Shutters are great accents to windows but not if they look shabby and in need of a new finish. Even if they are in great-looking shape, you can change up the appearance of your home by painting shutters a new accent color. You can renew your shutters, both interior and exterior, by following the steps below.
Step 1: Prep Shutters for Painting
Find a suitable work area in which to work on your shutters, like a garage, workshop or outdoors. Place drop cloths or tarps on the floor to catch dust from sanding, and later, any paint drips. Sawhorses are a great tool to use for easy access and mobility when painting your shutters.
Take shutters down by removing the hardware screws with a screwdriver, or ratcheting screwdriver if the screws are hard to remove. Don’t forget to place the screws somewhere safe where they can’t get lost. For second-story or higher shutters, use a ladder to reach them.
Familiarize yourself with basic ladder safety procedures. Be wary of placing the ladder on any slick or uneven spots on the ground. Invest in an adjustable ladder stabilizer and/or have someone hold the ladder for you.
Remove dust and dirt from the shutters with a rag or duster. Clean interior shutters with a sponge or scrub brush, water and mild detergent. For excessively dirty surfaces, such as exterior shutters, clean them with trisodium phosphate (TSP) — a heavy-duty cleaning powder. Dilute the TSP with water according to manufacturer’s specifications. Use a sponge or spray bottle to apply the TSP solution and then wash shutters with a sponge. Spray them down with a garden hose to remove all soap and debris. Wipe them with towels and let them dry completely before proceeding.
Use TSP as directed by the manufacturer. TSP can corrode metal and damage finished wood. Be sure to wear protective eyewear, clothing and rubber gloves.
Step 2: Remove Old Paint
If you have wood shutters, you need to remove the old finish before adding new paint. There are a couple of ways to do this: by sanding or by using a chemical paint stripper. Use a paint scraper to remove flaking or chipping paint and then sand the surface lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge. When finished, wipe away dust and residue from the shutters with a slightly damp rag or cloth.
A chemical stripping agent is a convenient method of removing paint from shutters’ louvers and any crevices or other hard-to-reach areas. Depending on the kind of stripper you use, apply it with a clean cloth or paintbrush, or spray it directly onto the wood. It will begin eating away at the old finish almost immediately. Let it sit on the shutter surface for about 10 minutes or whatever duration is suggested by the manufacturer. Use a plastic paint scraper and/or a sponge to remove the old finish.
When working with chemical stripping agents, work outside or in a well-ventilated space and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Once you’ve removed the old finish from the surface, use a clean rag to wipe down the surface so that the wood is completely bare. Let it dry.
Vinyl and plastic shutters need to be cleaned following the instructions in Step 1 by scrubbing with detergent and water. Sanding and scraping away paint isn’t necessary for these types of shutters. You simply need an appropriately formulated paint that will adhere to vinyl or plastic.
Step 3: Prime and Paint
Place the shutter on sawhorses with the slats “down”, or pointed toward you. On wooden exterior shutters, apply a coat of True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Primer/Sealer to the entire surface. For interior shutters, apply a coat of True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer. to the entire surface. For interior shutters, apply an interior latex primer. Use a 1" to 2"-wide paintbrush (try to match the width to the width of your louvers) and start at the top louver on one side, painting into the middle. Put more primer on your brush and then start from the opposite side of the louver, working back toward the middle, overlapping the wet edge of your first brush strokes. Continue working this way until you have covered the louvers with primer. You may need an even smaller paintbrush to get full coverage in crevices and other hard-to-reach spots. Use a 2" brush to apply primer to the shutter frame. Fill in any missed spots and smooth any drips. Let that side dry and then follow the procedure for the opposite side. Let that coat dry completely.
Exterior plastic and vinyl shutters should be painted with a paint that will adhere to these types of surfaces, such as True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint in Satin Finish. This paint is designed to expand and contract with vinyl and plastic surfaces reducing failure of the paint coat.
Apply paint as you would with wood shutters above. Remember to apply a coat of primer before painting.
Step 4: Re-hang Shutters and Clean Up
After the last coat of paint has fully dried, put the shutters back in place and reattach them using the original hardware. Pick up your drop cloths and close up paint cans that still contain paint. Dispose of used paint cans appropriately. Next, clean brushes and other tools with warm, soapy water. Thoroughly rinse your roller covers and brushes in water until it runs clear, and then place them in a brush/roller spinner, if you have one, to remove excess liquid. Store them in their protective sleeves or hang them on nails or hooks. Pick up drop cloths carefully, making sure you don’t spread around any paint that may have gotten on them.
Great work! You updated your shutters and your home's overall appeal.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.