How to Build Interior Window Shutters.

If you’re here, you’re interested in interior window shutters.  I don’t blame you one bit. They look good in traditional,  contemporary or heritage homes and best of all you can custom build interior wood shutters yourself. No, really you can.  I did.  Here’s how.

White shaker style DIY interior shutters in heritage home.

My neighbours have interior shutters in their historical home and I’ve always loved them.  So I stole the idea.

Some of my best ideas are stolen. The same goes for my jewellery.  Don’t worry about stealing ideas, everyone does it.  The one thing you should pay attention to is making the idea work for you and your circumstances.  Adapt it, change it and make it your own.

I get SO many emails about the plans and measurements of DIY Restoration Hardware sectional and my chicken coop. But I built both of these things to specifically work in my space. You do you!

For the shutters I  wasn’t worried so much about light control, this house is dark on the sunniest days, but if you need something to totally block out light, nothing is going to do it as well as solid wood. Suck on that black out curtains.

I knew my neighbours’ interior shutters wouldn’t work for me because I didn’t have space on either side of my windows for opening them up.  They have 2 shutters on each window that open up just like cupboard doors, laying flat on the walls on either side of the window.  That wasn’t an option for me because I have too much stuff on either side of my windows to swing open a 15″ shutter on either side of them. There would be nowhere for the shutters to go.


How do interior shutters work?

Like a regular, old shutter.  They’re mounted on hinges to your interior window frame. They swing open and closed just like a cupboard door or shutter.

If the shutters are painted the same colour as your walls they disappear both when they’re open or closed.

More so than any other window treatment, inside shutters will give you complete privacy when they’re closed and also keep the heat of the day out which means a cooler house in the summer.


After a good 2 years of thinking about them on and off I configured a way I could make wood shutters work in my house. 

These are classic interior shutters like you’d find in an old English home, they are not plantation shutters.


Hinged Interior Shutters

Diagram showing measurements of DIY interior window shutters.

 

 

MATERIALS

1/4″ birch plywood sheets (good on both sides)

1/4″ flat, square edged trim (poplar)

Non Mortise Lid Hinges and screws

1″ narrow hinges and screws (4- 6 hinges total per window)

Wood glue

Tape Measure

Clamps

Iron on Edge Banding

File

Sandpaper/Palm Sander

Drill and bits

Mitre Saw

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Measure the width and height of the interior of your window.  Plan to make each of your shutters 1/8″ smaller than the opening.

TIP – Take the window measurements from a few different places.  If they’re different it means your windows aren’t square.  If that’s the case, use the smallest of your measurements.

Karen Bertelsen cutting wood to length on outdoor porch for interior shutters.

I bought 5′ x 5′ birch plywood sheets and had the widths of my shutters cut at the lumberyard.  They can do a MUCH more accurate job on their table saw with these long panels of wood than I can when cutting them lengthwise.  I just gave them the measurements of all my shutter widths and had them cut my plywood panels into strips.  Once I got them home I just had to worry about cutting them to the right height with my mitre saw.

(The lumberyard cut my 5′ sheets into strips that were the widths I needed for shutters, then when I got the strips home, I cut them to the right length)

Illustration of how to cut interior shutter trim.

2.  Once all your panels are cut to size you can cut your trim to match.  This is an easy job with a mitre saw.  The trim then gets glued into place with wood glue.

TIP – Use an old credit or gift card to spread the glue.

Spreading glue on wood trim with old credit card.

 

3.  You need to put trim on both the front and backs of the plywood so the final thickness of your edges will be 3/4″.  This is what you need for the hinges.  Plus if you only put trim on one side, the shutters would be unfinished on the other side which is more offensive than dusty rose curtains.

 

Illustration showing cross view of DIY indoor shutters.

 

*** If you can’t buy trim that’s long enough for your shutters you may have to piece some together to make a long enough piece.  That’s what I did (by cutting the edges of the trim on a 45 degree angle and sliding them together).  Like this.  It’s more discreet than butting the 90 degree ends of the wood together.

