Our last blog post explored in detail the vertical rails on a shutter panel, called stiles. Now, let’s take a look at the solid top and bottom rails, and the optional mid-rail. What are the specs on these, how do they reinforce structural integrity, and why is it important when designing your shutters?
The rails are the solid, non-movable parts of a shutter panel
Top and Bottom Rails
Plantation shutters are known for their movable slats, also called louvers, that rotate open and closed to control how much light enters the room.
Holding each shutter panel together are the left and right vertical stiles, and the solid top and bottom rails.
Top and bottom rail sizes are at the factory’s discretion, determined by the height of the panel and adjusted to accommodate your chosen slat size. These rails will generally range between 3” to 5”. Smaller rails would reduce the stability and overall structural integrity of the shutter, therefore we do not advise requesting any deviation from the factory’s recommended rail sizes.
This matters when designing your shutters because it will tell you where your first moving slats will begin – an important factor in determining how much recess depth you have for the slats to operate and how large of a slat size you can choose.
For example, the solid bottom rail may cover up a crank handle or other obstruction that otherwise would have impacted the slats from fully rotating.
Keeping in mind there is always a solid top and bottom rail, you may want to opt for a smaller slat size on a very short window to allow for more slats to fit into the panel.
For example, an 18” tall shutter with a 3” top and bottom rail, leaves about 12” of space for slats, so this panel could potentially have anywhere from 3 – 6 moving slats depending upon what slat size you choose.
You can always request a CAD diagram to view the exact rail sizes and number of slats in each panel prior to production.
When ordering tier on tier style, make sure your window is tall enough that the solid material does not overpower and block much of the window where the 2 tiers meet.
Mid-rails are horizontal solid rails that separate the upper and lower sections of a shutter panel so that the slats can move independently above and below the mid-rail.
This gives you flexible control over light and privacy and takes up about half the solid space on a full height shutter compared to the solid material in between a top and bottom tier of a tier-on-tier style shutter.
Full Height Shutters >>
Tier on Tier Shutters >>
You can provide us with your custom mid-rail height measured from the bottom of the shutter up to the center of the desired mid-rail location. While mid-rails are strictly optional on windows under 70” tall, taller windows above 70” height will require a mid-rail for added stability and structural integrity.
It is up to you where to place the mid-rail – perhaps at the exact center of the window, or 2/3 of the way up to give you privacy at the bottom and let in light at the top. If there is a natural divide or obstruction in the window you want to cover, you can line up the mid-rail with that.
Exact mid-rail locations may get slightly adjusted by the factory to accommodate the height of your window divided by your chosen slat size, always keeping structural integrity as well as aesthetically balanced rail sizes in mind.
Shutter Parts Glossary >>
Product Specs Sheet >>
As mentioned above, you can always request a factory drawing of your final shutter design to review and approve prior to production. This will show your exact rail sizes, the exact mid-rail location, and exact number of slats in each panel. We always want to be sure nothing is left to chance, and all expectations are met prior to placing your order into production. Reach out to our shutter experts today with any questions!
This post was brought to you by Yasmeen, one of The Shutter Store USA's experienced shutter consultants. Get in touch today for more advice on choosing rails for your shutters . If you're still unsure and have any questions, our friendly team of shutter experts are a call, chat or email away! Upload a picture of your window with your order or send it in to our support team for help designing your perfect shutters. We are here to help!