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  • Writer's pictureJoel Guyer

Options for Installing Custom Plantation Shutters

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

There are several ways to install plantation shutters and each method is dependent on several factors such as trim around each window, depth of the window (distance between the face of the trim and the window sash), and the needs of the homeowner. Let’s discuss the main options.

Direct Mount

This method of installation involves attaching the panel hinge directly to the wood trim around the window. For this to work, the window has to be almost perfectly square and level or the shutter will hang crooked and the gaps around the panel will be uneven.

Direct Mount

The shutters in the picture above were installed by using the direct mount method. The window trim was perfectly square and deep enough to allow for the depth of the panel. We measured, manufactured, and installed these shutters.

Another consideration for this type of install is louver movement. The window has to be deep enough to allow the louvers to open fully! Most installers don’t even attempt this method because it is much more difficult to get the shutters to look just right and because most window trim is not very square.

Hanging Strips

Similar to the Direct Mount option, this method doesn’t use a frame that helps the shutter to sit square and allows for even gaps around the panel. Instead, the panel is attached to a ¾” x ¾” light blocking strip and the strip is attached to the inside of the window framing. This only works for shutters that are being installed inside of the window casing.

Unfortunately, we have seen shutter companies install this way on an outside mount and it looks terrible. Most of these companies specialize in blinds and wind up doing plantation shutters because it is another window treatment product. But plantation shutters are a completely different type of product and require the same kind of installation skills that kitchen cabinets do.

While we almost never use this method because it really never looks as good as the other options, most of our competitors use this method exclusively because it’s easy. Be careful when you hire a custom window treatment specialist – we aren’t all the same!

L Frame

Always used for an outside mount and sometimes used for inside mount plantation shutters, this is the most common type of frame used and there are several types. It is called “L Frame” because the profile is shaped like an “L.” L frames are one of the best methods of installation because they allow the shutter to be attached to the window at more points, the gap between the panel and the frame is even all the way around the panel, and the frame (if installed correctly) can virtually disappear into the window casing itself.

The picture below shows different types of L Frame. There are other types, but they all function basically the same by casing the panel and attaching to the existing trimwork.


The gap between the panel and the frame should be 1/8” at the top and bottom, and in between panels, and 1/16” on the hinge side. Without the proper gaps, the shutter will look crooked and out of place. We find that many homeowners who have seen shutters in a friend’s house are shocked at how much better their own shutters look because of the “finished look” of frames and the even spacing of light around the panel. Not all shutter installs are equal!

Z Frame

Only used for an inside mount, this type of framing is similar to the L Frame in that it provides even light gaps around the panel, and the frame can virtually disappear into the window trim when the color match is good, and the install is done well.

This picture shows some of the different Z Frame types that are available. You can see that some of them even substitute for the window trim itself. We use these on windows that are surrounded by finished drywall but no wood trim. It's a nice option for homes that don't already have wood trim, but the homeowner wants the look of trim.

Z Frame

One main advantage of this install method is that the shutters will be almost completely flush with the window trim face instead of protruding into the room a couple of inches. Of course, this means that the window has to have a couple of inches of depth to allow for this type of install, so it can’t be used in every home.

A company that specializes in custom plantation shutters should know when and how to use each of these methods effectively. If a company bids on plantation shutters at your house, make sure they explain how they plan to install them so that you can make informed decisions.

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