If you’ve never heard of Bahama shutters, you’ve seen them if you’ve ever taken a trip to the beach or seaside where hurricanes are common. The shutters open vertically and have slats on top of each other, and the biggest point is that the shutter hinges on top of the window like an awning. In Southwest Florida, they serve a range of purposes. They can be decorative, provide shade, and they can withstand winds up to 120 miles per hour while complementing Cottage-style, Ranch, and Cape Cod-style homes.
Beach houses rely on shutters, but they can be expensive. You can get bahama shutters DIY projects going to help protect your home against hot weather and strong winds without breaking the bank. They work well for indoor or outdoor purposes, and they cover windows to help your home’s exterior. We’ll walk through a bahama shutter DIY tutorial below for you.
Bahama shutters are protective window coverings that work well for homes in hurricane-prone areas.
Where Bahama Shutters Originated From
Bahama shutters are also referred to as Bermuda shutters, and they get their name from where they came from. They were originally from the Bahamas and Caribbean in the late 1800s. The shutters gave protection from tropical storms, heavy sunlight, and bad weather. They are also called hurricane coverings and storm shutters. You should note that hurricane covering is a very broad term that encompasses many types of window coverings.
Types Of Bahama Shutters
There are several types of bahama shutters available, and some designs look like washboards while others are faux shutters. Faux bahama shutters will have flat slats that don’t overlap, and this reduces how much protection they offer. Some people will use them as ornamental shutters instead of for protection. The following are popular options, but you can’t really get a DIY bahama shutter tutorial on some of the materials due to how complicated they are to work with:
Aluminum shutters have heavy extruded aluminum as the material. It’s one of the most popular options for this shutter style. It’s cheaper than wood, stronger than composite, and it’s not as artificial as you get with fiberglass. They give you a very nice view outside, and they may just be your best option. Aluminum is the top window covering option in the southeast portion of the American hurricane belt.
Composite shutters are more durable than wooden ones. They come in a range of styles and colors, and the catch is that composite can mean a large range of materials. As decorative metal shutters for your windows, they’re a decent option. However, you don’t want to buy low-quality shutters. Learn as much as you can about each one before you buy them, and review the materials with a professional if you can.
Fiberglass is for insulation, and it works well on the inside of showers and bathtubs. It has more benefits than drawbacks, and it’s resistant to fire and water. However, fiberglass isn’t as durable and will break if you impact it. If you have asthma, you want to avoid this material. Plus, you’ll have to recoat it every few years. But, it doesn’t corrode like aluminum, and this makes it nice for humid or wet environments.
Plastic is the cheapest choice you have, and it’s not a durable style that will offer storm protection. However, if you have something else supporting your shutters and appearance is the main thing you’re worried about, this style is okay. If you’re on a budget and you want a beach house look, this is a good choice. Remember, they’re not actually effective if you live near a beach.
Wood shutters require maintenance, and they’re not as strong. The shutters are great for calm climates. They are very popular for people who prefer wood over other materials. Wood is very easy to replace, and many people like the idea of this material. If you have hardwood floors or furniture, the wooden shutters can complement your home. You can find handmade wooden shutters to fit your preferences and tastes too.
Cost Of Bahama Shutters
The cost of your bahama shutter DIY project depends on the material and style. If you get prefabricated options, you’d have to set a budget of $50.00 a square foot at a minimum. This is higher for more high-end materials and plastic is cheaper. You can get custom-made shutters, but this also drives the cost up. If you shopped until you found exactly what you wanted, they may be cheaper than window blinds. The job doesn’t need more than two people and a few hours to install, so this shouldn’t drive the price up a huge amount.
DIY Bahama Shutters – Step by Step
Now that you know what value these shutters bring to your home, it’s time to learn how to follow this bahama shutters DIY tutorial to make them yourself. A few of the main things to consider include:
1. Understand the Building Code
Every region has unique building codes, and it’s essential that you check with the local authorities about the requirements you have to follow when you create and install these shutters. One of the most common requirements is that your bahama shutters DIY tutorial lie almost flush with the building when you finish and close them. This ensures you get total protection during the storm.
2. Take The Measurements
The single most important steps in any DIY project is to get the right measurements. Many projects fail because people choose to use estimated measurements and this is a problem you want to avoid with your shutters. Take the inside measurements of each window frame using a tape measure and record everything on a piece of paper. These measurements are critical when it comes to ordering materials for building your shutters. More importantly, when you build your shutters so they meet the building code requirements, you avoid fines.
As with any project you take on, your bahama shutter DIY tutorial won’t work out unless you have the correct measurements from the start.
3. Figure Out all the Materials and Equipment You Need
To ensure you pull off this bahama shutter DIY tutorial, you should get a good idea on all of the materials and equipment you’ll need and list them out. To do this, you’ll need to understand this shutter’s design. These are louvered shutters that have hinges at the top to allow you to push them open and close them. For the design, you’ll need the following materials and equipment:
- Cedar wood or preserved hardwood
- Corner clamps
- Drill and bit
- Hinges, bolts
- Louver slats
- Mortise tool
- Varnish and wood glue
The wood quality should be very high to avoid chipping, warping, or another other type of damage. Go for the best wood like cedar to guarantee a longer lifespan.
