Tongue and Groove or Rail and Style for Shutters

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Forum topic by BigMig posted 08-17-2015 03:26 PM 1636 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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440 posts in 2641 days

08-17-2015 03:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tongue and groove rail and stile azek cedar shutter douglas fir

Hey Gang,
My next project is to replace the exterior shutters on my house. They are raised-panel-type and I’m wondering: is a conventional rail-and style router bit set going to give me a stronger joint than a tongue and groove joint that I could make on the table saw?

As far as materials go, I know that cedar is the traditional (and preferred) material, but are there advantages to manufactured materials – maybe like AZEK? Or something else? One of the fellows at the lumber yard said Douglas fir could be a good choice – but I’d likely have a fair amount of waste due to knots. I think the existing (many decades old) shutters are from doug. fir.

We will want to be able to paint them dark green – so paint-ability is important in the material selection. Also, we don’t plan to move soon…so we want them to be durable and last.

Thanks in advance.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

8 replies so far

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1242 days

#1 posted 08-17-2015 05:37 PM

Both the routed joint and the T&G are based on the same premise and will likely involve the same or similar amount of wood:wood contact. I think that either is fine for constructing a frame and panel. As to material, I personally like to stay with real wood if possible. I’m not a fan of engineered materials. This is really personal, as I’m sure that many engineered materials are suitable to this task, and may be far superior. I prefer working with wood, and that’s about all the reason I can give for recommending the cedar. Cedar is very traditional as an exterior wood, and you can paint it without too much bother.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View BigMig's profile


440 posts in 2641 days

#2 posted 08-17-2015 05:58 PM

I agree, especially re: materials…just want to be sure I get the longest life out of the project…
Thanks for your response.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2840 days

#3 posted 08-17-2015 06:18 PM

I would join them with deep mortise and tenon joints. I don’t fully trust cope and stick joints, or stub tenons in outdoor applications. Regardless of the style of shutter, you should be able to build them with long tenons (one inch long is plenty). I build cabinet doors that way, and I think they are much stronger, and less prone to warping.
Have any pictures of the old shutters?

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View BigMig's profile


440 posts in 2641 days

#4 posted 08-17-2015 07:02 PM

I like the idea of M&T…nice and strong.

I’ll post photos of the old ones tonight. Thx for the ideas.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View bondogaposis's profile


4769 posts in 2378 days

#5 posted 08-17-2015 07:43 PM

Mortise and tenon is going to be the way to go for longevity. The panel floats in a groove.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View CharleyL's profile


222 posts in 3392 days

#6 posted 08-18-2015 02:48 AM

I built the shutters for my home from fir lumber. I researched the choices and fir seemed to be the most economical for my location. I was told by many that the fir would last a very long time if it was kept painted. My shutters were made with M&T joints and floating solid panels (no louvers) to match a design that swmbo picked out. They are 1 1/4” thick. For additional protection I had some channel bent up from aluminum flashing material to fit over the top edge of each shutter. The vertical edge of these channels is only 1/4” high and the width allows them to fit tightly over the top edge of the shutter. I attached these with ALEX clear silicone caulk before painting the shutters, but after priming them. I also primed all of the raised panel channels and the raised panels themselves before assembling the shutters. I then primed the rest of the shutter after assembly, followed by two coats of exterior latex paint. So far (about 5 years) there is no sign of any weather damage at all, but most of my shutters are on windows facing NW and they see very little direct Sun. I’m kind of worried about how they will hold up if/when I build more shutters for the SE side of the house since everything bakes in the Sunlight there. My shutters were attached to my brick house using French Cleats made from treated lumber (painted), one cleat was mounted near the top and one near the bottom of each shutter with the mating cleat attached to the brick using stainless flat head screws and plastic anchors. One large stainless screw through the shutter and into the bottom French Cleat holds each shutter tightly in place, so I can easily remove and re-install the shutters when maintenance is required. The 3/4” thick cleats made the shutters stand slightly proud of the brick to produce a more “authentic look” and yet the shutters can be easy to install and remove. I did not go with the expensive authentic Colonial Hinges and stays. The French Cleats have done the job well.


View rwe2156's profile


2967 posts in 1508 days

#7 posted 08-18-2015 02:21 PM

I agree re: M&T.

My brother used alot of AZEK on decks and porches when he was a builder and really likes it.
Don’t know about paintability you’ll have to check on that.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View BigMig's profile


440 posts in 2641 days

#8 posted 08-24-2015 07:47 PM

The dealer’s rep responded to an email from me and he said it’s not very paint-able…since it’s like PVC, paint doesn’t adhere as well as it does to other materials. AND – I’ve gotten a recommendation for a local establishment that sells cypress that’s supposed to be very affordable…so I’m more likely to use cypress.

Whatya think?

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

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