Installing DIY plantation shutters is easy as 1,2,3, especially when using one of our provided frames to mount the shutter panels. Once your frame is mounted to the window opening, you drop in the hinge pin to connect the pre-installed hinges from the shutter panels to the frame. But there are some instances where you may not want or be able to use a frame. In these instances, we are happy to offer a frameless “panels only” option.
Why a Frame is Recommended
As we touched on above, frames make your shutters easier to install, and they also support the weight of the shutter panels. Our shutters are made of 100% solid polyvinyl or 100% solid hardwood and the frame helps to keep the panels supported and aligned.
Most windows are not perfectly square or level and having a perfect square shutter frame ensures that your panels will line up properly and catch to the metal washers on the top and bottom frame pieces to keep the panels held in place when closed.
Our hinges have a center locking screw that you can loosen to adjust the hinges slightly up or down for proper panel alignment but using a frame will minimize the amount of adjustments necessary during installation.
If you are using the shutters for maximum light blockage, a frame will help you ensure there is no gap between the shutter panels (which can result from improper panel alignment if not mounted to a frame). There is also less light coming through the perimeter of the window when you use a frame, as our frames have a light stopping lip at the back that slightly overlaps the back of the shutter panel to eliminate light seepage.
When to Use Panels Only
Windows that tilt-in for cleaning can be blocked by an inside mounted shutter frame. If your windows are not accessible from the outside or you do not want to lose the tilt-in option, you can choose an outside mount frame, or panels-only to avoid blocking the tilt-in function.
Andersen type windows, those with crank handles and locks that raise and lower as a lever, can also have the cranks and locks impeded by an inside mount frame, depending on the recess depth of the window opening. Again, an outside mount frame is an option for these windows. Some customers prefer not to do an outside mount, perhaps due to an existing ornate or historic trim work around the window opening. A panels-only installation can work here, as it allows the panels to fully open without a frame interfering with the handle or locks, as long as there is enough depth available to mount the hinges directly to your window casing.
Some windows, most often sidelight windows, are too narrow to manufacture a frame and shutter panel to fit within the inside recess of the window opening. For windows around 10” to 12”, a frameless plantation shutter may be the best option to maximize the width of the shutter panel itself. An outside mount frame would also resolve this issue, though some sidelights have limited space for mounting a frame between the sidelight and the front door.
Special projects like barn door shutters or utilizing the shutter panels for Bahama style shutters or sliding bypass track systems can be accomplished by ordering panels-only. These are not installation types that our experts can recommend or advise on as the hardware and mounting systems are purchased independently by our customers, but our handiest customers have completed creative and stunning installations this way.
How to Measure
Measuring for a panels-only installation is simple and follows the same steps as listed in our inside mount measuring guide.
Measure at least 3 spots for width and height to check for variance (measuring in more spots is okay and is recommended given that a frameless installation will be more challenging if there is substantial variance in the measurements within each window.
Be sure to provide us the exact, smallest inside dimension of the window opening, but do not round down or deduct any allowances.
Our factory will make a recommendation on a hinge allowance to account for the thickness of the shutter hinges based on your window size and depending on what material you have ordered and the number of panels covering that window.
What to Expect
Our shutter experts will always call to review and confirm the details of every order prior to production. They will always make you aware that extra adjustments may be required when installing shutters without a frame. This is because you will need to ensure that the hinges have a level surface for mounting.
This means you may have to sand or shim between the hinges and the window casing to create a level surface for mounting your hinges. Or you may need to use hinge shims between the hinge and shutter panel to help with the panel alignment.
If you have more than one panel per window opening, the panels on the right are designed with a lip to overlap the left panel where they meet in the middle to block light in between the panels. To prevent these panels from scraping one another where they meet, there is a ¼" gap allowed for in between the left and right panels to be hidden by that astragal lip.
If your provided measurements were not precise, or the window has variance that was not accounted for when measuring, you may end up with a gap between the panels if not properly shimmed and leveled during installation.
Because the panels will not have a frame to rest in and catch the magnets, an additional block with metal washers attached or metal L-plate will be provided for you to install behind the shutter panels.
Tips for Installing
Take a look at our step by step video pertaining to panels-only (frameless) installation.
Your shutter panels will have one side of the hinge pre-installed, and it will be up to you to mark the hinge location and line up the matching hinge side to your window casing.
Follow our maintenance video that instructs on adjusting the hinges on your shutters for the perfect fit.
Hinge shims are provided in your hardware kit to help nudge a panel that may be sagging or crooked due to variance within the window opening.
While shutter frames offer many benefits, there are special scenarios like those detailed above where a frameless plantation shutter will be a great option. Keeping in mind the extra care needed when measuring and installing will help you ensure a proper fit and successful installation.
Frameless plantation shutters are offered in most styles by selecting “panel only” in the frame selection step on the ordering page. Tier on tier style is not currently available to order without a frame as it is not advisable to install this style without the support of a 4-sided frame. As with any questions or special requests, reach out to our friendly shutter experts today for help in selecting the best option for your window!
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 opting for frameless plantation shutters. 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!