American Linden - Basswood Tree

Linden Tree

American Linden (Tilia Americana) are large deciduous trees. They are members of the Tilia genus, called lindens in North America and limes in Britain.

Neither the name nor the tree is related to the citrus fruit called "lime". Another widely-used common name used in North America is Basswood, derived from bast, the name for the inner bark.

Grows to 65-130' tall and has a life expectancy of 60-80 years.

Linden leaf

Form & Shape

Thick and sturdy straight trunk with branches that divide and subdivide into numerous ramifications on which the spray is small and thick. In summer it's covered with large leaves, for a dense symmetrical ball of abundant foliage.


Linden timber is soft and easily worked, so it is a popular wood for intricate carving and model building. It can be sanded very smooth, and is resistant to warping once seasoned.

It is known in the wood trade as basswood, particularly in North America, from the inner fibrous bark of the tree, known as bast (Old English). Basswood is also frequently used as a material for electric guitar bodies, recorders and drum shells. It's the wood most used for window blinds and shutters, since it is lightweight and strong.

Why Basswood?

Despite the wide selection of shutter window treatment materials in the market today, choosing the perfect form for your home or office does not need to be difficult. With basswood’s traditional, warm, and natural appearance, it becomes extremely easy to decorate around, causing basswood to be the obvious choice for shutters or blinds. Other benefits of wood include these:

  • Extremely versatile
  • Minimal constraints on sizes - panel widths or heights
  • Complements any style and represents timeless beauty and elegance
  • Outlives most types of window treatments
  • Generally unaffected by extreme temperatures
  • Best at insulating because of its valuable thermal qualities
  • Does not bend like plastic
  • Easier to maintain and in the event of a repair, wood is always available & very serviceable
  • Once assembled will maintain its look

Why Not Synthetics

Wood vs. Plastic louver

"Wood Composite", "Wood Alloy", "Fauxwood", "Polywood", - through marketing they all want to tie into the popular premium attributes of real wood shutters. The reality is they are all plastic based and most have little or no wood components. Any wood component such as sawdust or wood flour, does not add to its dimensional qualities - it is only there to persuade you to buy their plastic product. The marketing strategy is to suggest it is wood or some component of wood!

  • Looks, feels, and sounds like plastic
  • Flimsy, yet heavier than wood quality causes sagging in the louvers
  • Has severe limitations and constraints on heights and widths
  • Becomes soft in mild temperatures
  • May yellow - plastic degrades quickly from UV light
  • Has limited color choices and minimal realistic stain options
  • Most shutters made from plastics look like they are pieced together similar to a model

Wood vs. Plastic

Both materials can be used successfully in the manufacture of interior window shutters. The decision as to which material is right for your home is based on the environment of the window shutters. The environmental factors that impact shutters in this decision are: heat and water.


Plastic is formed/shaped by heat. The blown PVC used in most plastic shutter components is formed at 1600. Likewise, as temperatures in a window approach 1200, plastic can begin to lose its rigidity. Hollow plastic louvers begin to lose their beam strength (ability to span even short lengths – you would call this warping – see picture at right) at temperatures as low as 1200.

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) or “Composite” or “Wood Alloy” - marketing terms used by our trade - can lose significant beam strength starting at 1200. At 1400 it is very pliable. MDF is formed under pressure at approximately 1400 utilizing plastic resins, wax, and various materials.

These materials include wood fiber, scrap, recycled paper, bamboo, carbon fibers and polymers, steel, glass, forest thinning and sawmill off-cuts.


This is generally much less a factor. Wood as a tree is formed with water; a tree transports solids within itself by the movement of water. As a result, wood can be reformed with moisture; either deliberately, as in the process of steam bending wood or the production of paper, or inadvertently by subjecting wood to standing water on your window sill or subjecting it to long periods of high humidity – neither are terribly likely in your home. If so, you have greater problems than what may or may not be happening with your shutter.

Keep in mind; exterior storm or hurricane shutters, in use for generations, have historically been made from real wood. Properly sealed, wood is the ideal base material.

More shutters are made of wood than any other material!


So the choice between wood shutters and plastic shutters is dependent upon your environment. Wood shutters can change shape under extreme changes of moisture and plastic shutters can change shape under instances of heat. All windows covered with shutters undergo great extremes in heat, from 400 by night to 1500 by day, but most homes do not have such wild swings in moisture (measured in relative humidity). Most home’s relative humidity hovers in the 15% range, and wood shutters will maintain 7.2% moisture content in a 78 degree home. Wood is the premium material of choice for shutters because it provides the best results for the largest group of homes (i.e. air conditioned) in the United States. Phoenix Arizona presents a hot temperature extreme for arizona shutters and blinds. Only basswood will do!

Heat Matters Most

141 degrees behind closed shutter in Phoenix - 101 outside

May 16th, 2006, Phoenix Az; 101 degrees outside, 141 degrees as measured behind a closed wood shutter. Imagine how high a 115 – 1200 day may drive up this temperature to behind your new shutters? Basswood is the only quality choice. Wood has withstood the test of time for decades and continues to be the most commonly used material for shutters!