DIY: How to Paint Vinyl Shutters

When we bought our house last year, we were pretty unhappy with the color palette. It was a brand new construction home with, you guessed it…absolutely NO charm or character. The house has pale yellow siding and had baby blue shutters at the time. It looked washed out. Every time we pulled into the driveway, my husband and I would say, “Ugh, I can’t wait until the day we paint those shutters black.”

Here are a couple pictures of the house when we bought it:

I set out to find the perfect black shutter paint. After some extensive research about the difference between spray paint and exterior latex paint, I ultimately decided on Sherwin Williams Exterior Emerald Paint. It it the top of the line for exterior paint and has a lifetime warranty. The only problem is that neither Sherwin Williams nor Benjamin Moore makes a vinyl safe exterior paint in the color black (apparently it warps if it’s black…go figure).

Disclaimer: You are free to paint your shutters whatever color you like but just know that if you do not use the vinyl safe paint on vinyl shutters and you paint your shutters black, they will warp and it will void the warranty since you used a color they tell you not to use.

Anyway, the closest to black that I could get was “Black of Night.” It is a very very dark blue but could be mistaken for black. I figured anything was better than what I currently had, so I decided to give it a try. I chose a satin finish since I didn’t want shiny shutters. Here is the paint can (notice the “vinyl safe” writing on the label).

My next step was to have my husband take all 20 shutters down for me. He was excited to do this project so I didn’t have to bribe him with food, but usually that works too. Be sure to check what kind of screws your shutters use before you start your project. Ours required a square drill bit so we had to make a quick trip to Home Depot to pick one up.

Here’s what the house looked like for a few weeks with no shutters. I actually think it looks a little better than it did WITH the ugly baby blue shutters.

When you take your shutters down, MAKE SURE YOU LABEL WHERE THEY CAME FROM! This step is very important as each shutter is drilled into your house differently and you’ll never be able to match the holes up yourself if you lose track of which window they came from. We had 10 windows so we chose to label them 1-10 for each window and A and B depending on whether it was the left shutter or the right shutter. We put a piece of tape that looked like this on the back of each shutter:

We also drew up a little diagram of the house so we would know where to place each shutter when we were finished:

It’s helpful to have a couple sawhorses on hand so you can lay your shutters over them while you paint. We didn’t have any so my handy husband made me two. Here he is building them for me:

Perhaps the most important step in this whole process is washing your shutters. Ours were new so they didn’t have years of build-up and dirt on them, but they still needed a good cleaning. Let them dry in the sun for a few hours or let them sit overnight in a dry place before you start painting. There is no need to wash (or paint) the backside of the shutters. Use some sort of rag (I used a staining pad) to wipe off any debris that has made its way back onto the shutters before you paint each one. Here I am washing the shutters with some dish soap, a bucket, an old rag, and our garden hose.

You’ll need to paint all your screw heads to match your shutters. Each one of my 20 shutters had six screws for a total of 120 screws. My husband stripped a few of them when he was taking them down, so we had to buy a few more from Home Depot (never hurts to have some extra on-hand just in case). I needed to find a way to get all 120 screws to stand upright so I could easily paint them. My sister-in-law had a genius idea to use a flower arrangement block from Michael’s. I got a four pack for about $3 with my 50% off coupon. It worked like a charm! I just used a little water color brush to paint three coats onto the heads of the screws.

Next you’ll want to get a 1″ or a 1.5″ angled brush to do your painting. I like to use these paint brush covers to keep my brush wet in between painting. Three coats of paint on 20 shutters took me about a week and a half. By putting my paint brush into this plastic holder in between paint sessions, I was able to pick up where I left off without having to wash my brush in between. This saves A TON of time. It’ll keep your brush wet for days!

Finally, I was able to begin painting! When painting vinyl shutters with a faux wood-grain, it’s important to paint WITH the wood-grain. You want to make sure your brush strokes follow the natural grain in the “wood” so your paint job doesn’t look sloppy. Trust me on this one. It makes a huge difference. Here I am with my sister-in-law painting while we listen to some NeedToBreathe on Pandora 🙂

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a shutter with the original baby blue and one with the new color:

This picture clearly shows why I needed to do more than one coat. You can see the original baby blue color peaking through. EW!

After three coats, it’s time to put them up! Make sure you wait four to seven days before hanging them. With that many coats, the shutters will be tacky and might scratch if you don’t allow them to fully dry. Here is my wonderful husband once again being a good sport and helping me with this project.

Here’s the final result! I think it looks SOOO much better! Feel free to comment below and let me know if you found this tutorial helpful. Next step is to paint the door red. I’ll be sure to post a tutorial on that as well!

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Before and After:

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6 thoughts on “DIY: How to Paint Vinyl Shutters

  1. Rachel Langerhans says:

    Hey Jamie! I loved reading your DIY posts so far and I look forward to reading more 🙂 You explain the process in depth and make it easier to understand. It makes me want to try some projects around my house… maybe someday! I’m glad you’re pursuing something you love and putting it out there to help others – you’re great at it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wayne says:

    Jamie,
    Great detailed description of a job well done. Now I know how to do the job right the next time that I do my house’s shutters. One problem that you probably didn’t run into, but is more likely with an older home, is that bees tend to make little nests in the higher shutters. So, just a word of caution about something that you may have to deal with before taking down the shutters. Otherwise you might be up on a ladder with some angry bees telling you they were happy with the original color!

    Like

    • This Place of Grace says:

      So true, Wayne! We discovered a wasp nest when we took ours down. Ryan sprayed but then they kept trying to come “home” while I was washing all of the shutters in the driveway. Needless to say, I brought the baby inside for a couple hours until they went away. Great advice!

      Like

  3. Lydia says:

    Love love looooooove! I’m hoping to do our shutters and front door soon!
    Are you planning to do your door? (Just me being nosey. 😂)

    Like

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