Colonial Shutters Vs Plantation Shutters

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Interior window shutters offer room darkening for sound sleep as well as the option to let in streams of daylight when you want them. Although all interior shutters are casually referred to as “plantation shutters,” this type of shutter actually comes in two distinct styles: colonial and plantation.

Learn more about the differences between colonial and plantation shutters, and which might be best for your home.

Colonial and Plantation Window Shutters: Two Different Purposes

Both colonial and plantation style shutters started off as a way to control indoor temperatures and help keep people comfortable. The major difference is that colonial shutters developed in northern climates to keep out the cold while plantation shutters adapted to hot, tropical areas and were designed to help keep homes cool. These different purposes resulted in the distinctive slats of each style:

  • Colonial shutters have shorter and narrower slats to create a more effective seal against the cold.
  • Plantation shutters have wider, longer slats for better ventilation during hot days.

Plantation styles are available in wood, faux wood and vinyl. Colonial shutters on the other hand are generally only made with traditional wooden construction.

What Are Colonial Shutters?

Also referred to as traditional shutters, colonial window shutters developed in the northeastern United States and have been around since before the American Revolution. They’re commonly seen in early American style homes and are the more delicate looking of the two styles. Here are a few colonial shutter basics:

  • Louvers are usually 1¼ inches wide, ¼ inch thick and spaced about one inch apart.
  • Their louvers are most commonly wedge shaped but may also be flat.
  • Because louvers are so thin, colonial shutters let in a bit more light when closed than plantation shutters.
  • Colonial panels are thinner and narrower than those of plantation style shutters, making them well suited to the smaller windows in traditional northeastern homes.
  • Although they’re native to northeastern regions, many western homes with a simple historic architecture decorate with colonial shutters.
  • Colonial shutters may be difficult to find since manufacturers now concentrate on the more popular plantation style.

What Are Plantation Shutters?

Plantation shutters got their name from the old plantation homes they protected from the heat. During the 1950s they became popular coverings for the wide glass windows in California homes, earning them the nickname, “California shutters.” These basic facts will help you get a feel for plantation shutters:

  • This style is considered the more modern choice and fits well in contemporary homes with large rooms.
  • Panels are thicker and wider than colonial shutters coming in at about 1.125 inches thick.
  • Louvers range from 2½ to 4½ inches wide and are most commonly elliptically shaped although they may also be flat.
  • Louvers fit tightly when closed, and let in very little light.
  • Since manufacturers are concentrating their efforts more on plantation shutters than the colonial style, lots more plantation styles and variations are available.

How To Choose Between Colonial & Plantation Shutters

If you’d like to add interior shutters to your home you’ll need to choose between colonial and plantation styles. Here are a few more facts to help with your decision:

  • Homes with modern architecture and décor are usually best suited to plantation shutters.
  • Traditional historic homes often fit best with colonial shutters.
  • If durability is your primary concern, you may want to consider plantation shutters since they’re available in long lasting, tough vinyl.
  • For those requiring a very dark bedroom to sleep, plantation shutters block out more light.
  • If your home is drafty, colonial shutters may help your space feel cozier.
  • If your home is often too warm, you may prefer plantation shutters.
  • Colonial shutters often are better suited to small or narrow windows.
  • Plantation shutters are perfect for wide, expansive windows.
  • Price is about the same for the two styles.
  • For families with small children, either style is more child-safe than blinds or drapes with long cords.

Ultimately, whether you decorate with colonial or plantation shutters is a matter of personal taste. Both styles are attractive ways to temper the elements and give you some flexibility about how much light you’d like to let in. No matter which you choose, you’ll enjoy a low maintenance window treatment that offers privacy and compliments a variety of decorating styles.

Last Updated: November 13, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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