I am asked the same question everyday: What are the best vinyl shutters?
If that is your question read on because I will try to answer. To begin with that seems to me an odd question because vinyl shutters were never intended to be the highest precision shutters available but were brought into the marketplace to be a decorative product applied to houses with vinyl siding. They were intended to satisfy a low price point along with being maintenance free, light weight and easy to install and handle. So when I am ask this question I wonder what would make one brand over another be the best in your mind? I suppose you would assume that the thickest most rigid vinyl material would make the "best" shutters. Is that what your assumption would be?
Lets get one thing straight
if you are looking for the "best" high precision attention to detail in your shutters I would not be looking for vinyl shutters. High end wood and composite shutters will be much better quality wise than any vinyl shutters available. We should face the fact that no vinyl shutter brand is going to be a precision product that some high cost wood and composite shutters can be. I am not knocking vinyl shutters but trying to set your expectations to a realistic level. If you want affordable decorative and relatively inexpensive shutters to dress up your house and add color along with curb appeal then vinyl shutters could be just the product for you.
What all exterior vinyl shutters have in common
Every brand I know of shares these characteristics, they all have a fake wood grain texture to make them look more like a wood shutter. They are all also hollow shells that have the finished look of a shutter only on the front, the back is open. Of course when installed you can't see the back so who cares? The strength of a vinyl shutter comes from the ridges that are built into the back of the shutter and when engineered correctly will make the shutter sturdy enough for the purpose it was intended, a decoration on your house. Any brand of vinyl shutter will feel flimsy when pulled out of the box, the strength comes from your house. It is attached to your house with the included fasteners and when attached properly will be sturdy enough to last many years.
Now back to the reason you are reading this...
I know . . . you are reading this to find out which brand is the standout product. You want the thickest and most rigid vinyl shutter you can get but hold on a minute, that may not be the best longest lasting vinyl shutter. I hear it all the time - we ordered vinyl shutters and when we pulled them out of the box they feel cheap and flimsy. So they call up and say: I want the best vinyl shutters . . . you know, the ones that feel like my old ones that I am replacing. I have to ask - why are you replacing them if your old ones are so good, thick and strong? The answer they give is usually something like: Well my old one are faded, brittle and breaking... now, I wonder to myself, if they were so good thick and strong why would they be faded and falling apart? Well I have the answer: The old ones were not made out of good quality vinyl, a lot of the vinyl shutters from years past had fillers and calcium in the vinyl. The vinyl was made thicker because it was not good quality and had to be in order to last at all. The fillers that were added to the vinyl also made them more rigid but that did not make them better. When the sun beat on them for a short time they would get brittle and crumble if you handled them. I know - I have taken some of them down when installing new ones and the old shutter would just crumble and break in my hands.
Here is the difference...
Most of the newer vinyl shutters are made out of polypropylene. This is a much better vinyl than the old ones were, albeit they are usually thinner material now days. However I can assure you even though they are thinner they will last longer and give you better service than the old ones you are replacing from a few years back. One reason is they have better UV inhibitors mixed into the material along with the color that is through the material.
Don't be fooled...
by websites claiming "our shutters are thicker than everyone else", implying their shutter has to be better than yours. I see one website claim their vinyl shutter material is 3/16" thick. Well here is the truth: We sell several brands and the Perfect Shutters DuraPrene vinyl shutters is the same brand that they claim is 3/16" thick. It is a lie or at least a stretch of the truth. If you look at the back of that shutter you will see one of the ribs that is formed into a "U" and if you measure across it sure enough it measures 3/16". Well lets be honest, that does not make the material 3/16" thick, just standard thickness material in a "U". The truth is that all polypropylene vinyl shutters are of a similar thickness however that is not to say some may be slightly thicker or heavier than others. However this slight difference in material thickness is of little consequence in the scope of things. The important thing is the vinyl material quality and the warranty - Hopefully the manufacturer will be around if you ever need servicing. Choose Mid-America vinyl shutters and I have no doubt they will be. however all three of the brands we sell are considered name brand quality vinyl shutters so any of our brands should serve you well if vinyl is the correct choice for you. Happy shopping!