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How To Paint Shutters: Master’s Guide

white shutters that just got painted with globe in front

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If you’re asking “how to paint shutters”, you’re not alone. If you’re looking to add a fresh coat of paint to your house, whether it be to your garage doors, your baseboards, or your shutters, this article provides expert painting tips that will guide you through the process of how to paint shutters without spending a lot of money.

But first, when you realize your painting job is over your head and you need to hire a professional painter, use the free Trusted House Painter app. It’s the fastest way to get multiple painting quotes from local painters with one simple post.

Shutters are great additions to your home, but if they start looking shabby and in need of a new finish, they don’t look so great.

If you find your shutters looking faded and worn down, adding a new coat of paint to restore their original color can immediately make your house look more valuable and newer.

Or, if you fancy a change, you don’t have to repaint it with the same color- you can choose a new subtle accent color or bold highlight to revive your home.

Even if your shutters are in perfect condition, freshening up your paintwork can change the look of your house.

So, in this article, we will guide you through each step on how to paint shutters. This will keep your expenses down as buying new shutters costs a lot of money, and we recommend only buying one if your old shutters are cracked, damaged, or broken.

This guide will explain step-by-step how to paint your shutters, whether vinyl, wooden, or plantation shutters.

Paint Exterior vs Interior Shutters

If you have shutters inside or outside your house, the appearance of both can easily be enhanced by adding a freshly chosen color or touching up your older color with a new coat.

The location of your shutters, we’ll aid you in deciding what color will look best depending on the colors in the surrounding area.

Furthermore, you will have to consider what outside and inside elements will come into contact with your shutters daily.

Exterior shutters will generally have to deal with diverse weather conditions of each season, such as snow and heavy rain. In contrast, interior shutters will be subject to dirt, moisture, grease, and dust.

Cleaning your exterior shutters will likely be more difficult as they will sustain more stubborn stains from dead insects, dirt, and more. Bees, wasps and other critters may build nests in behind your exterior shutters, so inspect and be careful when removing or cleaning your shutters.

Unless you have a heritage home from the early 1900’s, exterior window shutters are often purely aesthetic. They give the look of an older home and add character to the architecture of the building. Most window shutters don’t actually close, but if yours do, think twice about removing them – they’re classic.

Therefore, most window shutters are usually screwed to the siding of the home. If you can’t find the screw or nail heads, it’s likely because the holes were filled with wood filler after they were installed. Do your best to look behind the shutters to see where the screws or nails are located.

Quite often, theres one screw centred at the top and one at the bottom of the shutter

Interior shutters, however, will only need some dusting and maybe a quick wipe-over with a sponge and water. 

So, when considering how to paint shutters, the cost of painting an exterior shutter compared to an interior shutter will usually be a lot more expensive.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint Shutters?

Many factors can impact the cost of how to paint shutters, like the style of your shutter, type of material of your shutters, the paint you choose to use, as well as the current conditions of your shutters.

On average, painting per shutter costs are around $40 and $70, and most homeowners are currently paying about $60 per shutter. The expenses include cleaning, priming, and paint louvered for either vinyl or wood shutters.

Keep in mind, if there is a considerable amount of flaking paint or wood rot damage, or issues accessing the shutters, prices can increase dramatically.

The price will decrease significantly if doing it yourself, like around $30 – $45 of the overall cost is labor charges.

Suppose you are painting a Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), a type of plastic, shutter the price range as low as $30 per shutter to prime and paint. But prices can be as high as $150 per shutter, including sanding down the shutter, cleaning, priming, repainting, and batten-style wooden shutters.

Exterior Shutters: Costs include labor charges

Shutter Material Average Cost (Materials + Labor)
Vinyl $40 – $70
Wood $55 – $90
Aluminum $60 – $100

Price to purchase materials and hire a professional to paint exterior shutters.

Interior Shutters: Costs include labor charges

Shutter Material Average Cost (Materials + Labor)
Vinyl $40 – $70
Wood $70 – $100

Price to purchase materials and hire a professional to paint interior shutters

What Paint is the Best for Vinyl Shutters?

