Homemade Board & Batten Shutters

by Daisy on 12/07/2009

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My louvered shutters were beginning to give the place that haunted house look– peeling paint and a few cockeyed slats.

First I thought I would strip and repaint them myself. Problem was, they’re 70 years old and layered with so many coats of lead paint it was a hazmat nightmare. Not the sort of project I could tackle in bits and pieces and put away each day safe from the little folks.

Then, of the half dozen or so painters I contacted, the lone one who thought such a small job was worth his time wanted $800. Ouch.

I had to pass. I thought about prefab shutters but they don’t make them the size for my windows.

Custom shutters? About $270 per pair, minus shipping.

I went to the lumberyard. I’m not handy enough to make louvered shutters, but simple board and batten ones are within my reach.

To make each half of a pair of shutters, I measured my window. Shutters, whether they are going to be functional (mounted on hinges and closed over the window) or not are traditionally sized as if they are functional. So, each shutter is half the width of the window and the height of the window. If you are replacing existing shutters, just measure those.

Depending on the size, you’ll want to use two or three boards to make up the shutter body. For my rather large window openings, I needed 21 inches of shutter per side. This was best made up of three 1″ X 8″‘s ripped to a combined dimension of 21 inches. I took off about 1/2″ from each board. You can also get the lumberyard to rip and cut the boards to size for you.

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Then I took a small plane and chamfered the side edge of each board just a touch to give the sides and the edges where the boards join some dimension and a finished character.

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I cut two 1″ x 4″‘s to the width of the shutter for the battens, and marked up a pleasing distance from the ends for the batten placement. For mine I chose 7″ from the bottom and the top. Each shutter will be different depending on the overall dimension of your shutter. Just lay the battens across the boards and step back and judge for yourself.

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Use exterior wood glue and clamp the battens to the boards in the proper placement.

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Flip the assembly over and screw the battens to the boards from the underside to eliminate the need for hiding the screws with countersinking and plugs. I used 1 1/4″exterior grade screws.

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Once your shutters are all put together, you can decide on the finish.  I used a couple of coats of primer and a couple of topcoats of exterior housepaint (front and back). You can also use an exterior stain and/or varnish.

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I decided to go the un-authentic (and cheap and easy) route and screw the shutters to the house instead of investing in working hardware. I knew I wasn’t going to be closing them anyway.



{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer December 7, 2009 at 7:17 am

I love them! They give a nice country feel to the windows. I am curious about your finished costs though. Well done!

viggie December 7, 2009 at 7:25 am

Wow they look great!

Deanna J December 7, 2009 at 7:50 am

Those look really good, I love the country look that they give, and I am sure you saved a bundle. Nice!

gafarmwomanPam December 7, 2009 at 8:28 am

I really do like those. The shutters would go just right on our house. The color too. It matches our metal roof color. Is that hunter green?
Have a great day.
Pam

Jennifer3 December 7, 2009 at 9:30 am

Those turned out really cute. Well done!

Michelle December 7, 2009 at 10:18 am

They look great! We are in need of an exterior update ourselves. And we currently have the louvered shutters as well. But I have to say…I like this look a lot better! Simple and cute. Good job!

Claudia December 7, 2009 at 10:26 am

I have been wanting to make shutters for my house too! Those type of shutters are very popular here in the hill country of Texas. Now I am inspired even more to make some too! Thanks for sharing…

Tomato Lady December 7, 2009 at 10:52 am

Jennifer–It depends on the lumber. I used a couple of different types of wood over the course of this project. At the low end, the ones I made of spruce cost $25 per pair lumber only (add more for paint, primer, glue and screws). If you go high-end and use cedar or cypress it will be more like $45 and up per pair, depending on lumber prices in your area. Here, a cedar 12-foot, 1 X 8 is around $15-$16 at the lumberyard, more at the home center ($20-ish). I needed a gallon of each paint and primer for 5 pairs of 72″ X 21″ tall shutters so that adds another $35 or so to the total cost. Box of screws, $8. Brushes, sandpaper, etc., add a little more.

The Bag Lady December 7, 2009 at 11:53 am

They look great! Now you’ve got me wishing I had shutters, but they are wrong for the style of my house.
It’s wonderful to see there are other women out there who take on jobs like this! Makes me feel not quite so alone.

Sarah December 7, 2009 at 12:49 pm

These look incredible! Way to be resourceful, and really, really good work!

Jessie December 7, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I’ve wanted to get shutters for our house, but price was so prohibitive. Thank you for sharing this, now we can make our shutters!

Kat December 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm

You had me at “chamfered edges….”

Carla December 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I am impressed. I’ve never messed with wood. That has always been my husband’s department. They look reeeeeeeeally nice, Tomato Lady!

Fasje December 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Just want to say that I am really really impressed with your wide array of abilities. A little common sense goes a long way!

Eleanor December 7, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Wow! I am impressed! You did a great job. We sure need some shutters. I never would have thought to make them myself. Maybe I’ll give it a try in the Spring.

Doug December 7, 2009 at 6:33 pm

If you want to cheat, there’s an even easier way to do the job. Get a board that’s as wide as you want the shutter to be, then just cut small groves with a table saw. Add a cross brace (not needed for support), paint, and mount and you’re all done. I made cuts with the saw that were probably less than 1/4″ deep and from a distance of more than a few feet, you can’t tell it’s not 3 boards.

Hang out with theater groups very much and you can learn a lot of interesting ways to fool the eye.

Handful December 7, 2009 at 8:38 pm

You are unbelievable. You guys need your own show.

