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In today’s shutter world there has been an explosion of best shutter construction methods, points of origin and materials that did not exist 10 years ago. These methods and material all have their advantages and disadvantages.


Here is some information for you to make sense of the shutter world and its terminology.

Terminology & Types 

MDF (Medium Density Fiber)

MDF (Medium Density Fiber) shutters are also called “hybrid” and “composite” along with some other trade names. All these window coverings are made from MDF as the base material. MDF is basically sawdust mixed with glue and other chemicals and formed in the shape required. The coatings range from a vinyl wrap to a painted finish. Advantages are cost to manufacture and cost to the consumer. They look very much like more expensive wood shutters, but they are not. Disadvantages are their inherent inability to stand up to water, they have the habit of swelling and the finish peeling when exposed to too much moisture. They are unstable and can warp much easier. The material is brittle and can easily break under impact. The material will eventually sag under stress over a long period of time. They cannot be successfully stained. This material in may cases carries the poison known as FORMALDEHYDE. This material from ASIA is rapidly becoming a major part of the window covering market due to its cost and appearance. Bottom line think of IKEA furniture


PVC or (Poly Vinyl Chloride)

PVC or (Poly Vinyl Chloride), is an extruded hollow vinyl. The material is extruded PVC which is either a hollow extrusion or one which also has some reinforcing webbing on the interior. This has been around about 12 years. It can be identified by its appearance; it is not finished and the edges of the blades have caps to seal them. The connectors to the tilt rods are plastic “t” connectors which tend to break. Its advantages are its low cost. Disadvantages are the “plastic” appearance, a tendency to yellow when exposed the strong sunlight, some brittleness after exposure to UV, and a limited choice of colors. After aging, the material can be hard to clean. They cannot be stained. Please note that the fumes when it burns are very toxic and the material will out gas (release chemicals) for the life of the product,

Foamed Synthetics

Sold under various trade marks such as Thermalite, Poly Therm R, Duracore™ etc. Its advantages include its more reasonable purchase price than wood shutters, depending upon the seller. They are water resistant, fire resistant, non toxic and provide excellent insulation. Some designs ( Poly Therm R and Duracore™) come with a reinforcing aluminum center and thus have a much more rigid construction, which prevents sagging and bowing. They are available in shapes and many colors. This material is most like wood in appearance. This is probably the best choice for a synthetic shutter. Disadvantages, they are heavier than wood and not as stiff so the design can be limited as to its capabilities, unless they have are aluminum-reinforced. They cannot be stained. Most companies will not build these taller than 80 to 96 inches.

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