it the material of choice for dozens of industries such as health care, communications, aerospace, automotive, retailing, textile and constructions. Rigid as pipe or pliable as plastic wrap, vinyl is a leading material of the 21st century.

How Is Vinyl Made?
Like all plastic materials, vinyl results from a series of processing steps that convert hydrocarbon-based raw materials (petroleum, natural gas or coal) into unique synthetic products called polymers. The vinyl polymer is unusual, however, because it is based only in part of hydrocarbon feed stocks: ethylene obtained by processing, or cracking, natural gas or petroleum. The other half of the vinyl polymer is based on the natural element chlorine.

Chlorine gives vinyl two advantages. First, chlorine is derived from brine –a solution of common salt and water, and a readily available, inexpensive commodity. Thus, vinyl is less sensitive to fluctuations in the world oil market than are totally oil dependent polymers. Second, chlorine has excellent inherent flame retardant properties. These properties are passed on directly to vinyl end products, making vinyl an excellent choice for application such as electrical conduit and wiring that require high resistance to ignition and flame spread.

Through chemical reaction, ethylene and chlorine combine to form ethylene dichloride, which, in turn, is transformed into a gas called vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). A final step, called “polymerization”, converts the monomer into vinyl polymer, a fine-grained, white powder or resin known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or simply “vinyl”.

Vinyl resin, however, is still one step away from being a usable material; it must be combined with selected chemical additives and modifiers to achieve the various properties desired in vinyl end products. Once these are added, the resulting material – vinyl compound- can be converted into an almost limitless range of applications.

The versatility is yet another reason why vinyl claims such a large share of the plastics market. It is the only plastic that can be made thin and flexible enough for wall coverings, yet rigid and tough enough for siding on buildings. Depending on the additives and modifiers used, vinyl compound can be used indoors or outside, be crystal clear or opaque, and matched to virtually any color in the rainbow.

Advantages of Vinyl Shutters
-water proof
- moisture resistance
- permanent finish
- easy to clean
- never needs painting
- fire retardant
- durable, safe
- better insulation
- UV stabilized
- environmentally friendly
- easy to install
- removable panels
- fully adjustable
- 25-year warranty
- not as expensive as the wood shutters

Disadvantage of the Vinyl Shutters
- not as rich looking as the wood shutters

Properly made wood or vinyl shutters are expensive but you get benefits for the money. One of these benefits ensures easy care. No special cleaning or care is necessary. Just wipe them off with ordinary soap and water. In fact regular cleaning enhances the finish and give them an “ever-improving” appearance for years to come. In between washing, a lamb’s wool duster can be used occasionally.

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