Ultimate Guide to Painting Vinyl, Wood, or Plastic Shutters

Ultimate Guide to Painting Vinyl, Wood, or Plastic Shutters

Looking to raise the curb appeal of your house without spending thousands on remodeling or a major home-improvement project? Painting your shutters can give them a new lease on life.

This guide will show you how to repaint your wood, plastic, or vinyl shutters.

Why You Should Paint Your Shutters

If your shutters are old and faded, just bringing them back to their original color can make your house look newer and more valuable.

And there’s no reason to stick with the old color—you can repaint them as subtle accents or bold highlights to revitalize your home’s facade.

You could buy all new shutters in a special color, but that’s an expensive solution and most home stores only carry limited selections in plain colors. For a custom color you’ll need to paint the new shutters anyway, so only buy new shutters if the old ones are actually cracked or broken.

Call the pros or DIY?

Painting the shutters is a project most homeowners can tackle themselves. If you have a lot of windows or don’t want to risk climbing a ladder, a local housepainter would happily take the job.

Professional painters have tools like airless paint sprayers that can produce a fine finish much quicker than brushwork can.

Trendy Shutter Ideas

For an elegant design upgrade, consider painting your shutters black. Black provides a sharp contrast against the lighter colored siding, and works well with both colorful doors and trim or earth tones. Black shutters can look especially striking on a brick or brownstone house.

For a classic look, Oxford Blues and Hunter Greens evoke Colonial American styles. This is a great look for an antique house or newer construction with  a colonial flair.

Want to make a bolder statement? Vivid reds and oranges are a bold design choice that can set your home apart.

Wood Shutters

Can you paint wood shutters on the house?

Yes, you can paint wood shutters without taking them off of the house. But be warned: this may seem like an easy way to save time and effort, but it might take more work to do right than bringing the shutters down to paint.

If you decide not to take the shutters off, you will have to carefully cover any areas where the shutters meet the house and any metal hardware.

This could be fairly easy on working shutters, but decorative shutters flush with the wall would need careful masking to keep paint from running between slats or dripping at corners onto the siding.

Even if your painting technique is perfect, paint can run and drip from the shutter as you work. This can easily ruin the siding or brick behind the shutter. And a slip or a trip when painting second floor shutters could send a bucket of paint tumbing down the side of your house.

It is much easier to unscrew the shutters and take them down to paint over a drop cloth

How to Prep Wood Shutters for Paint

Ask any pro house painter and he or she will tell you that paint prep is the most important part of a project. How well you prepare your shutters to be painted will make the difference between an ugly, peeling finish and a flawless, appealing finish.

  • Remove old layers of paint. Using a chemical stripper or a paint scraper, remove the bulk of the old paint.
  • Lightly sand the shutters with medium sandpaper.
  • Spray or brush an exterior primer on the wood, and allow it to dry.

After this, your shutters should look like an even grey or white. Once the primer is dry (check your chosen product for recoat times) it’s time to start painting!

How to Paint Wood Shutters

Painting wood shutters is easy as long as you don’t try to rush the process. Handling the shutters before the paint has cured or recoating too soon can quickly turn your paint job into a sticky, fingerprinted disaster.

  • Thoroughly stir paint to an even consistency.
  • Pour some paint into a paint tray.
  • Using a wide, flat brush, paint with the grain of the wood. For solid shutters, start with the center panel details and work outwards. For slatted shutters, paint the slats first, careful not to let paint build up in the corners.
  • Work in thin layers. This process is going to take a day or two, and trying to rush it will only make the job longer when you have to strip tacky, uncured paint that built up after aggressive coats.
  • Once the shutters are fully dry, you can put them back up.
  • If you want extra protection for the new paint job, you could also add a varnish or acrylic clear coat to protect better against sun and weather.

What kind of paint is best for wood shutters?

Oil-based paints are the most durable for exterior use. They dry to a more durable finish, adhere better to wood surfaces, and are less vulnerable to being stained by the wood underneath. Oil-based paints should be used with oil-based primers.

Water based paints, also know as latex paints, are easier to work with and most brands carry formulas designed for exterior use. They dry faster than oil paints and form a flexible finish that is less likely to crack or peel if it gets damaged.

Most home improvement stores will carry a full selection of latex and oil paints, and custom colors can easily be mixed.

Can you spray paint wood shutters?

If spray paint is all you have, you can use it to paint wood shutters, but the finish will not be as even or as durable as a dedicated exterior paint.

Most spray paint is not made for exterior use. Sunlight and weather will quickly degrade the finish.

Spray paint doesn’t cover large pieces of wood very well. Untreated wood will soak up spray paints, resulting in a blotchy appearance.

If the wood is finished with lacquer or acrylic, the solvents in spray paint can react badly with the wood finish used to seal the shutter. This could result in bubbling or peeling paint.

Spray paint is also temperamental with weather and humidity. Common paints like Rustoleum’s UltraCover line are only designed to adhere properly between 50*F and 90*F and below 65% humidity. This means a large part of the year is not suitable for outdoor work with spray paint.

Vinyl Shutters

Can you paint vinyl shutters on the house?

