Exterior shutters are both a decorative and functional element for your home. They add a classic touch to any exterior. If hinged, they can also provide protection against intruders and harsh weather. When adding new shutters or replacing ones, it’s important to consider the material from which they are made first.

Make the wrong choice of material, and you will need to replace them in just a few years. Select the right one, and you will be making an investment in your home. Plus, you’ll get decades of good looks and great use.

What Are the Material Options for Exterior Window Shutters?

You will find several material options for outdoor shutters on the market. Let’s look at four of the most common ones, their attributes, and their weaknesses.


If you see an advertisement for cheap exterior shutters, they are almost guaranteed to be vinyl. These shutters are made from extruded PVC plastic that’s hollow inside. They are purely decorative and are often seen on new tract homes in cookie-cutter neighborhoods. The shutters attach directly to the siding and do not open or close. Vinyl shutters are relatively low maintenance since they don’t need regular repainting or cleaning.

One advantage vinyl has is that it will not rot. Unfortunately, the sun’s UV rays will damage the vinyl over time, eventually causing it to fade, split, and crack. If damaged or starting to deteriorate, the only real solution is to replace it. The vinyl cannot be fixed and is very difficult to repaint. The hollow core makes it impossible to put hinges on, so it does not offer any protection against people or bad weather. Plus, these look like plastic.


Wood is the classic material used for outside window shutters. This material has been used for centuries, if not millennia. Shutters made from wood come in dozens of styles, suitable for just about any home. Wooden shutters are solid and can be both decorative and functional. Their solid core makes them easy to hinge and attach for opening and closing.

Wood has definite advantages over vinyl. The solid material makes it possible to hang the shutters on hinges. This offers the option of protecting the house. Plus, if the wood fades, it can be refinished or repainted.

Wood has its problems too. Wood will eventually rot, because its fibers are made to transport moisture through a tree. That moisture attracts bugs and bacteria, leading to rot. Paint or stain can slow this down a little, but these shutters often need to be replaced or repaired within just a few years. Wood can also split and crack as it starts to deteriorate.

Among shutter materials, wood is on the high side when it comes to maintenance. These shutters need routine cleaning and repainting to keep them from rotting or warping. They cannot be sprayed with a pressure washer due to potential damage to the surface and water introduction to the wood fibers.

Wood Composites

Wood Composites
A newer material used to make exterior shutters for windows is wood composite. The interior of this shutter is MDF, medium density fiber board. It’s made by combining wood fibers and glue. The outside is wrapped in vinyl, which allows it to resist rot. Because it has a solid core, this material can take hinges. Due to the manufacturing process, it can be made to look very close to real wood.

Wood composite does have certain advantages over regular wood exterior shutters. It resists rot much better. However, it doesn’t withstand it, forever. Wood can last up to 10 years, while wood composite can last up to 15 years. Plus, it can also split and crack like real wood.

This wood composite material is lower maintenance than wood, due to its vinyl wrapping. However, care must be taken not to damage the wrapping.

PVC Composite Shutters

Another newer material for exterior house shutters is PVC composite. These shutters are made from stainless steel reinforced PVC. The shutter itself is solid, which makes it easy to hinge. It comes painted from the factory or can be painted on site. It has a lifetime guarantee against rotting, splitting, warping, or deteriorating.

The best part? It looks just like wood. It comes in a number of styles and sizes, making it easy to find the right fit for any home style.

PVC composite exterior shutters offer the traditional look of wood without all of its problems. They can be used to protect the house against thieves and other intruders, as well as bad weather. Maintenance is minimal.

If you are in the market for exterior shutters, consider the material first. It’s the difference between an investment or something you will need to replace quickly. Durability and strength is what you get with Forever Shutters here at Flower Window Boxes. Check them out today!

Author Bio

Matt Buquoi works at, a company that offers premium-quality, no-rot flower window boxes, exterior shutters, cedar gables and outdoor planters at affordable prices.