Shutters are usually the finishing touch on a home’s exterior. They add elegance, character and bring the home to life.
While shutters originated as a practical way to control light into a home, protect from the elements and add a level of security to a home, today’s shutters are typically cosmetic and just add to the look of a home.
The most commonly used and easiest to install shutters are typically vinyl, though many homes have wood shutters as well.
Vinyl is typically used because of its durability, low cost, and easy installation.
Over time though, vinyl has a tendency to fade, thus resulting in the need to replace your vinyl shutters or to paint them.
But can you paint your vinyl shutters? Is it possible, will they warp, will the paint peel off?
Can I Paint Vinyl Shutters?
Yes, you can. Painting vinyl shutters is not only possible, but it’s actually quite easy as well.
In the past, vinyl was typically something you wanted to avoid painting. Vinyl is naturally maintenance free but once you apply a coat of paint to it, you now have to worry about maintenance. Your paint could start peeling or even worse, the vinyl could overheat and warp.
However, with today’s new vinyl safe color technologies along with a proper prep job, painted vinyl shutters can last for tens of years without any maintenance.
- Tools and Materials Needed
- Choosing The Right Paints
- Step 1: Removing The Shutters
- Step 2: Prepping The Shutters for Paint
- Step 3: Priming The Shutters
- Step 4: Top Coating The Shutters
- Step 5: Reinstall The Vinyl Shutter
Tools and Materials Needed to Paint Vinyl Shutters
Painting vinyl shutters doesn’t require any fancy tools, in fact, you should already have most of these tools lying around the house.
Also, a sprayer is definitely not needed. I’ve seen too many DIY sites write about using a sprayer, but these sites are written by people who have not done this work for the past 20 years. A sprayer will cost you more money, take time to set up, take time to clean up and they all have a learning curve. A good old paint brush will rock your shutters in no time.
- Step Ladder – I love the Little Giant for it’s versatility!
- 2.5″ Paint Brush
- Scrub Pad
- Dish Soap
- Fine Grit Sanding Sponges
- Shop Vacuum
- Vinyl Safe Top Coat Paint
Choosing The Right Paints
When painting vinyl shutters, you need to use a high-quality acrylic paint, typically any exterior paint from your major brands will do (Sherwin Williams, Behr, Benjamin Moore and more).
What you really have to watch out for when painting vinyl though is if the color is safe to use or not.
Dark colors tend to absorb more heat than lighter colors and as a result, can cause your vinyl shutters to warp (this is especially true of vinyl siding).
To combat this, most major exterior paint brands now have released Vinyl Safe Color Technologies. These are colors that use different pigment blends that don’t absorb heat the way that normal color pigments do and allow you to safely paint your vinyl with any color you choose.
You can read more about vinyl safe colors by Sherwin Williams, and Benjamin Moore.
Step 1: Removing The Shutters
The first step in properly painting your vinyl shutters is to physically remove them from your home.
You’ll find the project much easier if they are removed and painted on the ground on a flat surface.
Most shutters are held in place with 4-6 plugs and occasionally screws. If your shutters have plugs, simply take a flat head screwdriver and pliers and pull them out. Try not to damage these plugs so that you can reuse them later.
Step 2: Prepping The Shutters for Paint
Once you have the shutters removed, place them onto a drop cloth on the ground, driveway or garage. Typically somewhere out of the hot sun will give you more working time when it does come time to apply the paint.
First, you’re going to want to scrub your shutters clean with soap and hoat water. This is to remove the white film buildup, dirt, debris and mold or mildew that may be on your shutters. Make sure to rinse the soap off completely before moving on.
After the shutters have dried, an extra step, but one that is worth doing, is to scuff up your shutters with a fine grit sanding sponge. This will microscopically scratch up the surface of the vinyl and make it easier for your primer/top coat to bond to the shutters when you paint them. It is an extra step, but it will add years of life to your finished product.
Finally, make sure to vacuum your shutters clean and allow them to dry completely.
Step 3: Priming The Shutters
Once the shutters are prepped, it’s time to prime them.
Any exterior latex primer will work just fine for this step. Primers typically come in white, so heat absorption is not an issue.
While you can skip this step, primers typically have stronger binding properties than top coats and make a stronger connection to the surface and to the top coat. A primer can be the difference between shutters that still look great in 5 years or shutters that need to be repainting in 5 years.
Make sure to check out my post on cleaning paintbrushes to properly clean your brush for a long last life.
Step 4: Top Coating The Shutters
After priming your vinyl shutters, another light scuff sand with your medium grit 3M sanding sponges and a quick vacuum is recommended. This will help ensure a great bond of the top coat to the primer as well as smooth looking shutters.
There is really no trick to brushing on your top coat. Just take your time, smooth out the paint, avoid runs and enjoy the project.
Step 5: Reinstalling The Shutters
You should allow your shutters plenty of time to thoroughly dry before you try to reinstall them. Reinstalling too soon can result in scratching the paint off the shutters because it hasn’t had time to bond properly and it can even cause your shutters to bond to your home, making them incredibly hard to remove in the future.
I like to let my shutters dry overnight before reinstalling.
After that, your project is finished.
As you can see, painting vinyl shutters is not only possible, but it is an easy 1-day job for most homeowners.
Got paint somewhere that it’s not supposed to be? Check out my post on How To Remove Paint From Nearly Any Surface.
If your home has shutters in hard to reach places or at dangerous heights, play it safe and call a professional.
Check out our Exterior Painting page for even more information on exterior painting, paints, and products.
Friday 8th of May 2020
What are your thoughts on spray painting the shutters?
Tuesday 19th of May 2020
I am assuming you mean cans of spray paint. I say why not. Spray paint is easy and looks good. As long as you get the right spray paint, go for it.
Monday 23rd of September 2019
Is there any problem with painting the shutters without removing them from the house?
Monday 23rd of September 2019
Nope. We just typically remove them because we are painting the rest of the house at the same time. It also allows us to avoid getting paint on the house while painting the shutters and allows us to do less ladder work.
Tuesday 20th of August 2019
Ryanc, The process you explained when preping and painting vinyl was infomational. What I would like to know is what did you charge for each shutter you painted.
Tuesday 20th of August 2019
Hey Allan, When charging for shutter painting I think through the process as follows: First, how long will it take me to remove the shutter, how long will it take me to prep and paint the shutter, and finally how long will it take me to re-install the shutter. Then add that up and apply your hourly rate + cost of paint.
Monday 5th of August 2019
Am thinking of painting our vinyl shutters. Your DIY instructions make it sound so easy to do. Do you recommended a paint brand over another?
Wednesday 7th of August 2019
Honestly, I used to recommend different brands. These days I have found that Behr, Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and others all offer amazing products all with huge warranties. It's really about what is most convenient to you and who will offer the best service in your area.