DIY Plantation Shutters

 I’ve admired plantation shutters from afar for years! They are classy, streamlined, and effortlessly beautiful.

via Houzz

 

 

 

 

 

 

My southern grandmother use to tell my grandfather (regarding other women) that he could look but not touch. From the moment I laid eyes on plantation shutters I was in love but when I learned of their hefty price tag it sadly became a ‘look but not touch’ scenario for me!

You better believe I searched for budget friendly options though!:-)  For the size of my kids’ bathroom window (22 3/4 in. x 58 1/2 in.) even the ‘budget’ plantation shutters I researched  cost an upwards of $260 to $300 for the shutter!

Some websites sell do-it-yourself kits where you receive the materials ready to be constructed and then you put them together.  I thought that these kits may be reasonably priced but after filling out a couple of online quote forms I discovered that they were almost as expensive as the already made ‘budget’ options.

So off and on over the past couple years I’ve researched how to build them myself.  I haven’t come across any other blogs or diy-ers who have attempted this feat so I had to dig a lot deeper.  Today I will share with you all I have learned and show you how I built my own plantation shutters.

How to Make Plantation Shutters Tutorial

 

One of the most helpful resources that I located during my research is the website www.shuttercutter.com.  HERE they have a free tool to help you know how to measure your window(s) correctly and what your cut list should be.

They also provide Shutter 101 basics such as the diagram below as well as definitions and explanations for each shutter term (Note:  It is helpful to be familiar with the terms below before reading on).

 

Plantation Shutter

Lastly, they sell all the materials needed to make your own plantation shutters at the most fair prices out there!  (Note:  I am not being paid or compensated in any way for this opinion just sharing a resource that helped me in building my plantation shutter).

Below is the supply list for my particular shutter.

Plantations Shutter Supplies and Prices

 

It is important to note that I wanted my particular shutter to have a divider rail.  Because the shutter was for the bathroom I wanted a top section and a bottom section.  The bottom section I would keep closed for privacy and the top I would always keep open for natural light.  To simplify this DIY don’t use a divider rail just have the slats all controlled by one tilt rod.

 

DIY Plantation Shutters

 

Also I only used one shutter panel to cover the whole window.  If you are using two or more panels to cover your window you may want to buy a rabbeted stile from shuttercutter.com that allows the panels to connect seamlessly (preventing light from bleeding in).  I did not need to so I just bought wood for the stiles from Home Depot since it would be a little bit less expensive.

 

THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT: 

1.  The first thing I did was paint the basswood louvers I ordered.  They have the option to come primed but I decided to cut costs and do it myself.  This would also be a good time to paint your stiles, rails, and tilt rod.

Painting Louvers

 

2.  Next I measured and marked where the holes would go on the stiles (the vertical rails).  Measure up from the bottom rail 1 1/2 inches and then 3 inches between every hole.  2 1/2 inch louvers are spaced 2 inches apart , 3 1/2 inch louvers 3 inches apart and, 4 1/2 inch louvers 4 inches apart.

How to Make a DIY Plantation Shutter

 

3.  Once I marked both insides of the stiles I put them up to each other to make sure they lined up exactly!  I’m not a perfectionist but with plantation shutters you have to be precise for them to look right so try to be a precise as humanly possible.  After making sure the marks on the two stiles line up, make holes where the marks are using a 5/32 drill bit.

How to Build Plantation Shutters Yourself - Copy

 

4.  Then go back and make the holes for the bottom rails and top rails and divider rails (if you have any).  In the diagram on shuttercutter.com they use 2 inch wooden dowels to connect the rails to the stiles.  In retrospect I wish I had as well.  Instead I knew I would have extra tension pins and thought I would just use those to connect the rails to the stiles.  I will explain later what happened but for now use two wood dowels instead of tension pins as shown below.

Measuring for Plantation shutters

Connecting Stile and Rails - Copy

5.  Now that the rails are connected to one of the stiles place the nylon and tension pins into that stile.  Tension pins should be used in 25-30% of the holes.  So if you have 16 louvers 4-6 of them should contain a tension pins and the rest nylon pins.

Building Plantation Shutters - Copy

6.  Now measure and mark a dot on the center of both ends of each louver.  Drill a hole on the dot with a 9/16 drill bit.

How to Connect louvers to Plantation shutters - Copy

 

7.  Slip the louvers onto the nylon and tension pins so that they are connected.

How to install louvers to plantation shutters - Copy

 

8.  Next is the trickiest part and it may be helpful to have another set of hands.  Place tension and nylon pins into the other stile.  Make sure that the tension pins are in the same number hole as on the other stile.  Now move the stile with pins sticking out close to the side of the louvers without a stile.  Match the stile up to the correct place.  Now starting from the top one by one manually shift the pins from the stile to the louver so that each louver is connected to both stiles.  In order to do this neither stile will be flush with the louvers (as shown below)

How to Make Plantation Shutters

 

9.  Make sure all of the pins are at least a little bit in both sides of the louver holes.  Then on the count of 3 (and with an extra set of hands) push the stiles towards each other so that the pins go all the way into the louvers and the louvers and stiles become flush against each other as shown below.

