How to Build Modern Wood Shutters

One of the many steps in our exterior remodel was replacing the shutters. We chose a dark green vinyl siding  and I wanted shutters that would look good with our brown roof and match our wood door as well. My goal was a modern style that would grab someone’s attention and add some interest to the front of the house. After searching high and low for inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram, I decided on a thin slat wood shutter, and got to work designing and building!

I love the overall look, but will admit that I was a bit hasty on the stain decision. I made them before the front door was installed and never compared stain colors, so I will be refinishing them this spring to match the door and address plaque. All in all, it was a relatively easy project (as long as you have the right equipment) and made a huge difference in the curb appeal of our home. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments from visitors and neighbors on their unique and modern look!

Our updated exterior with new shutters and siding- prior to replacing the door and painting gutters.

Want to build your own wood shutters?

You’ll need:

  • tape measure & pencil
  • miter or circular saw
  • dimensional lumber- we used 2 or 3″ x 1″ x 8′ boards (see note on step 3)
  • nail gun
  • wood glue
  • stain (one mixed with Poly is ideal)
  • square
  • sanding sponge

How to:

1 | Measure the height of your window from the top of the frame to the bottom of the frame.

2 | Determine the width you’d like for the shutter; on average, a window at least 30 inches wide will have a 15 inch shutter. Windows wider than 36 inches may have shutters up to 18-20″. The best way to determine the size you like is to use painter’s tape to tape out the size of the shutter next to the window.

3 | Calculate your lumber needs. We used two vertical 1″x8′ boards and 20 horizontal slats for each shutter and multiplied by 4 for all of our shutters, bringing us to 20 1″x8’s. (2023 edit: I *think* they were 2″ wide but I can’t remember, and we don’t live here anymore so I can’t check, sorry! Had I known this post was going to be one of the most popular on my website I would have edited better … oops)

4 | Measure and cut two vertical boards at the height of the window.

Josh measuring the length of board to cut

5 | Using your miter saw or circular saw, cut the horizontal slats- we went with a width of 16″.

All of the horizontal shorter boards cut and ready to install- 50 in total.
Measuring and cutting the boards.

6 | Lay out the short boards on top of the vertical boards to determine the spacing you’d like to achieve between each board. This will take some math! My shutters used 20 horizontal boards with a roughly 3/16″ gap between each one.

Boards laid out to determine the desired gap between them.

7 | Make a small circle of glue on either the short or long board. Lay the board on top of the vertical boards and use your square to straighten the board up to the vertical board.

Josh adding a glue circle to the top of the longer boards.
Squaring up the short boards to the long board.

8 | Using your nail gun, put two nails in each side of the short board. Josh got me started and then I finished up the rest of them!

Nailing the shorter boards.

9 | Repeat steps 7 and 8 but lay the board at the bottom of the longer boards to create a solid frame.

The "framed" shutter, ready for the rest of the boards to be installed.

10 | Install your next board at the desired distance from the board above it, repeating steps 7 and 8. It helps if you can find an object that is the width of the gap you want- I used a notebook! Repeat this until the entire shutter is complete!

Shutter completed

11 | Sand the visible sides of the shutter as smooth as possible using your sanding sponge.

12 | Stain every visible piece of wood- I used a foam craft brush and it worked great. I used a stain/poly mix and it worked great, although you could certainly stain and poly separately if the stain color you wanted wasn’t available as a mix. I don’t have any photos of this step, sorry!

13 | When all of your shutters are complete, it’s time to hang them! While I held them in place next to the window, Josh drilled a hole in the top two corners. He then put a 2″ construction screw through each hole and repeated the process in the bottom of the shutter.

Josh installing the shutters.
Our new modern wood shutters!

Although the color isn’t quite perfect next to our front door, I love our wood shutters and have gotten many compliments. They add a modern look while also adding some depth and interest to our exterior. We plan on adding window boxes this summer and had done some landscaping last summer so I can’t wait until everything grows back in!

Our updated exterior, complete with the new shutters. How to build modern wood shutters. DIY project!
Pinterest Image: How to Build Modern Wood Shutters

Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, soaking up the sun on our boat, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio!

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  • I noticed on your post about how to build shutter that you said you used “1’x8””. What’s the full dimensions? Was it a 1”x4”? 1”x 6”? 1×8”? Would like to know as I’d like to install these soon.

      • Ok. So still trying to get some clarity. You used 1” thick x 8’ long – what I don’t know is the WIDTH of the boards that you used. I got 3” wide (1”x3”x8’) pieces of wood. Can you elaborate on the width?

        • Last question – you’d also mentioned using 2” construction screws, however with two “1x” on top of each other would give you 1.5”, leaving you only .5” to push through the siding and still bite on to something for it to stay up. That doesn’t seem right. I would think at minimum 3” to do get enough bite beyond the siding. Can you confirm that’s what you used?

          • Hi Matt, I totally missed this question, so I’m sorry I’m just responding! Honestly I am not sure at this point- I didn’t take any notes on what we did outside of what I wrote here, and we don’t live in the house anymore so I can’t check for you. Use whatever you’re comfortable with- I don’t see any reason why it would be bad to go with a longer 3″ screw!

  • Do you have the color match formula from the top of your paint can? This is the exact color I’ve been looking for! And I love the shutters!!! You’ve just added another project to my list!

    • Hello! Are you referring to the house color? It is just vinyl siding so there is no paint color unfortunately! The color is Evergreen, brand Timbercrest from Menards. I had Sherwin Williams color match a sample of the siding so we could paint the block foundation. I no longer have that paint though since we moved! Sorry!!!

  • I really appreciate you for publishing this blog here about how to build modern wood shutters; it’s really a helpful and very useful for us. This is really appreciated that you have presented this data over here, I love all the information shared. Great article!

  • Hello! Your cedar shutters look beautiful!! My husband and I just put up board and baton cedar shutters that we made and it really gave our home such a “pop” and more curb appeal!! We also have a similar colour of siding-ours is “forest green” from Certainteed. I also now need a new front door and would like to go with wood instead of a steel or fiberglass one. What kind of door did you go with? It really looks beautiful. I hope you got your shutters back up, as they looked really good!!
    Thank you

    • Hi, thank you!! We never did end up putting back the shutters- haha! The front door is maple that we stained Ranch Oak (the same as our floors). We kind of custom-made the door by adding a new window 🙂 Good luck with your project!!

    • So I actually have since removed the shutters- I took them down to restain them and couldn’t get the color quite right and we’ve never put them back up (*face palm*) so no, no bee problems. ha!

    • Oh funny! I’ve seen many “fraternal twins” of our home… must’ve been a popular design in the 50’s! I honestly don’t know how much they cost, I didn’t keep track of the receipts, oops!!

  • Thanks 😊 you first upmost for taking good care ❤ 😊 of those precious 💖 babies. Your project gave me so many great ideas 💡 thanks you again

    • Good question- I actually don’t remember the color, I’m sorry! I used cedar boards and I want to say the stain color was a slightly darker walnut tone.

  • Hi, love the way these look and hoping to do some myself in the next week or so. I was just wondering how the stain has worked out in the sun(summer heat)? With such thin boards have they warped at all or changed in color/lost their stain, been damaged at all?

    • Hi Bree! Thanks for your comment- great question. I actually ended up taking them down to refinish them (to match the new door we put in) and ended up leaving them down. The boards weren’t that thin- they were about 3/4″ thick if I remember right. The front of our house is very shaded so they wouldn’t have been exposed to direct heat anyway. As for the finish, it depends on what you use to finish it- a good outdoor poly should ensure that you don’t have any issues with fading!