4. Cut the Rails and Stiles
After getting all of your materials and tools in order, you can start the project. To make your bahama shutter DIY tutorial, you’ll:
- Cut your vertical pieces or rails that will run the entire height of your window, and cut the stiles to fit the outside of the rails using the measurements you took earlier.
- Follow your measurements from earlier, but add at least an inch on either side for the tenons. The bottom stile on your shutters should be extra wide to give it more support.
- If you plan to have more than one mullion, you want to make sure to cut these to fit between the outside and not alongside. Don’t forget to add an inch to your measurements for this piece.
- In each rail, you’ll cut mortises where the tenon of your louver slats will slide in. Do the same on the stiles for your mullions. To prepare your mortises correctly, use a drill outfitted with a mortise tool or router.
- Double-check the level of your mortises by putting the rails against one another. Use sandpaper to scrub the top, corners, and bottom surfaces of each rail.
- Dry fit your louvers into the rails as you continue to work but don’t glue them in place yet. For the best end results, sand the surface where your parts join and apply varnish to stop water damage.
- Now that you have all of your shutter parts, you want to join them using glue and put a corner clamp at the joints. Start with the interior mullions, and leave it overnight to make sure it stays.
- Sand the fittings in the whole shutter after you loosen up the clamp, stain your frame and the louvers, and then apply paint or varnish for the final layer to seal it.
Bahama Shutters DIY Tutorial Parts and Pieces
You’ll need two pieces of hardware to install your bahama shutters to your windows. You’ll need a suspension brace or hinge at the top and an extension bracket at the bottom that work in tandem to give the shutter the proper support and angle it requires. The key to being successful with installing it starts with the measurement phase of your bahama shutter DIY tutorial. If you skip this critical stage, you won’t be able to complete the installation.
The top mounted hinge creates a fulcrum for the shutter to pivot and extend away from the window along the bottom. Brackets or stays help to stabilize the panel in a stationary open position, and they’re between the shutter and the window. Some stays will release and lock closed for more protection when it storms.
It’s relatively easy to install these shutters as long as you follow an organized set of steps. The installation process will vary from one window to another, and this makes it necessary to modify the stems and adapt your process to each approach.
You’ll want very durable hinges on your shutters that can support their weight and survive exposure to the elements.
Bahama Shutter Hinges
A small amount of hinges are common for the installation process. Homeowners have come up with an impressive range of unique apparatuses to hang their bahama shutters, but we advise on only going with a technique that is reliable.
The most popular method uses aluminum with a sliding track hinge. This system will suspend your shutter in front of your window trim, and it’s created out of two pieces. You’ll have the piece that secures to the top of the window and a second piece that screws to the top face of the shutter’s exterior. The shutter hinge gets sold in lengths up to four feet, and you can trim them if necessary. If you have a winder window, you may need more than one hinge.
There are several advantages of installing these shutters on the top sliding hinge. This method can be accomplished on shallow or deep window openings, and it fully supports your shutter’s weight. The horizontal edge of the extended hinge works to protect the top of your shutter from the heavy rains, and it makes it easy to level when you install it. The hinge mobility allows you to lift your bahama shutter up to an impressive 80° away from the window. This hinge comes in a neutral black, but you can easily paint it the same color of the trim if you want.
Multi-hinge systems work when you mount them in alignment with the two outside stiles of your bahama shutter. Some hinges come designed to nest your shutter inside of a deep opening, and others give you enough clearance for the window shutter to mount on the outside of the opening. Each hinge has two components that interlock with a central pintle. The heavy steel or cast iron material helps you get a very solid look and feel with a reliable service.
Bermuda Hinge Alternatives
Homeowners will craft DIY supports to help hold your outdoor shutters in position. They can consist of a wedge-shaped wooden block or a bent metal bracket. This can be one of the cheapest methods to hold your shutters open, but it may reduce how functional they are in the long run.
Bahama Shutter Stay Options
A shutter stay will produce a division between the lower part of your shutter and the window. There are several options available to perform this task, and the most popular ones use a telescoping aluminum arm with caps that swivel on either end. The arm can get trimmed to get your correct length. Some stays can lock and release in a closed position to protect from storms. Extended hooks that loop into the opposite side eyelet can work to project the shutter outwards. You can fabricate a custom bahama shutter arm from a range of materials. Some people choose to use wooden stays in very decorative shapes to enhance their home’s character.
Bahama Shutter Open Angle
The best angle to have your bahama shutters open to is subjective. Some louvers can be fixed at 45°, so to get maximum visibility through the shutter, you’ll have to install it at a 45° for any louvers that are parallel to the ground. It can be a good idea to drop this angle slightly so water gets directed away from the window and doesn’t collect on your horizontal louver. For shutters that are at street level, this angle may cause them to project too far out into your livable space, so you may want to drop the mounting angle more. The further your angle goes from the ideal one, the more your sight line from inside reduces. You want to avoid installing them at an angle greater than 45°.