What Paint is the Best for Vinyl Shutters

If you want to know how to paint shutters, especially how to paint vinyl shutters, keep reading!

Unlike wooden shutters, oil-based paints will not bond or stick well to a vinyl shutter. They will also peel easily, and as the plastic expands and contracts with varying seasons, it may cause cracks. This is because oil-based paint (aka alkyd paint) dries hard, and unlike acrylic latex paint – is not flexible.

So, the best paint to use on vinyl is latex-based paints.

You can also use spray paints for your vinyl surface, as long as they are formulated to bond well with plastic. Spray paint products such as Rustoleum or Krylon are known to bond well to most surfaces, including vinyl.

? Bear in Mind: Using ordinary enamel spray paint will not bond just like oil paint. Ask the staff in your DIY store for a paint formulated to bond with plastic.

How to Paint Shutters: Vinyl

Vinyl shutters that are becoming faded from the impact of sunlight can either be replaced or repaints but bear in mind replacing shutters can be an expensive job.

If your shutters are warped or cracked, then replacing them is the best option. However, if the paint is just faded or peeling, repainting is the best alternative and keeps the costs down.

Patching up your shutters is a reasonably easy job if you stick to some simple steps that we will lay out below.

Taking down your shutters may be the most difficult and will require an extension ladder, but the tips in this section will help you learn how to paint shutters.

Step 1: Remove the Shutters

Like wooden shutters, the fastest way to complete your vinyl shutter painting job is to detach them.

You may need to use an extension ladder to remove your shutters if they are not reachable when using a step ladder. You’ll need to remove the screws using a drill and safely store the screws, ready to resemble your shutters.

Once removed, place on a drop cloth.

? Hot Tip: If your shutters are different sizes, use a black marker to mark the backside of each shutter. This will make it easier when it comes to reinstalling the shutters.

Step 2: Prepare and Clean

Shutters often accumulate mildew and dirt, so they will need a good clean-up before you consider applying any paint.  

You’ll want to begin with gently scrubbing your shutters with warm soapy water and a clean sponge or scrubbing pad.

✔️ Tip: Usually, you will not need to add any chemicals to remove stains, but if there are stubborn marks, you can add a few drops of bleach to the mix to help with removal.

Vinyl can be cleaned with a garden hose or a power washer as it’s less likely to be damaged with powerful water, unlike wood.

However, if you notice that your shutters have peeling paint, then it’s best that you use a power washer to remove the paint rather than your hose altogether.

Once all loose paint has been removed, gently sand over your surface with 120-grit to 150-grit sandpaper.

Step 3: Prime

Faded vinyl that is in good condition without any peeling paint and usually ok not to be primed.

But if there is any peeling paint after it has been power washed and scrapped, then an exterior bonding primer can be sprayed directly onto the shutters. Applying a bonding primer helps to keep the original layer of the paint intact. One coat of primer is enough.

Step 4: Spray Your Shutters

The best way to apply paint to your shutters is with an airless sprayer. If you have one already at home, then perfect, but most DIY stores or paint stores will rent an airless sprayer for $50 to $75 per day.

Spraying your vinyl should only take around ten minutes- not including drying and cure times in between coats. Spraying your vinyl saves a lot of time while creating a beautiful finish.

With your shutters laying on drop cloth protecting your grass from over-spray and paint drips, you should begin spraying horizontally. You should only need to apply two coats of paint to protect your shutters fully.

You can place your shutters on boards, or buckets, to allow them to dry. This way, they’ll be above the grass.

? Roundup: Remember using an air sprayer is the most effective and efficient way to get your vinyl shutters painters. If you don’t own one, you can usually rent from a paint store for around $50 to $75 per day.

How to Paint Shutters: Wood

How to Paint Shutters Wood

(Professional painters know how to paint shutters, and if you need a painter near you, or professional advice for your painting project call our toll-free hotline at 1-866-PAINT-18 and speak to one of our expert painters.)

