How to Install Exterior Shutters

Three Parts:Assembling Your MaterialsAttaching the HardwareAttaching the Shutters

Exterior shutters can add visual appeal to the front of your home and can protect your home's windows against heavy wind and rain. Use these steps on how to install exterior shutters if you are planning this home improvement project. Note that this article outlines the installation of the shutters inside the window casing, which will only work if the casing is made of wood or if there is a brick stop for a veneered exterior wall.

Part 1
Assembling Your Materials

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    Measure your windows. Getting the measurements to your windows is the absolute first step to installing shutters – without measurements, your shutters likely won't be the right size. This is because shutters rest inside the window casing, their size determined by the size of the window.
    • If you're making your shutters yourself, you need the measurements. If you're getting shutters from a home improvement shop, you need the measurements. And if you're getting your shutters custom-designed, you need the measurements. Have these in hand when you go to the store.
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    Pick out your shutters to fit inside your window casing. The shutter needs to be 1/4" (.635 cm) smaller than your window on all sides, nestled in the casing. So if you're going to pick out your shutters, this is the size you're aiming for. Since you know the size of your window, this shouldn't be a problem.
    • You can, however, use shutters that don't fit if you don't want them to close. There are many shutters that are used for only decorative purposes. They are attached to the exterior walls and are immobile.
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    Prep your shutters. Your shutters should be exactly how you want them before you begin the painting process. Once they're up, they'll be incredibly difficult to change, even if it's just the tiniest bit. Make sure the shutters you have are the shutters you want hanging.
    • If you're painting your shutters, be sure to paint every side – all six sides that is, not just the front and back. You want the tops, bottoms, and sides, painted, too. In certain positions, every side is visible.
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    Buy the hardware to hang the shutters. In this article, we'll be using terms to describe the hardware that you may or may not be familiar with. Here's what you'll need to hang your shutters:
    • Hinges. This is the piece that allows the shutter to swing. There are four and they are placed in each corner of the shutter and window casing. They may be referred to as a "strap hinge."
    • Pintle. This is the base of the hinge. It is what is attached to the house.
    • Tiebacks. This is also referred to as a "shutter dog." It is attached to the house and keeps the shutters open. There are two, and they are attached at the bottom of each shutter. They are often decorative.
    • Pull ring. This is attached to the inside of the shutter. It is what you pull to close the shutters. There are two.
    • Latches. This is attached to the inside and is used to keep the shutters shut. There is usually one or two.
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    Shim the shutters in the window. "To shim" means to place a small wedge in between two surfaces to align them. This will help you get that 1/4" on all sides. To begin shimming, place one shutter in the window, within the casing. Have a friend hold it as you shim it with a 1/4" wedge on top and bottom. Position the other shutter and repeat.
    • Once both shutters are in, re-position them so you have a 1/4" gap on all sides. Do not remove the shutters just yet.
    • The wider rail of a shutter always goes on bottom. The simpler panels should face out when the shutters are closed on paneled shutters. On louvered shutters, the louver openings should face down when the shutters are closed.

Part 2
Attaching the Hardware

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    Start with the upper hinge pintles. If you recall from above, the pintle is essentially the base of the hinge, which is attached the the window casing, not the shutter. To begin:
    • Hook the two parts of the hinge together.
    • Position them at the top of one shutter on the casing.
    • Center the strap (the long arm of the hinge) on the top rail of the shutter, keeping the pintle on the casing.
    • Using a level, check that the pintle is plumb.
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    Mark the locations of the screw holes for the hinge. You want to make marks for both the strap (the arm of the hinge) and the pintle on the shutter and casing. You'll need to do this for each hinge to assure it's centered properly and aligned.
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    Drill pilot holes at the points just marked on the window casing. Set aside the strap and your pen and pick up a drill/driver fitted with a drill bit sized for your hardware’s screws. Then, drill pilot holes at the marks for the pintle and the strap hinge. Screw the pintle to the casing. The strap is left alone for now, as it attaches to the shutter itself.
    • Repeat this step for the other upper pintle. Remember to mark the prospective holes needed for drilling so everything is centered and proportional.
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    Mark the locations for the screws for the bottom hinge. Using a level, draw a plumb line with a pencil down the window casing from the top pintle to where you want the lower hinge. This will make it to see if both sides are even. The lower hinge should be centered on the bottom rail, in the same manner as above.
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    Attach the bottom hinges. Screw the two lower pintles to the casing. The same method you used for attaching the top hinges should be used here. Again, don't worry about the straps – they'll go on in a bit.
    • If you don't have strap hinges, check the instructions that came with the manufacturing information for a more detailed and accurate process for you. As the majority of hinges for shutters are strap hinges, they will be the ones focus on here.

