There are two types of lumber: softwoods, which are usually conifers like pine, spruce and cedar, and hardwoods, which come from flowering trees like teak, maple and walnut. Softwoods, as the name suggests, are easily marked and dented, therefore not suitable for shutters. Hardwoods, however, are solid, stable, and perfect for quality timber shutters and other fine furniture pieces. Because hardwood is slow growing, it is more expensive.
The most common hardwoods used for shutters are Poplar, Basswood, and Paulownia.
Poplar is a dense hardwood yet is easy to work with, pale in colour, and has a nondescript timber grain. It is ideal for painted shutters.
Image: Highprofile Classic poplar painted shutter
Basswood has a beautiful, fine, even grain and absorbs pigment well, making it the best for stained shutters.
Image: Highprofile Classic basswood stained shutter
Paulownia, native to China, is very light and offers the highest strengths to weight ratios among all types of timber and non-timber shutters. It is extremely fast-growing, and is readily available across Asia, making it the most economical choice for painted shutters.
Image: Highprofile Classic paulownia painted shutter
If you’re interested in learning about different timbers, The Wood Database is a great resource for timber facts!
From Log to Blade
Making a quality timber shutter is a multi-stepped and laborious process. It takes an average of 5 person-hours from tree to truck to produce a single panel.
The process begins when trees are harvested, cut into boards, and then graded depending on the number of knots and defects. The lumber is then carefully kiln-dried to ensure it won’t crack, bleed or warp, bringing it to its peak structural integrity. Next, the boards are moulded into lengths of specific shapes like elliptical blades or frames. And finally, the lengths are sealed, sanded and painted to prevent moisture from getting in or out and to achieve the colour and texture finish required. In some applications, sanding and painting are repeated up to 7 times to attain the desired finish.
What is Engineered Lumber?
To keep costs down and improve a shutter’s structural integrity, painted (not stained) shutters often use engineered lumber.
Laminating and finger-jointing, often used together, are two engineering techniques used to prevent warping and build strength. With laminating, the lumber may be cut into long strips, flipped and then glued back together. With finger jointing, smaller pieces of timber are glued together in a saw-tooth join. These techniques protect the timber’s integrity and reduce cost because smaller pieces allow for more of the board to be used.
Particleboard or chipboard is another popular engineered timber. It is made by gluing together timber chips and sawdust to re-create a piece of lumber. It is heavy, unstable, and prone to expansion, especially when exposed to moisture. It is, however, very cheap to produce.
Another way manufacturers reduce costs is to use laminated veneers, which means a thin premium timber skin is glued over a cheaper timber or particleboard. Despite the veneer, it is only as good as its cheaper sub-layer.
Timber as a living organic material has its challenges being susceptible to natural defects and changes, but that is what creates the warmth and appeal of natural timber products in our home.
Learn more about our Highprofile Classic range of timber shutters, made from Poplar, Paulownia and Basswood.