Wooden shutters should be repainted even three to five years to protect your wood from outdoor elements. Unlike other materials such as vinyl shutters, shutters made from wood are not water-resistant.

This can cause your wood to rot in a short amount of time as the paint begins to wear down or break down, exposing the wooden surface to moisture.

? Be Mindful: It may be a lot easier to remove your shutters. If you choose not to take them off, you may find it’s harder to paint all areas, so make your decision wisely.

It should be easy to cover working shutters that aren’t just used for decorative purposes, but decorative shutters are attached flush to the wall. Therefore, any metal hardware would need masking to prevent the paint from dripping into the corners of the siding or in between the slats.

? Hot Tip: It’s definitely a lot easy to take down your shutters and then paint over a drop cloth. It will cut down the chance of any paint drips, runs, or spills, or any other unfortunate mistakes. Plus this allows you to clean and paint the siding behind the shutters, especially if your shutters are ornamental and screwed into place.

All six sides of your wooden shutters need to be painted as this will help keep the wood protected and sealed. Remember, you should paint the reverse or back side of the shutter. If not, the moisture may seep behind the shutter causing the wood to rot.

Continue reading below to find out how to paint shutters:

What Paint is the Best for Wooden Shutters?

If you are painting an exterior shutter, then high levels of durability are what you should be looking out for. Oil-based paints are most suitable, as they dry with a more durable finish and adhere to wood surfaces better than water-based paints.


  • Paint stripper
  • Paint scraper
  • Oil-based primer
  • Oil-based exterior paint
  • 120-150-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding sponge
  • Exterior siding cleaner
  • Cleaning pad
  • Drop cloth
  • Nylon Polyester Paintbrush
  • Paint tray

Step 1: Scrape, Sand, and Clean

Preparation is one of the key steps for painting anything, especially when painting with wood.

It would help if you took the time to effectively prepare your shutters. The time you dedicate to this step could be the difference between an ugly, unprofessional finish and a flawless, professional finish.  

You need to remove the old layers of paint, and this can be done using a chemical stripper or a simple paint scraper.

? Key Insight: If you have a power washer, you can use this also to remove the loose, drooping layers of paint. It will remove most of the paint, but scrapping is essential to remove the remaining layers. Make sure to use a 15-degree nozzle.

If your surface is in good condition without peeling paint, you can lightly sand over the wood with a regular orbital sander.

Sanding the surface blunts the gloss from the previous paint, allowing the new paint to adhere to the surface seamlessly. The best sandpaper to use for your wooden shutter is 120-grit to 150-grit. You can also use a sanding sponge which will help to get all the nooks and crannies, such as between narrow louvers.

Now that your area is scraped and sanded down, you’ll want to clean the surface to remove any dust or paint scrapings. You can use either TSP or any other exterior cleaner, spray some onto a fresh, clean pad, and gently wipe over the surface. It will also help to remove any dark spots produced by mildew stains.

Step 2: Prime

Priming always comes down to personal choice, but it’s unarguable that priming a surface allows the paint to perfectly adhere to the surface you are painting.

If your wood is in good condition and you’re just planning to add a fresh coat of paint in the same color as previously used, then generally, a primer is not essential.

You can simply jump to applying your paint, and one to two coats is usually enough.

However, if you find that your wood has bare spots where paint has faded or if you find that harsh weather conditions have affected your wood, then it’s vital to start with a primer.

? Remember: Pick out a high-quality primer that is formulated to stop tannin bleed.

Protect your area, whether indoor floors or your grass outside, with a drop cloth

You want to select a primer that is either oil-based or 100 percent acrylic formulated to stop tannin bleed, which is particularly important when using light-colored paint.

Using oil-based primers are the preferred way how to paint shutters, as they tend to do a better job at sealing the surface from outdoor elements and providing a good surface for the paint to bond to.

