The shutter project

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If you’ve dug through the pages and archives here on NOH a bit, you know that our timber-frame farmhouse looks like this with tons of shutters:

But unless you’ve been to our house recently, what you don’t know is that those shutters on the front of the house are looking baaaaad. Some of the upper ones even looked ready to fall off. And that’s not a good thing when they’re about 60 feet off the ground!

When we bought the house about 4 years ago, all the shutters were still in good shape. And the majority of them still look very good. It’s just the side of the house which faces south (and the street) that gets the worst of the weather. On the east side of the house, the shutters are perfect and only need to be repainted to add our new stencil. And on the west side, they can probably go another year or two before they really need attention.

We’ve considered a lot of options for replacing the shutters over the past year or two (yes, this project has been on the to do list for a while). We’ve gotten numerous brochures and estimates about what it would cost to have someone professionally build the shutters for us, the cheapest of which would have been at least €2000 and we either would have needed to replace a bunch of others that are still in good shape (this side of the house gets the hardest beating from the weather) or potentially have mismatched shutters.

Our neighbor across the street who is a learned carpenter but not working due to injuries also offered to help us late last summer if we wanted to build the shutters ourselves. But we were still trying to get our lives back together after the accident and we just kinda ran out of time.

We knew we were capable of building them and that it would certainly be the cheapest alternative. But logistics were a problem, I couldn’t help Stefan load anything on the truck because of my broken ribs and so on. Regardless of what we decided, we’d still need to paint them ourselves since we painted half of them 2 years ago (which will also need to be replaced in the next couple of years) with a a very specific color and new stencil design. Apparently I never posted photos or even talked about that repainting project either…but I think that was during the pregnancy or maybe when Mackenzie was still quite new to us so I’ll blame pregnancy brain for that. Here’s what some of the updated shutters look like, though:

You can see we went with a more ornate scroll-like design instead of the flower-like thing that didn’t really even match anything on the house. The new stencil is the same color as the inside trim of the windows.

So the expense and time issue was a huge factor for us. This is the type of project Stefan and I used to knock out in a couple weekends (build the first one, then paint the second and mount the third). But that’s changed a bit since we added a child to the family. Although Mackenzie is great at entertaining herself most of the time, she is not a fan of power tools and often wants to cling to one of us while we use them…not exactly what we need while running the table saw or using the drill.

At any rate, Stefan’s parents came up a couple weeks ago and the men decided to use the time to do some work. Stefan had actually taken off two days, one of which I was spending with kiddy in Hof, which meant that they had a nice long time to buy everything and build the shutters. And Oma was babysitting which meant no worrying about Mack.

The first trick was getting the shutters off the front of the house through the window (since a ladder was out of the question) without falling out of the house or dropping anything on someone walking by.

And then we realized something that we’d never really noticed before: the shutters have an arch at the top. But we have no idea why because our windows are square (well, as square as they can be in a house that is almost 200 years old). Plus, there are pulls and locks on the windows, but unless the window boxes are unscrewed from the house, there is no way to actually close the shutters. We do close the ones on the sides of the house, especially during the summer when the sun scorches through them. But I’m not even sure that the front windows could actually have been closed with the way they were constructed.

So the first step was measuring and remeasuring the old shutters. Each of our windows inside is a slightly different size, especially from floor to floor. But since we won’t actually be trying to close these shutters, they don’t have to be precise.

Then there was the planning stage inside the home improvement store to figure out combination of wooden boards would work best too keep them from needing to cut any boards in half lengthwise.

Once they’d gotten everything home, it was time to cut everything up with the table saw. And that’s when they realized that the boards which said “about 240cm long” on the sticker were actually 238cm long. SO they couldn’t actually get two 120cm pieces out of each as planned. They cut up what had already been purchased and assembled as many shutters as they could. Then made another run to the store for more wood on the following day. And the leftover pieces of wood will become shutters for the guest house windows so the lovely yellow insulation no longer is apparent (which I’ve become so used to see that I don’t even notice anymore…)

The shutters are a very simple construction, with two smaller slats on the outside and wider slats inside. On the back are 4 horizontal slats, running perpendicular to the front slats. These give the shutter support and hold it all together via numerous screws. They are also where the hinges are mounted.

First the upper and lower slats are secured in place, mounted flush with the edges of the front boards.

Then holes were pre-drilled on the outermost slats to give the basic structure support and make it easier to zip through mounting all the inner boards.

I have to give the guys an extra round of thanks and respect because it was COLD outside on the days they decided to do this. At or below freezing, in fact. So for them to be out there playing with power tools and screwing things together was very dedicated. And the shutters already look fabulous.

A little over half of them already have their hardware installed and we’re hoping the rest of the hinges were delivered to Hagebau yesterday. We tried to pick them up last weekend but the delivery which was supposed to arrive never did. So we’ll try again tomorrow. Instead we picked up undercoat to help the wood last longer and get the paint to bond better, so hopefully we won’t need to touch these shutters again for 5-10 years.

And we’ve also got to go see about getting the paint matched for the shutters (and I thankfully already found the old buckets of paint that have the color codes on them) and get them painted and ready to go. Stefan is looking forward to using his airbrush again for this project. And I’ve got good news for him because he won’t be running out of things to paint anytime soon. We’ve eventually got to repaint every outside door around the farm to match this particular shade of green. A few of the doors are painted with it already, but others have a more emerald-like color…and some are in between. Apparently the previous owner was a fan of mixing his own paint, and as it often goes with paint, he didn’t always end up with the same color.

All in all, this shutter project cost about €250 for 10 LARGE shutters, which is a considerable savings over having someone else do them…and a whole lot faster!

Comments

  1. What a huge project! We’ve got to build new shutters for our house as well because the ones Peter made shortly after we moved in 10 years ago are falling apart due to weather. This is similar to the style we were thinking about doing, so it’s nice to see it in pictures. Thanks!

  2. What a lovely project! I wish my house had shutters, but it wouldn’t fit with our architectural style—I think…

    Thanks for showing us the how-to!

  3. Great choice making them yourself! They look great.

    • Thanks! It really wasn’t all that much effort and at least we can have them just how we want them. Not to mention it costs a fraction of the price!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] few weeks uh months ago now, I showed you some photos of the lovely new shutters that Stefan and his dad built for the front of our house. They nearly lost a few fingers in the [...]

  2. [...] and we have to say it looks pretty fantastic. Now all the doors match the shutters we repainted and the ones Stefan and his dad built in the freezing cold a little over a year [...]

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