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Advice | Plantation Shutters - Wooden Shutters - Lancashire Shutters - Bolton

buyers advice

Helping you decide the perfect combination for your home

Plantation Shutters have a unique simple style that integrates beautifully with either traditional or contemporary interiors. Our premium quality custom made shutters are available in a range of materials styles and virtually any colour.

What are Plantation Shutters?

Plantation shutters are louvred panels fixed either inside or outside windows and doors. They originated in America and the West Indies and date back to before the American Civil War. The term "Ante Bellum" means pre-war and is used to describe a style of plantation shutters. The louvre shutters offered by Lancashire Shutters are "Ante Bellum". What are solid shutters? These are panels that have no louvres. They were originally installed in reveal boxes in pre-Edwardian houses and were only used a couple of times a year, when the owners de-camped for the season. They were not designed to be opened and shut daily like our present designs and that is why so few remain today.

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What louvre size should I choose?

When making your louvre choice, consider the size of the window and the desired effect. Generally larger windows command a larger louvre size.
The larger the louvre, the more light you will have but less privacy.
In the USA most shutters are made with 3.5 (89mm) louvres or larger but here in Europe we tend to generally choose smaller louvres such as 47mm or 64mm. 32mm (available in cedar Hemingway only) is used a lot in bathrooms but also looks very good when painted white and used on café style installations in living room windows where the street maybe very close by.
If you have Georgian style windows with small windowpanes then we would definitely advise using the largest louvre possible or the windows can look very busy.

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How many shutter panels do I need in my window opening?

Our smallest panel width is 200mm and widest is 750mm, although with larger louvre panels we do sometimes go wider but void warp warranty with your permission. Generally a window looks best with 4 panels, two opening as pairs either way. A 3 window bay, however, will usually have 2 panels on the smaller side windows and 4 in the centre. All panels will open away from the middle.
There are as many exceptions as there are norms. For instance, a long window with 3 panes of glass, i.e.; 1800mm wide and 1000mm high, would have 6 panels; three folding either way or if you are only going to open them to clean the windows you could easily have just 3 panels. The Americans never open the shutters, only the louvres so design with large panels.
A lot of the time you will have to consider where the panels are going to fold back to and if there is enough room for this to happen. This is also true where you are fitting inside the reveal next to the window and you will not want the shutters, when open, to protrude into the room too much.
We would not recommend hanging more than 3 panels from a single batten hinged together unless they were not going to be opened apart from window cleaning and were resting on the sill or door step. As the maximum recommended width of our panels is 750mm you may say that this equates to 4500mm maximum width but it would be asking a lot of the batten to hold panels of this width and weight without sagging at a later date. So quite a lot of common sense is needed to achieve a good installation. Openings over 2200mm generally need a top track, even if not using a top track at this width try to use a light panel such as Hemingway or Truman.
For partitioning or for large windows where tracking is needed at the top to suspend the panels you will really need an even number of panels or they will look odd and not hang from the track properly. Ideally 8 panels or 12 panels for very large openings is best although quite often it is wise to hang even 6 panels from tracking if they are quite large. With the heavier Fleming shutter this is clearly an option to be considered. We do not charge for tracking, it comes in the square metre price for the opening.
In summary, the window will normally dictate the number of panels. If the window is split into two halves you would either have 2 or 4 panels and it follows that if it is three panes then three or six panels will suffice. The vertical dividers of the windows are where the vertical stiles of the shutters should be ideally.

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Our supplier uses their most efficient methods to make the shutters that are known to us. They re-use whatever wood is from a process somewhere else because they are in the timber business and know our future depends on responsible management of the earth's natural resources.
They even use the sawdust to power generators that power our plant and provide hot water. The 3 large turbines they use to do this cost more than the average shutter companies entire production equipment. This is what they call investing in conservation. Our competitors invest mainly in conversation.
Their packaging is made biodegradable cardboard, they even make the packing inserts from cardboard. All recycling waste facilities in the UK will accept our cardboard. They do not use bubblewrap, they do not use polystyrene and they spend extra money in our processes that they could turn in to more profits to avoid mucking up the planet.
Where are Lancashire Shutters made? They are made in Southern China, which is a 2 hour drive from Hong Kong by car.
Many of our competitors go on about the fact that our supplier's products are made in China, as though this is a bad thing.
They are amongst the first to make custom products in China it is true, but they have had to employ the most modern methods to do this. They actually make shutters in less than a day from order. They use very sophisticated and expensive computers and machinery to do this. They have to make a very good product as they don't want to have to alter it here or maintain it. The owners of our facility have invested tens of millions of US dollars to make our products as good as they are.
Their workers do work reasonable hours for above average pay. They have careers and housing and kids at schools with mobile phones and so on, just like here. China is not a third world country; they make some of the highest quality products on offer here, including our shutters.

