What Shutter Style is Right for My House?
To determine shutter style, look at old photos. If you don’t have any, look around your neighborhood for similar houses and see the kind they have. You can usually tell if the shutters are original. Keep in mind that your house may have been built in 1800 and the shutters replaced in 1900 with a shutter style popular at that time. Shutter style and hardware are also regional. You can contact your local Preservation Commission if you have one although I doubt if any of them could provide any help. Try them anyway; if not, call a Preservation Architect and ask for a recommendation. Your State Historic Preservation Office will have a listing of qualified Preservation Architects and consultants.
Many buildings before 1750 had exterior shutters. During this time and through the mid 1800’s interior shutters were common. Some homes had both interior and exterior shutters. Some early homes that only had interior shutters, later added exterior shutters.
Board and Batten shutters and Raised Panel shutters were used during the 18th century and into the 19th century. Strap Hinges were used and Rat-tail style tie-backs were most popular. Note that Board and Batten shutters do NOT have spaces between the boards like those made today. Board and Batten shutters varied, some with tongue-and-groove planks. These shutters were used on cottages and more primitive structures while raised panel shutters appeared on more refined structures.
At the end of the 18th century louvered shutters began to gain in popularity. Up to the Civil War, homes had raised paneled shutters on the first floor for privacy and security, but did not have any shutters on the 2nd floor. Louvered shutters were often added to the 2nd floor as a later addition.
Around 1800-1830, Butt hinges came into use but were not popular since they broke easily. Strap Hinges were the most popular. Tie-backs rods were mounted on the sill. Most styles were dependent on what the local blacksmith produced. Operable Louvered shutters began being manufactured 1830-1840.
At the time of the American Civil War, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing and steel suddenly became less expensive. Acme Lull & Porter, Butt and “H” Style hinges were being produced and became popular, although Strap hinges were still available. “L” shaped surface mounted hinges came about in the late 19th century.
The Acme Lull & Porter hinge was actually patented in 1854. Click here for patent details .
From what I have seen in the New Jersey area, most Victorian and Colonial Revival houses have Face Mounted and Edge Mounted hinges with operable louvered shutters. This is the same for pre-Civil War architecture, but in this case, probably, because their original strap hinges were replaced with the more contemporary and popular hinges of Victorian times. Unfortunately today, shutter manufacturers are selling Surface mounted hinges for every type of architecture. Please be aware of this.
“S” style Shutter Dogs were mass produced in 1930’s. They should be used only on houses built during or after this period only. Early 20th century architecture such as Arts and Crafts, Bungalow, and Foursquare homes were usually without shutters.
From 1915 through the 1920’s, Colonial and Cottage style homes had mostly solid panel shutters with cut-out designs. Louvered and the rustic Board & Batten shutters were also used. Although rare on Arts & Crafts homes, If Bungalow and Four-Square homes had shutters, they were usually solid panel with cut-out designs or half-louvered.
Here are some shutters from the 1920’s period.
I was surprised to see a 1920’s Colonial house following the format of an early 18th century house. This house has paneled shutters on the first floor and louvered on the second floor.
Board and Batten shutters from the 18th century would not have the decorative cutouts. Those with cutouts are from the 1920’s. All Board and Batten shutters would have either cross bracing as in the photos above or “Z” bracing.