by Harvey Bond
The best wood for building interior wooden shutters is basswood. The tree can be found from Quebec south to Delaware and the Atlantic coast west to Eastern Kentucky with an average height of 65 feet.
Basswood is a renewable resource and careful forest management ensures that the harvesting is done responsibly by balancing the wood growth with wood removal.
Basswood interior shutters are very straight and they also have a fine uniform texture with a very indistinct grain. The wood machines well and is
easy to work, screws well, glues well, and it can be stained to a smooth finish.
Basswood shutters do not warp, they are lightweight yet very strong, offer uniform grain for a superb stain finish, and they offer superior gluing and finishing properties.
Oak is a very heavy wood which makes for very heavy window shutters. Oak interior shutters will add a lot of weight to window jambs, with screws requiring pre-drilling. They aren’t suitable for painting and the louvers tend to warp over time.
Maple is heavy like oak and produces interior shutters that are very heavy. Maple also requires that the window jambs be pre-drilled. The wood louvers with maple are hard to tension uniformly.
Poplar shutters mill and paint very well. The mineral streaks and green color help make popular wood unsuitable for staining. For shutters, poplar wood is moderately heavy. The wood is widely available and less costly, although it also produces a lesser quality of wood shutter.
Cedar wood mills and finishes nicely, although the color varies greatly for staining. Cedar is pretty soft and can dent or scratch very easily.
For exterior shutters, cedar works very well. The amazing durability and resistance to decay of incense cedar makes it perfect for exterior use wherever moisture is presented. Requiring long service with very little maintenance, it’s also hated by bugs!
Alder is an excellent choice for interior shutters, as the tree is very small. Tall window shutters using alder wood will require finger joints.
Pine is a soft wood, with many different species and grades available.
Always remember that there are also poorly constructed wood shutters that will rank very low on the scale of quality. You should always look for a smooth, well sanded surface, thick durable paint, glued and doweled joints, and a straight light hardwood.
Before you commit to any shutter company, always request a sample so that you know what to expect.
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