How to DIY Plantation Shutters - Copy

 

10.  Now we will be getting the louvers ready for the tilt rod.  To do this measure and mark the center bottom of each louver.  Drill a hole with a 1/16 drill bit and screw in an eyelet screw.

Building Plantation Shutters with moveable Louvers - Copy

 

11.  Next cut the tilt rod to size and hold it up to the shutters where it would lay when the shutters are closed.  Then turn the rod on its side and place a dot on the back of the rod exactly where it meets the eyelet screw on the louver.  Note:  Before using eyelet screws I tried employing staples in the louvers but they kept falling out, hence, the photo below shows staples on the louvers.  Just pretend they are eyelet screws.

Building Plantation Shutters that have a Tilt Rod - Copy

 

12.  Next with your 1/16 drill bit drill a hole in the rod where the it is marked and screw in the remaining eyelet screws.  Then with needle nose pliers or the tip of wire cutters pull the eyelet screws open as shown below.

How to Attach a Tilt Rod - Copy

 

13.  Next starting from the top one by one connect the tilt rod eyelet screw to the corresponding louver eyelet screw.  Then close the eyelets on the rod with the needle nose pliers as best you can.

How to Install a Tilt Rod to Make Plantation Shutters - Copy

 

14.  Okay so this is where we need to come back to the 2 inch wooden dowels conversation.  If you remember from the diagram at the beginning shuttercutter.com recommended using 2 inch wooden dowels to connect the rails and the stiles together.

I wish I would have made the holes for the wooden dowels and then filled them with wood glue and pushed the rail and stile together and let it sit for 24 hours before adding the louvers.  Then after the louvers were added do the same thing for the other stile in joining the rails.

Instead I used tension pin to connect the rails and stiles.  I didn’t feel this connection was sturdy enough so using a countersink drill bit I drilled a hole into the outside of the stile where the stile meets the rail and screwed a 3 1/2 inch screw into it.  The counter sink drill bit allows the screw head to go all the way into the wood so that it is flush with the wood and doesn’t stick out at all.

The problem I had with this method is that when I drilled the screw in the rail and stile kept separating at the last minute. I asked my hubby to push the pieces of wood together while I drilled but it still wouldn’t stay tightly fit together.

How to Secure Stile and Rails

I used white caulking to fill in the small gaps between the rails and stiles and it looked great.  However, the problem came when fitting the shutter to the window sill.  I had thankfully left a 1/4 gap for the hinges but since the rails and stiles would not screw in all the way together the shutter was about 1/4 wider than planned.  Hence, the plantation shutter fits so snugly into the window sill that there is no room for the hinge hardware.

So, my plantation shutters will have to be manually removed if I ever need to get access to the window (which realistically won’t be happening unless there is a fire and we need to jump out that particular window because heaven knows I won’t be cleaning that window ever anytime soon and if I need to open the window I will be sticking my fingers through the shades like a crazy lady trying to shimmy the darn thing up so I don’t have to take the whole shutter off)!:-)

Do yourself a favor and use wood dowels and glue to connect the rails and stiles.  Shuttercutter.com has some great hinge options as well as home depot who sells this 2 1/2 inch narrow utility hinge in a 2-pack for $4.37.  This is what I had bought and now will be returning.

Installing plantation shutters

For more mounting info click HERE

I’ve been so happy with how the plantation shutters turned out and it has allowed the room to receive an abundance of natural light.  I won’t lie it was a lot of work especially with doing all the preliminary research!  But as with 95% of my DIYs I can look back and say it was worth it.  And heck if you’ve made it this far in the post it shows you have what it takes to get through anything!;-)  You can do it!

Kids Bathroom Blue and GreenDid you miss my kids/ guest bathroom makeover? Click, HERE.

As always let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them!  Have a great weekend!

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How to Make Plantation Shutters Tutorial

64 thoughts on “DIY Plantation Shutters

  1. Kristina

    Wow! You are awesome! In the last few weeks we have had 3 estimates for plantation shutters for 3 windows only. I knew they were costly, but holy cow. Your shutter looks incredible, and I am not going to show my husband this post, because he will want to do it too!

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    1. Tamara Post author

      Hi Darryl. Yes, I’m pretty sure they are still in business. I remember the same thing happened when I tried to call. I ended up going ahead and making the order online and my items came well packaged and in a quick amount of time. I did notice on their website there is a form you can submit where you can ask them to call you. It is on the “contact us” page. I would give that a try! Good luck!

  4. isaiah Snell

    I cannot WAIT to try this!!! I wanted these for so long but I had a house fire and the new place I got was mainly for the property and it had a decent mobile home on it but at 22,000 for a home of any kind and 5 acres with over 200 of 4wheeling and hunting area all around us I will not complain..lol…but just trying to make it a little nicer and cozier while we start our building process is hard because you def do not want to put a lot of money into a place you know you will not be at to much longer but do not want to be embarrassed to have people stop in either!!! lol TY for this!!

  5. farmmama

    Living here in the south..these will be just perfect!! I have two larger south-west facing windows that like to kill us in the afternoons! The glare! In the summer the heat!! I am definitely going to try this! I thank you thank you thank you!!

