Tier on Tier Shutters vs. Full Height with Divider Rail

Yasmeen 9/13/2019 2:38:26 PM Shutter Styles
Shutters offer a few big advantages over blinds, shades, and curtains. Shutters offer better insulation and control over how much light enters the room. In addition, shutters can be divided to offer privacy in the lower part of your windows while allowing light to come in through the top.

Tier on tier shutters and Full height shutters with a divider rail  (mid-rail) are two popular options. Here we explore the pros and cons of each style, and why you might choose one over the other.

Tier on tier style shutters are split so the upper and lower panels open separately.

Full height shutters with a mid or divider rail allow the slats to move separately, but the panels are not split.

Tier on Tier Shutters


Tier on tier shutters essentially have two sets of panels, upper and lower, that operate independently from one another.

This allows you to keep the lower tier panels closed for privacy and keep the top tier panels open for full light-entry.

If you have furniture or maybe a kitchen faucet blocking the bottom of the window opening, this style still gives you freedom to operate the upper section of your shutters freely.

Alternately, you can keep the bottom tier panels open if you need access to your windowsill, or perhaps an air conditioning unit in the window, and keep the top tier closed as needed.

This style is also great for windows that face a busy street or directly point toward a neighbor’s house.

Need a little extra light for an art project, but don’t want the entire window exposed? Tier on tier style is ideal.


Tier on tier style is great for windows that are less than 60” X 60” give or take. For wider windows, gravity can work against the top tier panels.

Because our shutters are 100% solid, not hollow or composite, the shutter panels have a substantial weight, that can cause the top tier to sag over the bottom over time.

Additional adjustments can be required for tier on tier style shutters to keep the panels aligned properly, such as tightening or adjusting the hinges, and/or using hinge shims for proper alignment.

For the more experienced DIYer, this may be no problem, but if it is your first time installing shutters, tier on tier style can be more challenging.

Alternately, if the window is too small, too many panels can look a little clunky within a smaller opening. You generally want to allow at least 20” height for each tier of panels, and at least 10”-12” wide panels for an aesthetically pleasing look.

If you’re not sure whether your window size will accommodate tier on tier shutters, give us a call or send us an email. Our shutter experts can make their recommendation to help you decide.

For smaller windows, we may advise full height shutters. For larger windows, we may suggest full height shutters, or adding t-posts to split the window into more manageable sections, like this customer’s example below:

A vertical t-post at the center separates the panels to split up the weight and prevent long-term issues with your installation.

Horizontal t-posts are another option to add support to your tier on tier shutters. Ask for a CAD diagram of your shutters to ensure the design is exactly what you envision.

Tier on tier style is available in our best-selling ranges but is not currently available in our American or Express American ranges.

Full Height Shutters with a Mid-rail


Adding a mid-rail (also known as a divider rail) to your full height shutters allows you to operate the slats separately above and below the mid-rail.

This allows you to control the amount of light entering the room, as well as privacy. Keep the lower slats closed to block visibility into the home, and keep the upper slats open to still allow light entry.

Of course, you can also keep both sections of slats open for full light entry or closed for full privacy and light blockage. Our slats are designed to close flat in the upwards direction for maximum light blockage and privacy.

Besides using a mid-rail for function to separate the slats, you can also use a mid-rail for aesthetic purposes. Line it up to match an existing divide in your double hung windows, or to block an obstruction like a lock, handle, or alarm sensor. 

Full height shutters with a mid-rail offer many of the same benefits as tier on tier. They are easier to install, especially for larger windows.

Full height shutters are the easiest style to install. With full support of a 4-sided frame, the panels will stay aligned and closed with ease, versus other styles that may require additional adjustments. For any skill set, full height shutters are quite simple to install and operate.

For larger windows and patio doors, full height with a mid-rail will be more stable than tier on tier or café style shutters. A mid-rail adds support to a tall shutter to prevent warping or bowing.

You can even add more than one mid-rail for very tall windows and have separate control over 3 sections of slats. Mid-rails can also be added on solid panel shutters, to break up the design.

Full height shutters are available in all 8 of our product ranges, including our Express ranges manufactured in as little as 2 weeks.

Solid raised panel shutters with 2 mid-rails for a unique design element


There aren’t many cons to list here, as full height shutters are the most popular style for any size or type of window.

The main drawback is that your entire panel swings open as one unit from top to bottom. So, you can’t open the upper and lower sections of your panels separately the way you can with tier on tier style.

Depending on the slat size you choose, and the height of your window opening, your mid-rail might need to be adjusted slightly (up or down ½”). If there is a precise location you absolutely need to keep exact for your divide point, your tier on tier divide point can be customized down to the 1/16th of an inch.


A Split Decision

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to your custom shutters. Every window and project are unique, which is why our shutter experts are trained to advise on a case by case basis. But, with so many options, we hope to clarify the pros and cons of each, so you can make an informed decision. 

Visit our styles guide if you’re not sure where to start. Give us a call or email with any questions along the way. We are here to help!

Finding the perfect shutter style is as important to us as it is to you! Contact us with your project details and we will help you find the best option for your project. 



This post was brought to you by Yasmeen, one of The Shutter Store USA's experienced shutter consultants.  Contact our team today for advice on your shutters. We're here to help!