How to cut an invisible 45 degree joint to join wood seamlessly.

Placing 3" wood trim on birch plywood for interior shutters.

 

4.  Clamp your trim as soon as you get it placed.

Red clamps scattered around partially made interior shutters.

TIP – Double check that your edges are still lined up after clamping. Clamps can pull the wood off kilter.

4. Once your edge trim is applied you can lay your hinges to what will be the backside (visible from the outside of your house) of your shutters.  Pre-drill your holes.

Partially made birch plywood interior shutters laying on pine floor.

TIP – I started out using brass hinges but abandoned them because brass screws are SO soft.  Even with pre-drilling my holes I was stripping the screw heads. Use stainless or zinc hinges.

5. Screw the hinges in, making sure the wood is butted up together evenly.

Screwing small brass hinges into interior shutters.

TIP – Technically you could use only 2 hinges on each shutter, but the additional hinge in the middle helps keep the flimsy 1/4″ plywood from warping.

6. Even the shortest screws will come out the back of a 1/4″ piece of plywood.  File the tips that protrude through with a metal file.  It will just take a few zips with the file.

Filing off screw tips with metal file.

 

7. Because you’ve added trim on top of plywood the edges of your shutters are going to be hideous. Ugly little things.  Cover them up with iron on banding (which is made especially for this purpose).

Ironing on edge banding.

TIP – Don’t forget to run a block of wood with a sharp edge down your edge banding after you iron it to help everything stick well.

Please notice the scar on my hand from accidentally chopping my hand instead of a piece of kindling with an axe.

Rolling edge banding with block of wood.

TIP – You’ll still have to trim the banding. I use an X-Acto knife for this.  After trimming it, run your file down the edges to dull and flatten them even more.

 

8. Hang your shutters!

Hanging interior shutters.

TIP – Not sure how to properly hang shutters?  Read this.

9. Check to make sure the shutters open and close smoothly.  Adjust your hinges if necessary.

Opening unfinished interior hinged shutters.

 

10. Now you can finish your trim.  I didn’t want to be able to see the seam down the centre of these shutters so I’m covering them up with a piece of trim. It runs directly centred over the seam but is only glued on ONE shutter.  This way it covers the seam but you can still bend the hinges.    Also measure and cut your last pieces of trim for the tops and bottoms of the shutters.

Measuring for trim on interior shutters.

 

11. Glue and clamp all your final trim.

Clamping glued trim onto hanging interior shutters.

 

12. Sand off any areas where the trim isn’t perfectly flush.  I had to do this on a couple of spots where I joined the wood.

Sanding interior wood shutters with palm sander.

 

13.  Now paint ’em.  I painted my shutters with my Wagner sprayer because you get such a smooth, fine coat of paint.

Clean looking shaker style interior shutters in elegant historic home.

You can see how I painted my shed in less time than it takes to make a batch of cookies here.

Black painted shed in slate backyard.

You could also use a microfibre roller for your shutters.

Just make sure to prime the shutters first, sand them after priming and then give them 2-3 coats of paint.

You’re done!  I know it seems like a lot of steps and work but it’s all fairly straight forward. Time consuming?  Yes.  Terribly complicated?  No.

 

How much do interior shutters cost?

To buy custom wood shutters for inside your home would cost thousands of dollars.

For this DIY version, each window treatment cost approximately $125.  I built 5 of them for a total of $626.   This cost includes all the plywood, trim, hinges, screws, edge banding, glue etcetera. It does not include the cost of paint. The cost will vary a bit depending on the size of your window.

 

How to Build Interior Window Shutters.

How to Build Interior Window Shutters.

Yield: 1 set of shutters.
Additional Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days

Interior wood shutters that look good in new construction homes, but especially good in heritage homes.

