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Hardwood shutters are simply the best choice in terms of durability and the way they look.

But be warned. Some so-called hardwood shutters aren’t what they seem to be.

People often seek advice about wood shutters from well-known brands like Hillarys or John Lewis. But there’s actually an array of smaller specialist providers in Chichester, Horsham, Crawley, Brighton, Eastbourne, Southampton and Haywards Heath who can offer you sound advice.

“Hardwood shutters are more expensive, but that’s because they literally last a lifetime, so it’s a long-term investment,” explains Steve Wassenaar from Le Louvre Shutters in Brighton. “But some shutters are marketed as being hardwood when they are actually made of softwood combined with MDF or a plastic called ABS. Although they come with a three-year warranty they’re not as durable as hardwood.”

Inferior materials

Such inferior materials can’t be repaired easily. So you may end up having to pay for another set of shutters.

“A good analogy I use is the difference between a proper wood floor and a wood-effect version made from a laminate,” says Steve. “Proper wood can always be sanded down and restored to its former glory. Whereas a wood-effect laminate has to be ripped up and replaced. So choosing something cheaper is a false economy for something that you want to last for decades.”

So how do you avoid the fakes? If you have an older property in Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire or Kent, you can always take a look at Woman & Home Magazine [http://www.womanandhome.com] or the House to Home [http://www.housetohome.co.uk] to get a rough idea of what’s available on the UK market.

Experienced fitter

After this “window shopping”, it’s wise to sit down with a shutter expert to get good in-depth advice about what’s best for your home and your budget.

Once you’ve chosen the right shutters, you also need to be confident in a fitter’s ability to install the shutters properly. Some companies who fit well-known brands like S-Craft or Clement Browne allow enthusiastic DIY-ers to do the installation.

But what you really need is an experienced carpenter who is highly skilled.

There’s little point in shelling out on expensive hardwood shutters if the final fit is substandard.

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