Should you buy your interior shutters online or locally?
In today’s era, most of us tend to search for solutions to our problems online. The window fashion industry is no different. So, while you’ve been doing research online, you probably came across both local full-service companies as well as online options. And now you wonder: should you buy shutters from a full-service window fashion specialist or a popular online retailer? What option is the best? Cause, to be frank, you are probably (in your mind at least) perfectly capable of installing an interior shutter or blind on your own. How hard can it be?
We get it!
As a full-service window company, we are going to favor one option over another. So in this post, I decided to just compare the hard facts, that I can’t change or add value to. I choose to look at the #1 Google result, which is one of the largest (if not the largest) online stores within our industry. And the result was shocking to me. Let’s go!
Starting price: $842.99 vs $625
As I’m sitting in my office with a plantation shutter to my right writing this (the actual window is in the picture at the top of this post), I decided to use the same dimensions: 48″ width x 50″ height.
The first choice I have to make on the website is what brand of shutter I want to go with. They offer 9 different faux-wood materials, so I go with the one material that is the closest to the poly-resin shutter that we sell. This shutter option has great reviews on their website, and since I’m aware of the brand, I know it’s a fairly decent shutter. It’s not their cheapest or most expensive option.
Said and done. Typing in the dimensions leaves me with a starting price of $842.99. I’m honestly shocked. We charge $625.00 for the same size shutter- INSTALLED. And this is just the beginning.
Let’s choose design options
From here, the website asks a bunch of questions, which I’m answering according to my actual window.
The window is in an office.
I confirm my measurements.
Then they want me to measure my window for squareness. Letting me know that if my window is 1/2″ out of square I can no longer do an inside mount of my shutter. Wow! I understand that an inside mount is more complicated to install, but as a professional window covering installer, I know that an inside mount is the preferred design. It is the right way to go any time it’s possible to use this application. An outside mount can easily look boxy if it’s not done right.
I’ll move on, assuming that my window is square so I can get an inside mount.
The next question is the window depth. No problem, this window has enough depth for a shutter.
I add that I currently don’t have any trim around my window and my window doesn’t tilt in.
This window doesn’t have a protruding sill, so I click on the “flush” sill which leaves me the option of a 4-sided Frame for my shutter.
With all my choices I am left to decide if I want to do an inside or outside mount. So I chose an inside mount, considering what I said previously.
I picked the white color a 4 1/2″ louver and the Trim Frame option. Just like I have on my current shutter.
The options for the tilt bar are either the traditional tilt bar option or a gear view system which is a $252.89 update. The gear-view option means that you can tilt the louvers without the “stick” in front of the shutter. At our company, we hold a third option called Clear-View, but I’m going to have to go with the Gear-View option to best match my current shutter with no visual tilt bar in the front. This is the first time I’ve come across any company that offers the upgraded gear view and not the option of the clear view.
My panel option is 2 panels single, left and right, and a divider rail in the middle.
My final price of the shutter after all these design options, considering there was no actual problem with my window is now:
Crazy! And I have to install it myself!
Considering that I would be handy enough to install the shutter on my own, $1,095.88 is my final price.
If I would like to, the website does offer installation by a local professional for an additional $199 (unlimited amount of shutters for residential homes). Leaving the new total at $1,294.88. Great!
What we do at SunCoast Blinds
Three significant differences between purchasing at the online store vs SunCoast Blinds (a full-service window covering company), with me excluding any opinion I have regarding the quality of the product, are the following.
Working with a professional from day one will provide you with exact measurements, but it will also allow you to not be forced into outside mounting as soon as your windows aren’t perfectly square. Having been in the industry for almost 30 years, I can tell you that perfectly square windows barely exist.
When you buy interior shutters, some options are purely a design, and some options have functionality. You need to know the difference. A professional will explain the pros and cons with different options, and provide the best solution for your specific situation. A website can’t do this. Never underestimate the power or knowledge.
This difference is not true regarding all custom window treatment companies. But, at SunCoast Blinds all our design options are included in the price. It doesn’t matter how the shutter needs to be installed, what color, frame, louver size, tilt bar or clear-view you pick. They won’t affect your price. Get the shutter that you want, and don’t let your budget restrict your design choices.
When you work with a full-service company the installation is included in the price. All you need to do is open the door for the installers to complete the job, leaving you with beautiful new interior shutters. If something should be wrong with the product from the factory, the installers will handle it, at no cost or effort from you.
Working with an online company may require you to ship things back and forth, maybe even pay for the shipping. This website mentions that you’re allowed to measure and order wrong one time, to get it re-made at no cost. After that, any faults due to your measuring are at your own cost.
The estimated shipping for the online shutter is 11 days after ordering. Not bad at all. They also let me know that if I want a professional installer, I have to contact the company once I receive my package to schedule an installation. There is no information to let me know how long the waiting time is between that call and the actual installation.
At our full-service company, we have one month from order to install. So, from the moment you give us a thumbs up, you can expect an installation day to happen within a month from that day. As soon as we have the products in our hands we will call you to schedule an appointment.
The website says they offer a 25-year warranty, which is no different from our shutter warranty. The one difference is, once again, that as a local company, we will repair the product for you, while the website will send you parts to repair it on your own.
Just based on my assumptions, I’ve always thought purchasing window treatments from an online company would provide a significantly better price than a local expert. How wrong I was.
So why do people still order from an online store with so many potential pitfalls? (AT A HIGHER PRICE)
Maybe, they’re like me, just assumed that it is the cheaper alternative to pick. As a professional, I think there are plenty of reasons anyone should avoid or at least be very careful ordering custom window fashions from an online business. I just never suspected that the price would also be significantly higher, for a lesser experience.
Don’t fall for it! Contact a local custom window treatment store to get the full experience.
Final Price from the online store (excl. installation): $ $1,294.88
Final Price from a local store (incl. installation): $ 625.00