Brick Row Houses DC-Window shutters on an old brick home Renaissance Development DC

Are Window Shutters an Authentic Victorian Feature on Old Brick Homes?

Feb 16, 2023 8:45:00 AM Christina Wilson

Victorian-style homes are known for their elegant, timeless beauty, and window shutters can play a significant role in creating that classic look. However, shutters were not original to every Victorian home, particularly in urban row houses. The year in which your home was built and the neighborhood where the home is located are both important factors when making decisions regarding shutters, such as what style to choose, or even whether to have them at all. Selected wisely, they provide character and additional curb appeal - though the question remains whether window shutters are an authentic Victorian feature on brick homes.

Did Victorian Brick Homes Have Shutters?

Window shutters were a common feature of Victorian old brick homes, as they offered a practical solution to controlling light and airflow in the home. Shutters were usually made of wood and could be either fixed or operable, allowing residents to control the amount of sunlight and air that could enter their home.

In the case of urban row houses, window shutters served a secondary purpose: security. With so many homes built in close proximity, shutters helped to deter intruders and provided an extra layer of protection for the residents.

That said, are window shutters on brick Victorian homes authentic today? The answer may be a bit more complex. It can be difficult for a homeowner to determine if their shutters are authentic, especially after years of exposure to the elements. Consulting a historic home expert can be helpful in identifying the authenticity and determining the appropriate shutter style for your home.

What to Consider if You Want Shutters on Your Victorian Brick House

The first, and possibly most crucial step to take, is to do some research into your home's history to determine if it originally had window shutters. If it did, it's important to find out what the original shutters looked like and try to match them as closely as possible. 

For homes that did not originally have shutters, it's still possible to add them, but it's important to choose a style and design appropriate to the original time period in which your home was built, and a style that will integrate well with the other houses in the neighborhood. Otherwise, you’ll end up with window shutters that will look out of place.

Common types of Victorian Window Shutters 

Louvered Shutters: Louvered shutters are among the most popular styles of Victorian shutters. They are characterized by their horizontal slats, which can be adjusted to control the amount of light and air entering the home.

Board and Batten Shutters: Board and batten shutters are another classic Victorian-style shutter. They are made from a series of narrow boards joined with vertical battens. These kinds of shutters are not functional - they are typically intended for decorative purposes only.

Raised Panel Shutters: Raised panel shutters feature a raised panel in the center of each shutter, surrounded by a narrow frame. They are usually for decorative purposes.

Shutters can be a combination of styles and still be authentic. Bringing in a historic brick expert creates a more streamlined selection process, as your expert advisor will likely have access to historically accurate reproductions, and perhaps even to the original types of shutters.

Have A Professional Inspection Before Mounting Shutters on Historic Brick

Mounting shutters to historic brick can be a delicate process, so it is crucial to choose a method that will not damage the brick or mortar. A historic brick expert can inspect the condition of your old brick and address any concerns regarding the structural integrity of the building. If repairs are necessary, the expert will advise you on tuckpointing and the necessity to use lime-based mortar instead of modern materials, which could cause more damage to the brick. 

Once you have the all-clear, the best way to affix shutters to historic brick is by mounting them directly to the brick itself. This will not damage the brick, as long as the hardware specifically designed for brick (such as masonry anchors), is utilized properly. Having it done professionally will ensure that the shutters are mounted securely. Thus, with some careful planning and attention to detail, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of shutters on the windows of your historic brick home for many years to come.

Renaissance Development, a leader in brick restoration and historic preservation, specializes in the restoration of a historic brick building’s mortar joints using traditional methods (tuckpointing) and materials. Contact us for a free site visit and project quote.

Categories: Curb appeal, Research your old home, architectural styles, old brick, Window Shutters, Shutters, Authentic Victorian features

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