Part 3
Attaching the Shutters

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    Remove the shutters and place them on a sawhorse or a similar area. Now that half the hinge is attached to the wall, the other half needs to be attached to the shutter. You'll be drilling holes into the shutter, so make sure you're on a surface where it's okay it may get damaged.
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    Drill pilot holes into your marks and attach the rest of the hinges. If you followed the above instructions, you've already made the appropriate marks and know exactly where to drill. Bore pilot holes at your marks through the strap on the top and on the bottom rails.
    • Then, using the appropriate screws, screw the strap hinges into position. At this point, the shutter is essentially done.
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    Position and fasten the latch. Before setting up the shutters, position and fasten the pull rings and the bolt for the latch to one of the shutters. Whether the bolt on the left or the right is up to you.
    • Place both of them just below the middle of the shutter, where you will be able to reach them through the open window. Take into account your height, yes, but also the height of anyone else who may be shutting the window.
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    Put the pins through the hinges to hang the shutters in place. Once all the pieces of hinges are assembled, your shutters are ready. Move them back and forth to make sure they're in the right place, that they swing comfortably, and that they can fully shut.
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    Mount the shutter dogs. This is the hardware that keeps the shutters open; they're attached to the exterior walls of the house. Open the shutters all the way to begin the process. Here's how:
    • Position each tieback or shutter dog on the siding under the shutter, 4 inches in from the shutter’s outer edge and 1 inch below the bottom edge.
    • Check that it can indeed hold the shutter open. Do this by holding the bolt up against the house. Then, spin it sideways to check that the shutter can swing close, clearing it.
    • Once everything's where it should be, mark the bolt’s location and drill a pilot hole on that mark.
    • Twist the bolt into the siding with a wrench. Repeat this process for the other side.
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    Attach the locking hardware. This is done on the inside of your house – the outside is done! Close the shutters and move to the inside of the window. This part is easiest to do with a friend. Have them hold the shutters closed, while you do work on the inside. Here's what's left:
    • Position the other pull ring in line with the one you attached before. Mark the screw holes, drill pilot holes, and attach the pull ring.
    • Position the latch. It should be in line with the bolt and the pull should be below it. Slide the bolt into the latch to test it – it needs to lock properly when closed. Again, mark the screw holes, drill pilot holes, and attach the latch.
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    Attach a capping to protect the surfaces. With a bit of silicone adhesive, squeeze a bead on the underside of the copper capping and slide it over the top edge of the shutter. This will seal the area and keep the surfaces protected.


  • Due to the size and weight of the shutters, plan to have someone help position and hang them.
  • Position the shutters so that the wider rail is on the bottom.
  • Be careful that you do not drill all the way through the shutters. Wrap a piece of tape around your drill bit several times so that only the exposed portion of the bit is only as long as the depth you want to drill.

Things You'll Need

  • Shutters
  • Paint materials (if shutters are not already finished)
  • Shims
  • Shutter hardware (hinges, latches, bolts, locking mechanism and interior pulls)
  • Pencil
  • Power drill
  • Screws for hinges
  • Level
  • Sawhorse
  • Tape measure
  • Silicone glue
  • Copper capping

Article Info

Categories: Doors and Windows