  6. Holleigh

    I came across this on Pinterest and this is one of the BEST pins I’ve ever seen! I’d googled for this in the past and thankfully this popped up in my feed. I’d lost hope that this was possible because of budget restrictions.

    If you don’t mind me asking, when did you make your purchase from ShutterCutter? The reason I ask is because on their youtube instructional video, a couple commenters thought that ShutterCutter was not in business anymore. I sure hope that they are!

    Thank you so much Tamara! This is the best…. literally!

    1. Tamara Post author

      Hi Holleigh! Thanks for your kind compliment!:-). I bought the materials from shuttercutter in October 2014. I just visited their website and it looks updated and like they are still very much in business! I’m not sure why the commenters thought they were not in business but it definitely looks like they are in business! Happy plantation shutter building!!:-)

  7. Jennifer Medley

    Your shutters look fantastic. What was the total cost of the one bathroom shutter? About how many hours of time did it take for the project?

    thank you
    Jennifer M

    1. Tamara Post author

      Hi, Jennifer, thanks for your questions! The one bathroom shutter came to a total cost of about $60 which may sound like a lot but when I got price quotes for “budget” shutters for this size nothing came in under $260. It’s hard to say how much time it took because I worked on it mostly when the kids went to bed each night. If I had to guess I would say maybe 5-6 hours?? If you end of DIY-ing them let me know how it goes!

  8. Val

    Hi Tamara, I’ve just found your blog and can’t stop reading it, have more than 20 tabs open in my browser with different articles of your and am torn apart which one to read first :) What an amazing blog!
    How did you drill all these holes exactly where they are supposed to be and keeping them perpendicular to the surface? Especially the ones in the louvers for the eyelet screws (I am failing to imagine this with the louvers already assembled). Did you use any jig?
    Thank you for the wonderful blog! Have you ever considered writing a book?

    1. Tamara Post author

      Hi, Val! Thank you so much for the kind compliment!!:-) I didn’t use a jig. I just worked very carefully, being sure to measure concisely and to mark the spot where to drill concisely. I’m not a perfectionist but on this project I had to make myself be super exact. I found it easier to drill the holes on the louvers once they were attached to the stiles because I could lean the shutter against the wall and work on it head on. I measured and marked where each hole should be then turned the louver opened horizontally as straight as I could and came in with the drill as straight as I could. Hope this helped you visualize it a little better!!

  9. Betsy D Dean

    I just come across your post. This the only DIY plantation shutter tutorial I have ever seen!!! Wow, am I impressed. I don’t know if I will ever attempt to actually make them but I’d like to think that I could if I followed your tutorial. Thank you for all your research & time in making this post available to others.

  10. Teresa

    Thank you so much for your tuitorial. Your shutter looks wonderful, and after reading your post, I think I can do it. I have a new front door, called for a price for a shutter for a 29×52 window, and was qoted $400.00. Thank you so much for doing all of the research for the rest of us!

  11. Mary Ruth

    We have had directions for years, never had time to do the project.. but, now retired.. we might try it, your Pinterest photo had the link to this site and I am glad I came to check it out! GREAT explanation and thanks so much for the motivation and photos! I feel I could do this!!!
    Thanks for breaking this down and simplifying it to take the ‘mystery’ out of making a shutter!

  12. Martha Felgar

    Well, I have looked, and looked for plantation shutters for my oddly sized windows. You have inspired me! I am going to try it, will let you know how they turn out.

  13. Lynette Snow

    Oh thank you for posting this! I have been wanting plantation shutters in a room with 2 large windows, but I didn’t know how to purchase ones that would match my baseboards and board and batten. Now I do..and can do it for so much cheaper! This is my next project.

  14. Rex

    Hi, just an update. The shuttercutter.com site still has a closed for thanksgiving message on the website, and when i try the phone number it says voicemail is full. I am sad about this. If anyone comes across another resource for getting pre cut wood parts, please do update the thread !!!

    1. Rex

      Hi, yes, sorry I should have been more detailed…. the main website is up/workimg.. however when i click on the MATERIALS page (I believe that initiates the order process?) the out for Thanksgiving message pops up. I emailed them – – maybe they just haven’t done maintenance on that specific webpage. Will see if they get back to my email too :) i just sent one as well. Fingers crossed, i know its a family biz, hope all is O.K. with them.

      1. Daniel

        Very sad news. The website has been updated and there is an illness in the family. They are looking for someone to purchase their company so perhaps it will reopen soon.

    1. Tamara Post author

      Hi Lexis! I have found a couple of other websites that sell shutter parts. This one, http://www.rockler.com/basswood-traditional-or-plantation-shutter-slats-16-length?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=&utm_content=pla&utm_campaign=PL&sid=V9146&gclid=COzVzK3u1csCFYsCaQod8ywFFw seems to have decent louvers and this one, http://www.shuttermedic.com/build-a-shutter.htm seems to have the other parts like louver pins etc. I hope this helps and I will continue the search for a company like Shutter Cutter that has it all!:-)

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