Can I install plantation shutters myself?
From time to time, homeowners ask me whether it’s possible to install shutters myself.
Now, I’m a pretty handy guy, good with tools and machinery in general. I’ve personally spent forty years in this business, including ten of those years installing shutters, so I’ll give you my own personal story regarding installation. The first shutter I installed was over a kitchen sink. This window was small, around three feet square. It took me four hours to finish installing that shutter to my satisfaction. Then, gradually, as I gained experience, I became able to do similar work within roughly fifteen minutes. This should give you an idea regarding the learning curve, skill, and aptitude required to install a well-made custom shutter. It’s not so easy, even if you’re handy with tools!
Many shutter products are offered online with so-called “easy” instructions. When you take a closer look, though, these products routinely offer only very simplified installation methods which, although they do cover the window, don’t include a decorative frame with mitered corners to mount your shutters within and lack many of the basic features we take for granted with custom shutters. Remember those book shelves you made as a kid with cinder blocks and wood planks? These DIY shutters are the equivalent of those primitive shelves. Genuine custom shutters are like fine furniture. I have found that most homeowners really do want beautiful shutters with an excellent finish and decorative trim that are structurally correct and that will enhance the beauty of their home, not just something that looks like an afterthought.
Finally, one of the greatest challenges to installing shutters happens beforehand. Nobody wants shutters that don’t fit their windows properly, look out of square, and are improperly mounted! Properly measuring windows for a shutter installation must take into account squareness, louver projection, design and other complications that are crucial to accomplish a nice-looking shutter installation. This takes roughly six months of design training and about two years of installation training for a person with an aptitude to fully master these skills.
So, can homeowners install their own shutters? In theory, this is possible, if we have the skill, time, and experience level, and yet even then homeowners are prone to error. In short, I would say that custom shutters should be left to trained professionals to install, with all due respect to all of the homeowners with tools and chop saws at the ready!