Here Are the Four Types of Exterior Window Shutters

Learn about the styles and materials available for exterior window shutters.

Exterior window shutters come in four basic types: paneled, louvered, board and batton (sometimes called BnB) and Bermuda. They are available in a variety of materials including MDF (medium-density fiberboard), vinyl, synthetic foam, faux wood and natural wood. Basswood is the most popular wood for shutters.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

Raised Panel

Raised-panel shutters look similar to doors or kitchen cabinets, with a single or double raised panel. Because they have a low profile, they blend well with almost any style of home, including:

  • Victorian
  • Federal
  • Colonial
  • Georgian
  • Cape Cod
  • Ranch
  • French Country
  • Greek Revival
Front Porch and Row of Windows

Front Porch With Row of Windows

Talk about a charming first impression: This New Orleans home delivers, its front porch lined with windows and picturesque shutters. The shutters' blue is the perfect companion shade to the house's gray-green exterior.

Photo by: Latter and Blum, Inc. Realtors, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

Latter and Blum, Inc. Realtors, a member of Luxury Portfolio International


Louvered shutters have angled slats that allow air and light to pass through. These have a more defined look than the more low-key panel shutters, and work best on homes that are ornate, classical or casual in appearance:

  • Victorian
  • Italianate
  • Federal and Colonial (operable louvers are common on second floors of these style homes)
  • Georgian
  • Cape Cod
  • Ranch
  • Greek Revival
Entry to French Country-Style Home

French Doors, Boxwoods Create Delightful Curb Appeal for Manor-Style Home

French doors topped with a curved transom window and framed with antiqued shutters offer delightful curb appeal to this country manor-style home in Atlanta, Georgia. Boxwoods in planters and window flower boxes add small pops of color against the whitewashed brick facade.

Photo by: Dorsey Alston Realtors, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

Dorsey Alston Realtors, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

Board and Batten (BnB)

Board and batten shutters (sometimes you’ll see this referred to as B and B or Bnb) have an Old World and rustic character, thanks to their simple construction. They consist of one to three boards held together with a thin cross panel, which can go horizontally or at an angle across the shutters. Because these have such a characteristic look, they go best with:

  • Mediterranean
  • Cape Cod
  • Ranch
  • French Country
  • Cottage
Home Exterior With Neutral Siding, Blue Shutters and Wood Soffit

Island-Style Home Boasts Blue Bahama Shutters

Horizontal siding, colorful Bahama shutters, a beautiful wood soffit and decorative wood brackets create an island-inspired feel at this Florida home. Tropical foliage enhances the design.

Photo by: Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson


Bahama shutters, also known as Bermuda shutters, are louvered shutters, typically fixed at the top of the window (instead of the sides). Used to let in light and air, they also protect homes from storms and are typically used in tropical regions. They’re beautiful on:

  • Cape Cod
  • Ranch
  • Cottage

Shutter Hardware

Shutter hardware can be decorative or operable, depending on the installation. Hinges and holdbacks are the most common. Holdbacks are also known as dogs, which are metal (or metal-look) tools that keep the shutter from opening and closing.

Rustic Cabin Shutters

Red Cedar Cabin Shutters

Paneled red cedar shutters pop against 1 x 10 cedar siding, stained in a muted shade of sage. The shutter style and paint color were chosen by online voters.

Photo by: Jackson Riley Parker

Jackson Riley Parker

Choosing a Durable Shutter

Shutters made of MDF (and typically covered by another material like vinyl) look expensive but cost less than other options like wood. However, they don’t stand up well to water, and over time can swell and sag.

Vinyl shutters, the lowest end of the cost scale, are hollow PVC shutters with unfinished edges, which are covered with end caps. They have a plastic appearance and tend to yellow. Over time, they can be hard to clean.

Synthetic foam shutters look like wood but cost less. They are water- and fire-resistant and have excellent insulating qualities. They are heavier than wood and can’t be stained, but they are probably the best option for synthetic shutters.

Faux wood can be used in place of wood, and because of its stiffness, is a good candidate for tall or wide shutters. These cost less than wood and come in a variety of colors and shapes. If poorly made, joints can fail over time.

Basswood is now the most popular wood for shutters, outpacing pine and poplar. These can be painted and stained, and are light, flexible material that makes them good for a variety of designs. However, they’re not moisture resistant and they cost more than synthetic shutters.

How to Make Exterior Wood Window Shutters

Refresh your home's curb appeal with these easy-to-build board-and-batten-style cedar window shutters.

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