Move over Tim the Toolman :)

I have always liked the look of shutters and never had any. They would look great on my farmhouse too. I will leave the work to Main Man though.

I once tried to hang a picture. Once. Tried.

Mary December 7, 2009 at 8:47 pm

These are just what I want on my house! My husband wants to make, but everything he makes is overdone so I’m expecting them tow weigh 200 pounds and kill him while he’s hanging them on the second level windows!
How much would you guesstimate one shutter weighed?
Nice job!

Don December 7, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Nice! I’m inspired to add some shutters. I spent 5 years as a painter, so I would recommend a tiny bead of chaulk along the top of the horizontal boards to prevent water from getting between the boards and causing premature rot.

Tonya December 8, 2009 at 12:23 am

How wonderful!! Your shutters actually fit the window. Can’t stand those fake shutters they have now that would not ever fit if they tried to close them. They look great!! Thanks for all the tips…

Tomato Lady December 8, 2009 at 1:09 am

Mary–I’m bad at guessing weight, but I can carry them pretty easily. It took one person to hold the shutter up while another person fastened them on. Not bad, and the weight will depend on the size of the shutters that fit your particular windows. Since I couldn’t find prefab shutters as tall as I needed, I’m guessing most shutters aren’t 6 feet like mine needed to be. Hopefully yours would be shorter and lighter.
Doug–Aha! Like it! Very clever.
Don–A very good idea, thanks!
Pam–I’ll go look at the can. I’m sure it has some exotic-sounding name that actually means hunter green. It’s got a little more brown in it than most hunter greens.
All–Thanks for the compliments–it’s a very simple project and y’all could do it just fine, better than me, I’ll bet.

Jamie December 8, 2009 at 8:48 am

Your picture looks like it could be my house, down to the siding and shutter colors, even the windows and blinds inside! It also sounds like it could be my story. Everything pretty much as you said, and I ended up making those very same shutters – exactly! Aren’t we clever? :)

Tomato Lady December 8, 2009 at 9:30 am

Jamie–Wow! Frugal minds think alike, I guess. It just made sense.

Liz December 8, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I think you’re pretty much a genius. The shutters are brilliant. Our (plastic) shutters are faded and starting to look pretty tacky. OK, tackier than nice *new* plastic shutters. This might just be the solution, and I even have the power tools for the job! Though I worry that it might make the vinyl siding (it came with the house, just like the pink tile in the bathroom) look even more cheesy.

Thanks for all your great ideas. I really look forward to seeing your posts pop up in my e-mail In Box!

LaRee November 20, 2010 at 11:14 pm

This reminds me of a story told by my grandma. She says at their house they had ugly shutters, no glass, thats about how long ago, ok? Every few days great grand mother would beg great-grandfather to make some that were lovely and at the very least presentable. But money and especially time being very tight at the time, (he did hew them out of logs etc so it wasn’t so much a money issue then). He would say that there were so many other things that needed his time, that it wasn’t a real need. Well my fragile great grandmother went out one day, took an ax and chopped them off their 1 story home! Lo and behold, they needed shutters now! So great grandfather happily took the time to make some new ones, that were lovely of course.

The happily part is probably just because he was happy she didn’t chop the whole house down while she was at it.

Pat Saunders November 2, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Do you have any directions for building a single board and batten shutter that hinges from the top of the window and can be propped up with a stick or hook and eye? I want to shade the window from the afternoon sun while still getting ventilation. It is for my workshop–the afternoon sun in that window is both hot and glaring.

Thank you,

Pat

Tomato Lady November 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Pat Saunders–Sorry, I don’t have any other building instructions for shutters. You could probably adapt a basic shutter to hinge in this way but I have never done it myself.

David April 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Very Cool, how do you mount to house so you don’t see hardware. I imaging you used screws (I’d use stucco anchors on my house). But I can’t see screws on pictures.

Tomato Lady April 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm

David–Screws would be a good choice. They make for easy removal for re-painting, etc. Mine are actually nailed in, not the best solution, but I had these insanely long nails that had been holding the old shutters up for decades and I saved those and re-used them.

davea0511 April 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

“traditionally sized as if they are functional”
Not always. Most all shutters are decorative and you’ll find that the width of the shutter is now designed with aesthetics as the foremost thought. This is especially true for windows with high-aspect ratios … the shutters look fairly ridiculous if you make them only half the width of the windows. Since your windows are standard aspect ratio your widths are aesthetically pleasing, but only because your windows are standard aspect ratio. Also, if the window is surrounded by a lot of negative space (no other windows or features), then making the shutters a bit wider may improve the overall effect.

Jim June 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm

did you leave any gaps between the lumber for expansion?

Daisy June 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Jim–It’s been a while, but I don’t remember leaving gaps. I put a bevel on the edges which butt which removed a bit of the surface area which contacts each other, but that was probably insignificant in terms of allaying expansion-related buckling. That said, I haven’t had any problem with buckling or bowing. I put a lot of coats of paint on them and that probably helped.

Beverly Hayes February 19, 2013 at 11:08 am

Do you know how shutters like these could be installed on a brick wall? Our house is all brick and I would think you cannot nail or screw anything through that.

Daisy February 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Beverly Hayes–Here’s one solution: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/install-wood-shutters-brick-51709.html
Hope this helps!

Paula April 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Question: from reading these instructions, it sounds like the vertical boards are not actually joined together. It’s the battens that secure the boards together. Am I reading this correctly? Thx

Daisy April 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Paula–Yes, I fastened the boards together with the battens. You read correctly.

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