What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

A recorded episode of Grand Designs introduced me to shadow gaps. Apparently the gaps had cost £10,000 in the house in question. One of the patrons questioned the wisdom of this architect led spend and that left me wondering, just what are shadow gaps?

Well, it turns out they are a grandiose term for a space between two surfaces. For example between the frame of a set of shutters and the window frame / wall against which they are installed (as in the photograph below) or between a plastered wall and a door lining. By leaving a narrow gap, the two surfaces ‘float’ apart rather than being butted up tightly together. The gap will usually be in shadow and when properly executed is both attractive to the eye and practical in that it leaves a gap to allow breathing, contraction or expansion. Also, where installing a new surface alongside a pre-existing one the shadow gap introduces a margin for error and removes the need for exact millimetre perfect measuring. This can be seen in the photograph of the shutters I installed retrospectively in the barn below – a relatively quick and easy job, made much easier by the gap between the wall and the shutters frame.

From Shutters