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Do-It-Yourself Interior Window Shutters - Cheaper than Plantation Shutters

The problem with my huge kitchen & dining room windows is they face the neighbors house, which is only about 6 feet away. This is also where they store their trash cans and their gate is on this side so they are often walking back and forth. With such an awful view I have always kept the blinds closed. This leaves the room very dark. I wanted to install plantation shutters so I could open the top and let in the light and leave the bottom closed for privacy. The cost would be well over $500.00 per window and having just spent quite a bit of money on cabinets & tile I decided to find a cheaper solution.


The Problem: A large window with an awful view.

The Solution: Homemade shutters.
I bought some bi-fold closet doors for $30.00 a pair, this cost $60.00 per window. I cut off the top and removed the upper slats. I bought 2 woven blinds at Pier 1 that were on sale for $15.00 each and cut them to fit in the opening. This lets in the light and makes the room much brighter. They are not yet completely finished, in fact the ones on the right aren't even mounted yet. Below you can see how they were constructed.
From the picture above you can see that I cut the bifold doors down quite a bit. The picture on the left is the cut off part on the miter saw. I cut the side off the scrap piece and used it for the top part of the frame. It was simple to attach with wood screws.

These are paint grade doors which means they might have some imperfections that show up if you try to stain them. I think they look pretty good and I want them to match my maple cabinets so I chose to just put a clear finish on them. I used 3 coats of Minwax water-based polycrylic.

What you need to watch out for when painting or staining these types of doors is drips, especially through the slats. I solved this problem by hanging them from the garage ceiling. I have some large hooks up there where I usually hang my bike. I painted the top then hung them up before painting the lower half. This made it very easy to check the back side for drips.

I purchased some cove molding for about .50 a foot. I used the Ryobi miter saw to cut it to fit inside the opening. This covers all the gaps where the slats used to be and gives it a nice finished look. You may want to do this step before you paint. Since I was using a clear finish I used wood glue to attach the molding and stapled them in the corners on the back side. If you plan to paint you may want to use small finish nails instead.

To the right is the back side of the shutter. I cut the material to size and stapled it to the back of the shutter. I then cut some flat screen molding to finish the edge. In this picture you can see the molding on the upper and right side.

You can use any type of material you want for your screen. Stained glass, blind material, plexiglass, lattice panel or whatever you desire. I used screws to attatch the molding on the back which will face outside. This will make it easy to remove the molding and replace the material if I want to change it in the future.

The louvered doors come with a track and are designed to be hung from an upper door frame. You can use regular hinges and throw the track away. In the image above you see my temporary plywood countertop. This will be replaced soon, and you can't see the bottom of the shutters because of the cabinet height.

You can probably see that they don't close completely. They are actually about 1 inch wider than the window. You have several choices on how to handle this. One is to just let them jut out a little bit. I think this looks fine, except that it means I can't get my cabinets all the way flat against the wall. I could use a plane and shave 1/8" off both sides of each shutter. I do have to wonder what the chances are that I would get them all straight and level. The third option is to use an outside mount. This is what I plan to eventually do. Below are some links that will show you the options for installing and mounting plantation shutters. You will find some good diagrams that show the many available options. Because windows are often out of square you may find an outside mount may be the easiest way to go.

This project was done by a women. Do it herself and save!

Tools I used which will make the job much easier are listed below. I have found that most problems occur because of not having the proper tools. Think how much money you are saving by doing this yourself. Invest some of your savings in tools that you will be able to use for future projects.

Ryobi 10 In. Compound Miter Saw - (about $99.00) I was going to be lazy and not bolt this to the table like the instructions said. After all I was only cutting small molding. Glad I changed my mind and bolted it down. This saw has a lot of torque when it starts up!

Ryobi Cordless Nailer/Stapler - (about $70.00) This does not come with the battery and charger but I already have two that came with my circular saw and drill. I appreciated only having to pay for the tool and not another battery. The nailer uses the Ryobi Single Battery Pack that is compatible with all Ryobi 18V tools & chargers. If you don't already have one it can be purchased seperately. I bought an electric stapler - brad nailer and returned it because it wouldn't drive the nails very deep. They Ryobi is awesome and being cordless is a great plus. Dewalt also has a nice 18v finish nailer but it costs over 4 times as much as the Ryobi.

Ryobi tools are lower cost than most and great for household use. If you are a contractor using a tool all day long every day you probably want to pay the higher price for brands like DeWalt, Bosch and others. Ryobi tools can be found at Homedepot.com

Self centering hinge bit - I just found out about these little gems and ordered one. You are going to need to put hinges on the outside of your shutters. So you hold up the hinge, mark the hole and predrill. They never line up exactly right. This tool makes mounting hinges a snap and gives you a perfectly centered hole every time. The outer portion centers itself on the hole in the hinge, then just press and drill. They are available in several different sizes, depending on what size screws you will be using.Click Here to Check Out the Self Centering Drill Bit

Click to view Composite Wood Plantation Shutters at Blindsgalore

Plantation Shutters, New Yankee Workshop DVD

Now if you are really industrious you may want to create some standard type plantation shutters, in which case you probably need to order some Plantation Shutter Plans. Who better to learn from then good old Norm.
Norm shows you how to make your own custom plantation shutters for an inexpensive price. He starts by building a selection of jigs for drilling holes, setting staples and mortising hinges. After machining the Basswood slats, he mounts them on a control rod and frames the assembly. The completed shutters are then painted and installed, resulting in smooth operation and a truly impressive appearance. Includes measured shop drawings.

Click for Order Details

Plantation Shutters, New Yankee Workshop DVD

Plantation Shutter Installation


Shutter Classic Installation Instructions

Atlanta Shutters - Shows how to attach hinges, attach hanging strips and align your shutters.

Do It Yourselfer builds his own plantation shutters.

HGTV - Do it yourself twig shutters

Discovery Channel - Birch twig shutters

Interior Shutter Plan and Hardware Interior Shutter Plan and Hardware
Rockler has the plans and hardware to install custom-made or store-bought shutters in any window in your home! Rockler rocks for woodworking tools & plans!

Interior Shutter Plan and Hardware


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