Try This: Build Your Own Interior Shutters

Try interior shutters instead of draperies to add to the R-value and to the character of your home.

| January/February 2004

Make me shutter 

Try interior shutters instead of draperies to add to the r-value and to the character of your home.

Windows open up your house to the outdoors—but not just visually. They are the weak link in your home’s insulation from the elements. Compared with the standard R-13 in wall insulation, single-pane windows have an R-value of less than 1. Even double-pane low-E glass windows with argon gas—the current state-of-the-art—boast an R-value of only 4.75.

Long used to shield windows from the harsh elements on the outside, shutters can take on a new role inside. In addition to increasing privacy and adding charm to interior decor, these Old World-inspired shutters more than double the insulation value of even the very best windows. Ours are simple pieces of framed rigid foam insulation, trimmed with wood, painted, and then stamped with earth-friendly, eye-catching clay paints.

We used a rigid foam roof insulation called R-board for our shutters. Depending on the thickness, it's rated R-6 or R-9. These shutters are light enough to hang directly on your window frame using traditional shutter hinges. For added insulation and draft-fighting value, use weather stripping on the frame.

1. Measure your window frame opening carefully. Remember, the shutters will be framed in wood trim, so include the thickness of the trim when calculating the size of the foam board. Measure, score and cut the fibrous paper facing on both sides of the foam board with a utility knife. Then the board can be snapped cleanly with a good karate chop. Be sure to protect your hands with gloves.

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