Wooden Shutters

The Best Wood for Wooden Window Shutters


Various types of hardwoods are used in the production of wooden window shutters. Hardwoods were the standard material long before manufacturers started making shutters from faux wood and other man-made materials.

The six types of hardwoods used are alder, basswood, cedar, maple, oak, and poplar. Pine, a soft wood, is also used to make wooden window shutters.

We asked a few experts for their professional opinion because we wanted to find out which type of wood works best. There were some interesting comments about the different types of wood, but everyone we spoke with said that basswood is the top choice for wooden window shutters for the interior of a home.

We will discuss the other woods in a moment, but we’ll start with the one getting the highest recommendation… basswood.

The basswood tree is part of a species that grows in many of the temperate climates of the northern hemisphere. In Europe and Britain, they are called lime trees, while in North America they are called basswood or linden trees. By the way, the name lime is derived from an old Middle English word and it has nothing to do with the citrus fruit called a lime.

One of the reasons that basswood is the top choice for wooden window shutters is because is has the unique characteristic of being lightweight and yet exceptionally strong and durable.

This hardwood does not warp. It has ideal properties for gluing and finishing. Basswood has a nice uniform grain although it is indistinct. The wood looks great when a stain finish is applied.

Unlike some other hardwoods, basswood is low in resin and tannin, and that’s good because resin and tannin might bleed through a stain finish.

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Basswood, like many other natural materials, is a renewable resource. Careful management of hardwood forests can balance the removal, or harvesting, of wood with the growth of new wood. Thanks to responsible harvest management, the United States grows twice as hardwood as it harvests each year.

Now let’s take a look at the other woods that are used to make wooden window shutters.

Alder is also a good material for interior shutters. The experts picked alder as their second choice, right behind basswood. However, since alder trees are smaller, only shorter lengths of wood are available. This means that finger joints will be needed to join two pieces of wood for taller window shutters.

The disadvantage to cedar is that it can easily be dented and scratched. Staples meant to hold the tilt bars in place do not hold very well due to that disadvantage.

A strong advantage for cedar is that is has a high level of resistance to decay. Also, insects are repelled by cedar. That is why it such a popular wood for making hope chests.

The experts we spoke with agree that wooden window shutters made from cedar are best for the exterior of a home. This is because of the durability and the resistance to decay. Plus, it holds up well even when moisture is present.

Although oak is one of my favorite woods, the experts pointed out a few items of concern that make it less favorable for wooden window shutters. Oak is a heavy wood and it adds a lot of extra weight to window jambs and it might put too much stress on a window jamb of inferior quality.

With oak, the screw holes need to be pre-drilled, otherwise the wood has a tendency to split and splinter.

Unfortunately, the louvers on an oak shutter are more likely to warp than those made from other woods. The experts advise against painting oak shutters because when the wood warps, the paint will crack and the warping becomes more noticeable.

The comments made above about a heavy wood that adds a lot of weight to a window jamb and the screw holes needing to be pre-drilled also apply to maple. In addition, it will be a challenge to get uniform tension on maple louvers.

This is a moderately heavy wood that can cost less than other hardwoods. Poplar shutters look best when painted. Staining is not recommended due to mineral streaks and a natural greenish tint.

Pine is a soft wood that is sometimes used for wood window shutters. The main problem with using pine is that quality is not consistent because there are so many different species and grades of pine.

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We hope this information comes in handy when you’re in the market for wooden window shutters. For one thing, it might help you know if the salesperson really knows what they’re talking about or if they’re just flapping their gums, as an old friend used to say.