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Your Shutters Won’t Stay Open? Try This

California shutters are a popular window treatment choice, but over time you may find that your beautiful shutters won’t stay open. Don’t worry. This is a common issue and one that is easily fixed. Read on to find out why this may happen and how you can easily fix it yourself. If you require further advice, contact Graham’s & Sons. We will come to your home for a free, in-home consultation and answer any questions that you may have.

“Matt and his team did the shutters on my new home and a couple of other things including some flooring installation. Not only do the shutters and the flooring look amazing but the team was always professional and courteous and made the process simple and straightforward. Can’t say enough about the workmanship from Graham’s and sons. Definitely recommend them.”
-Nicole Parada
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shutters won't stay open
NewStyle Hybrid Shutters by Hunter Douglas

My Shutters Won’t Stay Open

If you are having a problem with your shutters not staying open in the position that you have set them, then the following advice will help you fix them. Both vinyl and wooden shutters may experience this issue and depending on the design of your shutter, the steps to fix it are slightly different. If you would like to learn more about the other differences between vinyl and wooden shutters, read our article entitled “Is Wood Or Vinyl Better For California Shutters?

Why Won’t My Vinyl Shutters Stay Open?

Probable Cause: The tension in the louvres has slackened with time.

Solution: You can solve this problem by tightening up the tension on one of the middle louvres in the shutter. Once the tension is tighter in that louvre, all of the louvres will stay open and work properly.

Materials Needed: You will need the following tools to fix the tension on your vinyl shutters.

The following video will show you how to easily increase the tension on your vinyl shutters. For step by step written instructions, read below.

Step 1: Carefully remove one of the centre slats from your shutter. You can do this by gently bending the slat in the middle and lifting it out. You will notice that there is a hole on either side of the shutter frame (stile) where the louvre has been removed
Step 2: Drill into one of the exposed holes to make it larger. The outside dimension of the hole should measure 5/8″.
Step 3: Clean away any debris left over from your drilling.
Step 4: Apply a small amount of super glue around the outside of your shutter tensioner.
Step 5: Snap the tensioner into the hole
Step 6: Replace the louvre. It is easier to attach the side with the new tensioner first.
Step 7: Let the glue dry for a few hours before you start moving or opening and closing your shutters

Why Won’t My Wooden Shutters Stay Open?

Probable Cause #1: Wood is a porous material, so over time it can shrink or swell slightly due to the changes in the humidity in your room. This will occur most often when the seasons change, especially from winter to spring and from summer to fall. The change in moisture in the air will make the wood expand or contract, changing the space between the louvres and stiles (vertical piece of the shutter frame). This will alter the amount of tension on the louvres, so they may begin to slip and not stay open.

Solution: Tightening up the tension in a wooden shutter is simpler than a vinyl shutter because wooden shutters usually have a hole that is drilled through the entire frame with screws that attach from the outside of the stile to the louvres. You can simply tighten these screws to give you the extra tension required to keep your shutters open. Conversely, if your shutter is too stiff, you can loosen this screw slightly to make the shutters easier to open and close.

Materials Needed: A Phillips medium sized screwdriver.

The following video will show you how to easily increase the tension on your wooden shutters.


  • Make sure that you only make 1/4 to one full turn to the right. If you turn too far, it can strip the screw.
  • Turning the screw clockwise will tighten the louvre and turning counterclockwise will loosen it.
  • Make sure you adjust the screws on both sides of the stiles. There usually is a screw on the hinge side as well as the opening side. If you only adjust one side, it may not be as effective.
  • Longer shutters may have more than one louvre with tension screws. It this is the case then you need to adjust each one.
wooden shutters
Tilia Wooden Shutters by Maxxmar

Probable Cause #2: The holes where your tension screws are inserted have expanded and the screws can no longer grip properly into the wood.

Solution: You can solve this problem by giving the screws something to grip onto.

Materials Needed: You will need the following items to fix the hole.

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Wood Glue
  • Toothpicks (square shaped is best but round will work too)

Step 1: Unscrew and remove the screw from the shutter stile (frame).
Step 2: Coat several toothpicks with wood glue and place them inside the screw hole in the stile.
Step 3: Place the screw back into the stile and tighten the screw, turning clockwise with your screwdriver.

Note: The inserted toothpicks will provide the screw something to grip into so that you will be able to tighten or loosen the tension on your louvres again.

California Shutters Design Ideas
California Shutters by Maxxmar

Graham’s & Son – Your Local Shutters Expert

If you are not sure you have the time to repair your shutters on your own, contact Graham’s & Son for advice and assistance.  Graham’s & Son has been in the interior design business in the Cambridge region for more than 40 years. We are locally owned and operated and are thankful for our loyal clientele who readily recommend us to their friends and family members. For advice about how shutters could increase the value of your home and its style, contact the design experts at Graham’s & Son. We will come to your home and do a free, in-home consultation. We will also provide you with a quote during our first visit with you. And right now is the perfect time to purchase. Buy any two shutters, blinds, or shades and receive a third absolutely free!


How to Fix Shutters When Louvres Won’t Stay Open