What is a Louver?

S. Gonzales

A louver is a specific type of shutter, blind or window which is characterized as having a specific kind of slatted opening. Louvers are as much practical as they are aesthetic, since the slats are designed chiefly to keep unwanted elements out of the home.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The most notable feature of a louver are its slats. A louver has horizontal or vertical slats that are designed to maximize the amount of air and sunlight that may enter into its adjoining room. However, the angle of the slats are constructed so that rain, direct sunlight and noise can be minimized and kept out of the adjoining room. Slat angles can usually be adjusted in blinds or windows but they can also be permanently fixed into a predetermined position.

The origin of the louver can be traced back to Middle Ages. Louvers started as makeshift constructions that were built into holes found in kitchen roofs. They were usually composed of scrap material like from a barrel. People constructed louvers to simultaneously block unwanted rain and snow and allow for kitchen ventilation. As the popularity of the louver grew, construction methods became more intricate. Pottery constructions with designs mimicking the human face caught on and some louvers in the Middle Ages were created so that smoke and other debris could leave through the designs' eyes or mouths.

Louvers in the Middle Ages that weren't fixed could be opened or closed using a string that was connected to the structure. Dwellers could pull on the string each time adjustments to slat angles needed to be made. In the same way, modern louvers may be open and shut using levers or another similar mechanism. Metal levers can be commonly found on louvers that are composed of glass or another delicate material. Typically, however, the modern louver is composed of vinyl or, like the original louvers, of wood.

While louvers are generally thought to be part of a window, other uses for them exist. Louvers can be added to a closet or dressing room door to increase privacy. They can also be constructed to help with a home's heating and air conditioning ventilation system. Though louvers are still in use today, modern architects are more apt to use them as a technical device rather than a primary one. Some architects purposefully use the louver to accent or add an extra aesthetic element to an otherwise practical design.

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I have louvers over all the windows in my home. I have the fairly cheap kind so they easily bend and break though. It does not help to have a cat who jumps through them to get to the window either! Luckily the cat only does that to only one of the louvers.

I like having the adjustable louvers so that I can decide how open or closed they are. The louver over my bedroom window I usually leave closed because I am very warm-natured, so I get hot easily, so I try to keep the sun out of my room as much as possible.

I should dust my louvers probably once a month, but I do not. I tend to them about once a year. I have to use soap and water with them since so much dusts builds up! I don't think about dusting very often obviously.


I have blinds covering several of the windows in my house. I have to be careful when cleaning them, because they bend and warp easily.

I bought the cheapest ones I could find, so this is probably why they aren’t very durable. They serve their purpose, though, and they fit my budget.

I use them to help me sleep. On mornings when I get to sleep late, I adjust the slats to where they are shut backward. This keeps more light out and creates the illusion of night. I have trouble sleeping with daylight filtering into the room.

I have a friend who designs high quality louvered blinds. They are much heavier and sturdier than mine, but the price reflects that. I doubt I will ever be able to afford them, but they would be a great investment.


The only areas of my house with louvers are the louver vents. Every house I have ever lived in has had these, because they provide good control over air flow in certain areas.

I can shut the slats by turning a gear to block the air conditioning or heat from coming into a certain room. I can open the vent partially to determine where the air will flow, or I can open it all the way to make the air shoot straight up.

In the winter, I often shut the louver vent in my bedroom at night. The heat dries out my sinuses, and shutting it out makes it easier for me to sleep. I keep the door to my room closed all day with the vent open to store up heat for the night.


The house that I moved into twenty years ago has an octagonal louvered window in the attic. This is good, because I live in the South, and it gets extremely hot up there in the summertime. If it had only had a regular window installed, I never would have gone up there to open and shut it.

The rain stays out and the air gets in, but along with the air come small pests. I have seen swarms of red wasps entering and exiting the louvered window, and this makes me afraid to go in my attic.

Though there’s no way for them to get into the house from the attic, just knowing they’re up there makes me nervous. I have some things stored above that I might need to retrieve, and if I have to go up, I will need to carry a can of wasp spray.


My bedroom closet has a louvered door. It helps keep my clothes from smelling musty by allowing fresh air to circulate into the space. I used to have a solid closet door, and the trapped air made my clothes smell weird.

Because the louvers are permanently fixed in a downward facing direction, it is impossible for anyone on the outside to see inside. I can change in there without worrying that someone will walk into my room and see me. This design also discourages moths from flying in there and chewing on my clothes.


When we had our house built we made sure and had attic louvers installed. I had never given much thought to this until we were faced with the decision of what type of vents to install.

All of my closet doors also have louver slants in them. When the closet doors are closed, this helps the air circulate so it doesn't get stuffy inside the closet.

I have always had horizontal slats, but have a friend who went with vertical slats for some areas of her house. I don't know if there is much difference other than the look of it - I think they would function the same way.


I have louver blinds in every room of my house. These are made of high quality wood and I don't even have curtains over them. A couple of windows have valances at the top, but all I have for most windows are the louver blinds.

Because I live outside the city, I don't have to shut all of them at night. They are very easy to open and close depending on how the sun is shining in.

On hot days, I keep them closed so the inside of the house doesn't get so hot. The only thing I don't like about them are cleaning them. They get dusty just like everything else, and it can be a pain to dust every slat.


My dad is a professor of engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. They have a small section of the campus where they have built several experimental houses. The houses are test models of homes that are meant to be extremely energy efficient. They utilize solar panels on their roofs and then maximize the efficiency of the energy that they use.

One of the biggest features of all the houses is louvers that cover the sides of the home. The idea is that if you use the sun efficiently you can minimize heating and cooling bills while also maximizing the amount of light that you get. You wouldn't think that something small like window treatments would be so important but they have a big role to play in the way we build the homes of the future.


Has anyone seen that movie Pee Wees Big Adventure? Anyone who has will remember that Pee Wee had a really wacky house filled with odd touches and wacky additions. There has a house down the street from where I grew up that we always called the Pee Wee house because the owners had done so many weird things to it.

The yard was full of statues, there was multiple satellite dishes on the roof and they sometimes cut their grass into patterns. But what was probably most noticeable about the house is that it had louvers on all the windows and each one of the slats was painted a different color. They looked like sticks of fruit flavored gum. As a kid I always liked it but my mom seemed to think it was the tackiest thing in the world. I'm on the fence now that I am older. They did look kind of silly but its nice that not every single person's house looks exactly the same.

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