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Plastic Shutters Vs Vinyl Shutters – What’s the Difference?

Many people who wish to replace their outdoor shutters take a careful look at the shutters on their home and quickly learn they are made of plastic. The next step is to either go down to their local home improvement store or to use the Internet to search for “plastic shutters”. What many homeowners find is that the selection of plastic shutters is very limited, but there are other materials available including vinyl shutters, composite shutters, wood shutters, and fiberglass shutters. Some people at this point wonder “if the shutters I have now are plastic, why are there no plastic shutters available anymore?”

The truth be told, vinyl shutters are made from a type of plastic. So why are they called vinyl shutters and not plastic shutters? To understand the answer to this question, you will need to know a little history of the vinyl siding industry.

In the late 1950’s when plastics were in their infancy in the marketplace they were far from perfect. Plastic injection molded products were almost instantly considered an inferior product compared to metals, woods, or other construction materials. When plastics were first introduced as home building materials (namely exterior siding) a new marketing ploy had to be invented to fend off weary buyers of plastic products. So, the term “vinyl siding” was created to market the new product to homeowners and builders. This is not to say they were lying about what it was, they were just being more specific. After all, vinyl is a type of plastic.

Many of these same manufacturers soon realized there was also a market for plastic shutters. Naturally the term “vinyl shutters” was used to market these products, and to this day most vinyl shutters are manufactured by vinyl siding companies.

The technology behind plastic injection molding has come a long way since the 1950s. It is now almost inconceivable to buy a product without some type of plastic injection molding incorporated into it. In fact, plastic shutters will last longer and won’t require as much maintenance as wood shutters. As such, most people would probably not be afraid to buy “plastic shutters” today.

So why is it that we still call them vinyl shutters? Well, it is not that easy to change an entire industry. Plastic shutters may perhaps be called vinyl shutters indefinitely, even though the polymers that they are made of may not technically be considered “vinyl”.

While there are many materials available for exterior shutters, plastic has proven itself to be a long-lasting, low-maintenance, and low-cost material.