Wood has long been the standard for functional exterior shutters. We see them in all the old time photos of Canadian farms and Victorian homes. Wood is inexpensive and limitless in style. But there is a drawback to wood. As beautiful as these shutters may be, they probably won't live past the age of 5 if not properly treated.
It is usually just a matter of time before they warp, split, rot, and then fall off the house. But, there's good news. If you have a good eye for signs of rot, you can do a lot of preventive maintenance that will allow your shutters to last for up to 15 years. There are just a few tricks you'll need to know.
The sun is the main cause of shutter deterioration. Pretty much every material contracts and expands in sunlight (due to heating). Changes in temperature can cause your shutters to shift and warp. The problem is that contraction and expansion of different parts of the shutter can often lead to exposing small cracks and parts of the raw shutter that weren't painted. If this happens, water will get in and the rot process will quickly begin.
There are two good ways to combat this. First, use a light or neutral shade for your shutter. Dark colors, especially black, expand and contract more because they absorb more heat from the sun. To further block this absorption use a vinyl safe paint. Secondly, repaint your shutters every few years, especially in the summer, not the winter, when they have expanded the most. A good rule of thumb is to inspect your shutters during the summer on a hot day and to touch up any exposed parts. Small attention to details can prolong the life of your shutters and save you a fortune in the long run.
What if your shutters are already showing signs of advanced rot? Is there anything that can be done to save them? The short answer is yes, but don't be surprised if you have to get hands on and actually reinforce parts or all of the shutter. If rails and styles begin splitting apart, you immediately want to tap them back in with a block and hammer and even add an extra screw if needed.
If rot has set in, you'll have to scrape it all out or it will spread. Use a bonding agent to fill the voids where you've removed the rot. Once you retouch the shutter with paint it will look brand new and it can double the shutter’s lifespan. No one will ever know there was even a rot problem.
A common mistake people make is to use caulk. They will often caulk the panels where they meet the rails and styles. Theses panels need to be able to contract and expand and caulk prevents that, causing the shutters to warp.
If DIY home improvements are not your cup of tea, call Canada Custom Shutters. We offer shutter repair services and will give you a free quote for the work. You can also avoid many of these issues by replacing your wood shutters with synthetics. They are generally rot proof and maintenance free and can be installed as functional shutters that open and close and look just like real wood. No matter what you decide, just remember that a little bit of preventive maintenance can go a long way.