Yes, you can. You will need to use brush paints. You will also need to tape and cover the area around the shutter so that paint won’t get on your siding or brickwork.

Spray paints often cause problems with overspray, where finely misted paint sticking to everything for a few inches around the thing you are spraying. Trying to spray vinyl shutters in place is an easy way to ruin your siding or window frame.

Preparing Vinyl Shutters for Paint

Before you can paint vinyl, it needs to be cleaned and primed for paint. The easiest way is to clean with any household bleach or degreaser.

Lacquer Thinner can be used to remove old paint or stubborn stains from vinyl. Apply the thinner to a rag or paper towel then scrub the spot. A soft bristle brush can also be used to scrub stains without damaging the finish of your shutter.

If you are keeping the same or a similar color as the original vinyl, most latex exterior paints can be brushed or sprayed directly onto the shutters. If you want a lighter shade of color or a color that contrasts with the original color, you should prime with a light grey or white before laying down the final color.

How to Paint Vinyl Shutters

Vinyl shutters can be painted much the same as wood shutters.Painting vinyl shutters with a wide, flat brush is easy, as long as you follow lay down thinner coats.

Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before adding another. Don’t try to cover the entire shutter with one coat of paint.

Paint rollers are great for wide, flat surfaces, but may not work as well on shutters. You will still need to use a flat brush to paint between shutter slats after using a roller.

Can you spray paint vinyl shutters?

Yes! In fact, Krylon and Rustoleum both make paints and primers that bond well to vinyl and other plastics. Just be careful not to spray too thickly.

Think about spray paint the same way as brushed-on paint—work in thin, even layers, and follow the recoat times printed on your can of spray paint. Don’t try to cover the entire shutter in one go.

The solvents in commercial spray paints are extremely toxic. Krylon recommends wearing a respirator if using their products in an unventilated space.

Best Paints for Vinyl Shutters?

Latex paints work best with vinyl shutters. Oil paints won’t bond well to the shutter’s surface and easily peel or crack when the plastic shrinks or expands with the seasons.

Spray paints are a great choice for vinyl too, as long as you use formulas like Krylon Fusion that are made to bond with plastic. Generic enamel spray paints will have the same problems as oil paints on vinyl.

Plastic Shutters

Can plastic shutters be painted? Yes!

With plastic, you have to be careful to use plastic safe paints. Otherwise, plastic shutters can be painted just like vinyl or wood.

Can you paint plastic shutters on the house?

Many people want to know how to paint shutters without removing them from the house. The best solution is to carefully tape around the shutter with wide blue painter’s tape and be careful when painting the edges that sit against the siding.

Unless your shutter is in an extremely hard to reach spot, taking a plastic shutter down is going to be less stressful and take less work than trying to work around the shutter in place.

Preparing Plastic Shutters for Paint

Before painting, plastic shutters should be cleaned and primed. Any plastic-safe household cleaner can be used to scrub any dirt or mildew from the plastic. If the shutters are newer and unpainted, a wipe-down with lacquer thinner can help to totally clean the surface.

Since latex paint won’t bond well to bare plastic, you should put down a layer of primer first. Not all primers are meant for plastic surfaces. If you’re buying spray cans, be careful not to buy the metal-etching primer sold for cars and appliances. It could eat through the plastic.

Most home improvement stores will carry several options for spray paint and cans of liquid paint that can be used on plastic. Make sure any product is rated for exterior use.

How to Paint Plastic Shutters

If you have plastic shutters, you’re in luck! As long as you follow a few easy steps, you can get a clean, professional finish on your shutters.

  • Clean the plastic with a mild degreaser.
  • For brush painting, spray a plastic primer first before applying the new color.
  • Brush several thin coats of color, allowing each coat time to level out and dry before adding another.
  • For spray-painting, many brands make a paint-and-primer that will bond directly to clean plastic.
  • Spray in short, sweeping bursts. Don’t spray thick, heavy layers. Most paints can be recoated within twenty minutes to fill in uneven spots.
  • Once the paint is cured, seal the shutters with a clear coat. Acrylic spray cans are an easy way to protect your shutters against water and sun damage.

Can you spray paint plastic shutters?

Spray paints made for plastic can produce a great finish for a DIY project. Proper spray technique will make the difference between a smooth, durable paint job and an uneven mess.

When using spray paints, sticking to one company’s product line is usually the best idea. Whether you use Krylon, Rustoleum, Sherwin-Williams or another brand, just be sure that the paint is designed for plastics.

Best Paint for Plastic Shutters

With plastic, you have a lot of options for paints. Any latex exterior house paint will cover plastic shutters well. Spray paints made for plastic will also provide durable and finishes.

If you find a color you love but that line of paint isn’t made to be plastic compatible, plastic-compatible paint can be used like a primer, then the color you want can be painted on top of it. This strategy can also be used to paint oil or enamels over plastic.

Looking for help with your shutter project?

Pizzazz Painting has been serving the South Jersey area for more than twenty years. From xmall projects to whole houses, Pizzazz is dedicated to helping their customers get their space looking its best. If you need a team to do exterior paintwork, call (609)-702-8200 for a consultation.