Materials

  • 1/4″ birch plywood sheets (good on both sides)
  • 1/4″ flat, square edged trim (poplar)
  • Non Mortise Lid Hinges and screws
  • 1″ narrow hinges and screws (4- 6 hinges total per window)
  • Wood glue
  • Tape Measure
  • Clamps
  • Iron on Edge Banding
  • File
  • Sandpaper

Tools

  • Palm Sander
  • Drill
  • Mitre Saw

Instructions

  1. Measure the width and height of the interior of your window.  Plan to make each of your shutters 1/8″ smaller than the opening.
  2. Have your birch plywood cut to the proper widths at the lumberyard you bought it from. (because of their size it's just a good idea). Once you get them home you can cut them to length with a standard miter saw.
  3. Once all your panels are cut to size you can cut your trim to match.  This is an easy job with a mitre saw.  The trim then gets glued into place with wood glue.
  4. You need to put trim on both the front and backs of the plywood so the final thickness of your edges will be 3/4″.  This is what you need for the hinges.  Plus if you only put trim on one side, the shutters would be unfinished on the other side which is more offensive than dusty rose curtains.
  5. Clamp your trim as soon as you get it placed.
  6. Once your edge trim is applied you can lay your hinges to what will be the backside (visible from the outside of your house) of your shutters.  Pre-drill your holes.
  7. Screw the hinges in, making sure the wood is butted up together evenly.
  8. Even the shortest screws will come out the back of a 1/4″ piece of plywood.  File the tips that protrude through with a metal file.  It will just take a few zips with the file.
  9. Because you’ve added trim on top of plywood the edges of your shutters are going to be hideous. Ugly little things.  Cover them up with iron on banding (which is made especially for this purpose).
  10. Hang your shutters!
  11. Now you can finish your trim.  I didn’t want to be able to see the seam down the centre of these shutters so I’m covering them up with a piece of trim. It runs directly centred over the seam but is only glued on ONE shutter.  This way it covers the seam but you can still bend the hinges.    Also measure and cut your last pieces of trim for the tops and bottoms of the shutters.
  12. Glue and clamp all your final trim.
  13. Sand off any areas where the trim isn’t perfectly flush.  I had to do this on a couple of spots where I joined the wood.
  14. Now paint ’em.  I painted my shutters with my Wagner sprayer because you get such a smooth, fine coat of paint.
  15. You’re done!

Notes

TIP – Take the window measurements from a few different places.  If they’re different it means your windows aren’t square.  If that’s the case, use the smallest of your measurements.


TIP – Use an old credit or gift card to spread the glue.

TIP - If your trim isn't long enough stick 2 pieces together using an invisible 45 degree joint.

TIP – Double check that your edges are still lined up after clamping. Clamps can pull the wood off kilter.

TIP – I started out using brass hinges but abandoned them because brass screws are SO soft.  Even with pre-drilling my holes I was stripping the screw heads. Use stainless or zinc hinges.

TIP – Don’t forget to run a block of wood with a sharp edge down your edge banding after you iron it to help everything stick well.

Here, this guide will help make it seem less terrifying.

QUICK GUIDE

  1. Cut shutters and trim to size.
  2. Attach trim with glue around edges of shutters.
  3. Add hinges.
  4. Hang shutters.
  5. Glue remaining trim.
  6. Paint.

See?  Seems so much easier that way.

 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Do these look homemade?  Nope. At least I don’t think so, lol.

Can I have curtains too?  You don’t really need them, but sure you can have curtains too.  I’d make sure they’re very plain though with no pattern otherwise it might just look like a jumbled, busy mess.  I’m actually considering adding black velvet curtains for the winter months.

I’ve been living with these for a few  years now and they still work perfectly and I still LOVE them. They’re simple, elegant and discrete. Because of that I’ve decided I’ll eventually be doing them for the entire house.

If you’ve been trying to come up with the perfect window treatment and you’re liking this, feel free to steal the idea. I’m perfectly happy with you doing that.  And I just checked – my neighbour is too.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of mysel

How to Build Interior Window Shutters.