If you have to install your bahama shutter DIY project on several windows, it’s a good idea to be consistent with the angles you use through all of the windows. Taller wooden shutters will need longer mounting arms to keep the angles identical from window to window.
You should decide how far you want your shutters to open before you start the installation process to ensure you can still have a decent sight line when they’re open.
Bahama Shutters Installation Instructions
If you’re ready to install your bahama shutters, this section will quickly walk you through the process. First up, we’ll outline the installation tools you’ll want to have on hand below.
Bahama Shutter Installation Tools:
- Black spray paint (optional)
- Drill bits
- Hack saw
- Pencil or awl
- Phillips driver bit
- Staging table
- Tape measure
The installation process is relatively straightforward after you follow our bahama shutter DIY tutorial and have them cut, put together, and sealed. To install them, you’ll follow the steps we outlined below.
- Separate the top track hinge from the bottom to start, and trim the top hinge to the shutter width using your hacksaw. Cut it slightly longer if the top channel will get crimped later to prevent the hinge from sliding. File your cut edge and hide it with matching spray paint.
- Next is the paint installation screw heads in a non-corrosive metal or stainless steel. Your header screws need to be long enough to grip into solid material. Shutter side screws need to be short enough so they don’t go over the 1.5-inch shutter depth. IF you’re attaching the hinge to block, brick, concrete, or stone, use tapcon screws. Drill screw holes into the header bracket, spacing them 1.5-inches from either end and equally spaced no more than 10-inches apart.
- Align your bracket with the top of your window, and level and pre-drill your holes slightly smaller than the screws. Next, secure the screws into the holes.
- Cut the lower hinge leaf with the hacksaw next. You want to size it to the width of your shutter panel, of, if you want to crimp the top channel later to prevent the hinge from sliding, you’ll trim it slightly shorter than your shutter’s width. Fill in your edge with paint so it blends in.
- Center your screw to the top front face of your shutter, and make sure that your shutter is right side up and the louvers are pointed downward.
- Slide your shutter side hinge into the header channel. If your shutter is extremely wide or you don’t have space to the side of the window, you’ll want to remove the top hinge leaf from the window. Connect the two portions of the hinge and then lift the shutter and reattach your header screws to the house.
- Remove the linchpin on either side of the shutter stay, and connect your end brackets with a pin.
- Hold between the window and your shutter. One bracket should rest on the back of your bahama shutter side stile roughly three inches from the bottom. The other bracket should push against a flat surface on the window trim or siding.
- Next, mark the horizontal position of the shutter-side bracket. Release the linchpin, align your shutter-side bracket, and pre-drill it. You may need to remove the shutter for this part. It’s common for the bottom of your bracket to align with the top of the bottom rail. However, you may find it necessary to get an alternate location. Don’t drill any deeper than 1-inch for a 1.5-inch thick piece of wood. Anchor your bracket with screws and reconnect your brackets while noting where your window side bracket is.
- Pre-drill and screw your widow side bracket in the correct place next. Hold your shutter at the final resting angle, and measure the throw or distance from one bracket to the next. Remove your shutter stay and end caps before you release the tension screws and remove both caps.
- Cut your central aluminum arm, making sure you subtract 4.25-inches from your desired throw. Reconnect your end caps and reconnect the support arm next.
- Repeat the process to install the second shutter stay on the opposite side. Pince the ends at the top hinge channel. You can use pliers to crimp the opening to prevent the shutter from sliding side to side.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even though this Bahama shutters DIY tutorial is decently straightforward, it’s common for people to have questions about them. A few of the top frequently asked questions include but are below. Aluminum Shutters by Osseous / CC BY 2.0
1. Will Bahama shutters keep the rain out?
These shutters come designed to protect windows and homes against bad weather, including rain. When you install them, put them at the top part of the window against the wall. Due to their hard qualities, shutters can easily withstand strong winds and flooding. Not only do they prevent rain from coming in, but they can reduce wear and tear from sunlight exposure.
2. Are Bahama shutters expensive?
The price will depend, and they can be either very cost-effective or expensive. Decide on what you want the finished product to look like and your budget. You won’t have an issue finding cheaper shutters, and the installation prices are lower on smaller homes too.
3. Will Bahama shutters increase your home’s value?
These shutters add value to your home, and they can make it much more appealing to buyers. They create a nice first impression, and they help with your home’s overall energy efficiency to help lower electricity costs.
Bahama shutters offer protection while making your home more energy efficient. They may not be for everyone, so consider whether or not they’ll help you. If you don’t live close to a beach or in a hurricane-prone area, they may not be for you. But, if you do, this bahama shutter DIY tutorial will help ensure that you get the protection you need without breaking your bank.