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Does wood warp, shrink, change colour or age in any way?

Yes it does, all of those and so it should. If it doesn't it is not natural.
Cedar can warp in very rare occurrences like any wood but is less prone to do so than virtually any other timber we know of. We do give you a guarantee though against significant warping. See our terms and conditions. To date though we have had less than one in 2000 panels do this. Similarly Cedar can shrink and does but also very little and we always advise fitting tight in the first instance. Shutters can quite easily be adjusted should this occur as it is never that much but it is probably better to leave them as they can just as easily swell again should the humidity increase.
Wood is a natural material and with its inconsistencies delivers pleasure. We do make perfect shutters because the market today expects perfect manufacture. Rustic looks are so because they are products made in rustic environments with basic tools and little technology, or badly/cheaply made or specifically finished to look that way. We think buying old Levis is OK if you don't want to wear them for long. If you want an aged look then you can add it later, order it specially or just wait until it happens naturally. In fact within a week or two they develop a more lived in look and your decor adds character by proxy too.
And finally on this subject: Valuable antique furniture looked new 100 years ago and our shutters will be valuable antiques too, in a 100 years. Your curtains won't be. If you have young children still in their destructive period you should definitely consider shutters. If you do break louvres or damage a panel seriously we can usually remake one exactly from our records or replace louvres in situ.

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What colours and stains are available?

View the colours section of this site for a full list of colours and stains that are available for each shutter range.

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Can shutters be installed on any window?

Shutters can be installed on virtually any window, French doors or patio sliding doors. They can also be used effectively as room dividers fitted on tracks. If the window/door opens inwards they can always be mounted outside of the reveal. Bypass tracking allows for the shutter to slide pass each other and is used where there are overhangs preventing the panels from swinging out.

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How do I measure my windows and doors?

For a quick quote just measure the width and height of the opening. For DIY self measure and install, we offer a 20% discount. Please contact our office for further details.

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What about maintenance?

Shutters are easily cleaned using a feather duster, damp sponge/soft cloth or run a vacuum cleaner over them. The finish product should not need repainting for many years. Indeed, the Fleming shutters are totally maintenance free and cannot be re-painted in any event.

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How long from order will it take to get my shutters?

Shutters are custom manufactured to fit individual openings and are ready for installation in 6 to 8 weeks from the date of the order and receipt of the deposit.

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Can I fit the shutters myself?

Of course you can. Some of our customers have fitted even very complex tracked installations beautifully. If you know how to scribe, use a planer and possess a level plus a level of practical common sense then go for it. We issue comprehensive fitting instructions and are available on the phone should you get stuck to help you out. But, if you are anything like me, a person who has to cut a piece of wood several times to get the right length, then definitely not.

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Do you offer onsite measuring and installation services?

Yes, please contact our office whereby a surveyor will arrange an appointment for you. Alternatively, forward your details on our "survey request" form on the website and we shall contact you.

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What if my windows are not square?

There is virtually no such thing as a window that is perfectly square. If using battens the side battens are 25mm thick and can be scribed to square off the window. You have really about 20mm of play with these. If the window slants the shutters will emphasise this as they are square and we do not advise trimming them lengthwise as when opened will look very odd.
Frames are used a lot now and for reveal edge fixes and outside fixes, this is really the way to go. Inside reveal fixes are possible as long as the window is reasonably square. The new L frames we use are great and are scribal should that be necessary.
You will always find an optimum position however for the shutters that looks right.
If they look right, then they are right!