How to Paint Any and All Exterior Shutters

Kristi Pahr
Written by Kristi Pahr
Updated July 26, 2022
Green painted shutters on a house’s attic window
Photo: imagedepotpro / E+ / Getty Images

Give your exterior a glow-up with newly painted shutters

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There’s no better way to give your exterior a facelift than by painting your shutters. Over time, shutters can start to fade or peel. And if you went for a trendy color 10 years ago, it might be time for an update. 

The good news: Painting exterior shutters is a relatively simple DIY project that you should be able to knock out in a weekend. Keep in mind, though, you might want to call in the pros for any second-story shutters to be safe.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint Shutters?

Depending on the type of paint and primer you use, this straightforward DIY costs around $50 per shutter. So, you can tackle this job in an afternoon or, if you’re using multiple coats of paint, two or three days to account for drying time.

How to Prep for Painting Shutters

Before you get started, make sure you have all the tools and supplies you’ll need. You’ll need:

  • Paint remover

  • Paint

  • Lacquer thinner

  • Ladder

  • Painter’s tape

  • Paint scraper

  • Medium-grit sandpaper 

  • Wide bristle paint brush

  • Sprayer

How to Paint Wooden Exterior Shutters

If your shutters are wood, there’s no need to remove them from the house, especially if they are functioning shutters that open and close. However, if they are flush with the house, careful taping and prep work are required to protect surrounding surfaces like hinges, window frames, and house siding. 

Best Paint for Wooden Shutters

Home improvement stores carry a wide variety of oil and water-based paints (also known as latex paint). Oil-based paints are the best paints for outdoor use, and they are more durable than latex and adhere easily to wooden surfaces. 

Water-based paints, on the other hand, are less likely to peel if the surface becomes damaged and dry more quickly than oil-based paints. Either will work fine for this project.

5 Steps for Painting Wooden Shutters

A man painting the exterior shutters of a house
Photo: Paul Barton/Fuse / Corbis / Getty Images
  1. Cover hinges, window sills, and siding with painter's tape if necessary.

  2. Using a paint stripper or a sander, carefully remove old paint layers.

  3. Apply primer with a paint sprayer or brush and allow to dry completely.

  4. Once your primer is dry, use a broad flat brush and apply paint in a thin, even coat. For solid panel shutters, start in the center and work outward. For slatted shutters, paint the slats first, starting at the top. Be sure not to let paint collect in the corners or slots between slats. Once you’ve finished the slats, move on to the frame.

  5. You will need to apply several coats, but be sure each is completely dry before applying the next.

Vinyl Exterior Shutters

Vinyl shutters have grown in popularity over the last several years due to their durability and how easy they are to care for. But they do need touch-ups every once in a while. 

You can paint your vinyl shutters while they are attached to the house or remove them if you want to be sure to avoid paint transfer to your siding or windows.

Best Paint for Vinyl Shutters

Latex paint is the best choice for vinyl shutters. Oil-based paints will not adhere well to vinyl and will leave you with a mess.

4 Steps for Painting Vinyl Shutters

  1. Prep vinyl shutters by cleaning with a mild bleach solution or a degreaser.

  2. If necessary, remove old paint lacquer thinner and a soft-bristled brush. Sanding is not recommended with vinyl shutters.

  3. Once the shutter is clean and dry, apply paint with either a sprayer or a broad bristle paint brush.

  4. Apply the paint in thin, even coats, and don’t attempt to cover the entire shutter in one pass.

Plastic Exterior Shutters

Plastic shutters can be painted either in place on the house or removed, painted, and then reattached. Be sure to opt for plastic-safe paints

Best Paint for Plastic Shutters

You can use latex paint on plastic shutters, just be sure to use a primer meant for plastic surfaces before painting.

4 Steps for Painting Plastic Shutters

  1. Clean and prep your plastic shutters with any plastic-safe household cleaner.

  2. Scrub with a soft bristle brush to remove dirt and mildew.

  3. Apply primer.

  4. Once the primer is dry, apply paint in thin, even coats with a wide bristle brush or sprayer.

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