Expert Contribution

No Regrets…

A 5-Part series on Selecting the Best Shutter (Part 4)

The finish is what you see first. Of course we are talking about the paint or stain finish. Remember when we were talking about the conditioning of the wood, and how the wood should be very dry, and that most companies get this step right? When the wood is ready to be painted it’s referred to as “thirsty”, because it will soak up the primer and paint so readily. The first coat of primer is applied, and the wood absorbs the primer deep into the wood. As it’s applied, the edge grain can curl up as the wood absorbs the primer. This small curl needs to be removed before painting can continue or the finish will not be smooth. Ideally, after the first coat of primer is applied, the wood is hand sanded to remove the curl. Next the wood is primed again, and there will be more curl. Hand sanding should continue between coats of primer and paint to ensure the ideal finish. Unfortunately most shutter companies just put layer on layer of primer and paint and the curl gets more and more pronounced. When the shutter is in the window the curl will be visible as the sun will highlight the shortcuts taken during the finishing process. 

There is another issue with paint finishes called overspray. This is caused when the paint is applied unevenly, or more commonly when a coat of paint is applied when the preceding coat hasn’t fully cured. The paint will pool along the edge of the louver and look uneven. This is a sign of a shutter that is rushed in it’s production. It’s sad that so many companies put their sights on getting a shutter done sooner than they should rather than taking a little more time and doing it right. 

The installation of the shutters is very important and the installation starts at the measure. Imagine if we select a wonderful wood that is properly cut and dried, constructed with mortise and tenon joinery, painted with an 8 stage finishing process, and then the dealer sends out Micky Mouse and Goofy to do the install. All the good work you did becomes meaningless. It’s important to select an installer with years of experience and good online reviews. As an installer myself, I can spot the heroes from the zeros in a minute. To help you out though here are a few questions I’ve asked when interviewing installers before. “What makes you a good installer?” If they have arrogance or cockiness then that’s a red flag. The best installers I know are humble and always learning. Another question is “Do you prefer to use screws or nails for installing shutter frames?” If they are dismissive of either that’s a sign of an immature installer. The fact is that both methods are useful depending upon the frame selected and the application. A good answer will be “With this frame and these openings I’ll be using ________.” This is a sign of a thoughtful well rounded professional. 

By Shem Isaac, Home Living Windows