It’s exciting buying shutters. By changing one feature you can totally transform the look and feel of your home, making everything feel brand new again. But shutters, if they’re of high quality, are a significant investment.
As with any investment you make, for it to keep its value you can’t rush in. Over the years we’ve seen customers and competitors make many mistakes and we want you to avoid them. Here are 10 tips for choosing the right product and the right manufacturers so you end up with shutters that last for a lifetime.
1. Research the product
There are various woods and milling techniques used in the manufacture of shutters, with everything from solid wood that’ll last a lifetime to cheap planks that will splinter under stress. Naturally, better quality materials tend to cost more, so if prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.
Of course, it’s not expected that everyone who wants shutters in their home is a woodworking expert, so find a supplier with sufficient experience, product knowledge and patience who can explain the advantages and disadvantages of the various materials used in shutter construction. Get a feel for the materials in their samples and visit a showroom where you can test the finished product. This way you’ll avoid costly mistakes down the line.
2. Research the design
Shutters are simple to use but complex to build. There are various design choices available in shutter construction such as visible or hidden control rods, a wide range of louvre sizes, full height shutters, café shutters, how the panels open and as many frame design and colour combinations as you can imagine.
Much of the information on the range of design options can be found in the next section of the guide but nothing beats getting some hands on experience with the shutters you want, so find a showroom you can visit to see what strikes your fancy. Most interior shutter companies quote a price based on the square metre of the total installation regardless of style, the price varying with the product and materials used. Therefore, you should make sure any options suggested are for your benefit and only place your order after you’ve had a good explanation for the design used.
3. Ask for references/testimonials
Many homeowners base their choices on recommendations from a neighbour, relative or friend. There’s a chance they’ll set you up with a fantastic shutter provider, but you shouldn’t base your decision on just one satisfied customer.
There may be many others who have had a far less positive experience with the company and even the worst companies can please a few customers. Designing and fitting shutters well is a complex task which can leave a terrible mess in your home should something go wrong, so seek out companies with a proven track record of recent satisfied customers.
Such a company will be more than happy to provide you with details of their prior clients, so find a handful you can speak to or even visit to get a complete picture of the experience and product the company can provide. Ask tough questions about the shutter quality, workmanship, communication and politeness of staff, disagreement resolutions and the cleanliness and care during and after installation.
4. Use accredited companies
Companies belonging to recognised trade associations will usually be the more reliable choice as there is an additional level of accountability and quality control. You can and should of course check with the association to ensure their membership is current, or at least have sight of their membership certificate.
Also, many county council Trading Standards Departments are now running “Buy with Confidence” schemes. Trading Standards officers are particularly thorough when investigating companies they are to endorse, requiring continued proof of a high standard of work and monitoring performance with ongoing checks of all aspects of service, guarantees and the integrity of all members of staff.
5. Also use experienced companies
Shutters may now be taking the country by storm, but they’re still a relatively new product in the United Kingdom. Until recently, people were unaware just how attractive, versatile and convenient they could be; just 7 or 8 years ago you would have been hard pressed to find more than a couple of companies offering shutters. Today you could find dozens. Thanks to the popularity of shutters in contemporary interior design, there are many companies eager to start providing them, but despite their enthusiasm, they have relatively little or no experience. They will gain it in time but inevitably that will be at someone’s cost. Better that somebody isn’t you.
6. Be patient in the busy season
Many home service industries are seasonal. During peaks in demand, the best companies start growing a queue of clients which can take some time to get through. But don’t stop waiting for a reputable company because a lesser known alternative is offering a survey quicker. Ask yourself, “If I were in an unfamiliar town on a Friday night, would I eat in an empty restaurant that could serve me right away, or would I wait to eat at a restaurant that was bustling with customers?”
Patience is a virtue and in this case it’s a virtue that can save you from the hassle, costs and mess of bringing an inexperienced or poor quality shutter company into your home.
7. Compare quotes
Some shutter companies win customers with quality products, efficient workmanship and honest guarantees. Others aim to convince on price alone, using low quality materials to drive down the bottom line. There’s even unscrupulous companies who will use these same materials but still charge you top price, using a slick salesman to make the sale.
An honest company will provide you with a detailed proposal of the work and explain the products, wood and manufacturing techniques you will receive and shy away from the use of inferior shutters. So, when comparing quotations, it is far more important to compare products and design specifications rather than pricing alone.
8. Clarify those quotes
Carefully check every aspect of your quote, making sure all requirements are clearly itemised and pay special attention to the manner and direction in which your shutter panels open and fold. All of this should, of course, have been fully explained to you during your design survey. If they were not, perhaps you would be wise to get another quote from a company that will be bothered to explain. In any case, if you are unsure, you will need to clarify the points in question. This will not be a problem to them if you have made the right choice of company.
Remember that even though you may have been quoted between 8 – 12 weeks before your installation, as a bespoke product, once production of your shutters has commenced, it is too late to change anything. Ensure that the price agreed covers everything you expect and that no extras will be added after the sale is committed.
9. Liability insurance
As with any company you employ to carry out work in your home, make sure they carry adequate insurance to cover any damages or injuries to your family or their employees should an incident arise. In the absence of adequate cover, there is a chance that a claim could be made against you should an employee of the company suffer loss or injury within your home. Companies that are a member of trade associations with industry and government backed accreditations should have liability insurance as standard.
Once your shutters are installed, you’ll want the peace of mind that should anything go wrong you won’t have to pay out of your own pocket. Make sure the manufacturer’s warranty covers everything
you require it to, for as long as you need it to. Guarantees vary depending on the material used to manufacture your shutters and reputable companies will also cover the installation. After your shutter installation, be sure to get your guarantee in writing and put it somewhere safe.
Follow these 10 top tips and your interior shutters will give a wonderful sensory experience every time you walk in your room instead of years of regret.