Tip: spray painting your window shutters is the fast and most effective way to get the job done with little drips. In this video, Paul from Trusted House Painter shows you why using a primer spray can (such as Zinsser Cover Stain) can save you a lot of time and hassle priming and painting your window shutters, or in this case his louvered bi-fold doors.


Step 3: Paint

Firstly, you want to protect your area, whether indoor floors or your grass outside, with a drop cloth.

? Key Insight: If your shutters are outside, you must be precisely cover your grass with a drop cloth. Over-spray and paint drips will almost immediately kill your grass.

Once your grass or indoor areas are covered, you can lay out your shutters on a drop cloth using another drop cloth. If you have a worktable or surface, you can use, this will make it a little easier.

Make sure your paint is stirred to an even consistency.

Starting with the backside of your shutters, use a high-quality nylon polyester paintbrush and paint following the grain of the wood, working in thin layers for the best application.

If your shutters are solid, then start in the center of the panel and work outwards. If they are slatted, paint the slats first, ensuring there is no paint build-up in the corners.

Store your shutters somewhere safe such as a garage, until they are cured, and then you can put them back up.

Patience is key. This process may take one to two days to be fully completed. If your rush or apply thick coats, it will make the process even longer if you have to scrape tacky paint that is not cured correctly.  

? Extra Info: For extra protection, applying a varnish or acrylic clear coat will help to protect against varying weather conditions.

How to Paint Shutters: Plantation

How to Paint Shutters Plantation

Adding a fresh coat of paint or revitalizing your plantation shutters with a brand-new color can give them a new lease of life without having to spend big money on new shutters.

It’s important to follow step-by-step guidelines to entirely prevent damage to your shutters and create a professional result despite your DIY ability.

The tiny gaps between the louvers and the narrow-like style of some shutters are more suited to spray-painted rather than brushes.

This section on how to paint shutters will guide you through some simple steps to paint your plantation shutters.

What Paint is Best for Plantation Shutters

For plantation shutters, it’s recommended that you use a latex or water-based primer to create an excellent surface for your paint to adhere to.

Once a primer has been applied and thoroughly dried, you can go in with oil-based paint to finish your painting job.


  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer & Pry bar
  • Hook screws
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Tub or container
  • Cloth
  • Feather duster
  • Liquid sander
  • Water-based primer
  • Oil-based paint
  • Drop cloth

How To Paint Shutters – Step 1: Remove Shutters

Carefully unscrew the hinges and detach your plantation shutters from their frames. Plantation shutters are heavy, so if you have someone else at hand that can hold on to them or stores them safely, then this will be a big help.

Now, the shutters have been removed from frames. You can now uninstall the frames from the wall. Do this either by unscrewing them or by removing any nails, using a hammer and pry bar.

You should number each of your shutters on the top edge of your panel so that there is no confusion when you go to reinstall them.

? Remember: Numbering each panel is essential. If you do not put your panels back in their starting positions, you will experience alignment issues.

Even if you are a perfect painter, painting around hooks, knobs, and hinges is not easy and won’t produce a neatly finished paint job. Take time to remove them from each panel making a note of their positions. Store these in a container or tub for later.

? Insight: Remove any hook, knob, or hinge that is rusty, and remove any broken pieces.

How To Paint Shutters – Step 2: Clean

Just with any painting tasks, it’s vital to thoroughly clean your shutters before you apply any primer or paint to the surface.

Take either a dry cloth or feather duster and wipe over your shutters to remove any build-up of dirt and dust.

Carefully inspect your shutters, ensuring are dirt is removed; otherwise, it will impact your paintability to stick to the surface. Once you are happy, take a damp cloth and wipe away any remaining grimes and dust.

Using a liquid sander, deep clean your shutters to get rid of persistent grease. The liquid sander will remove any dirt and grease while also roughening up the surface allowing your primer and paint to adhere to the previous layer of paint.

Allow the shutters to completely dry before moving on to the next steps.

? Round up: If you can purchase a liquid sander, this will cut down the hours of sanding.

How To Paint Shutters – Step 3: Prime

If your shutters are being repainted, then it’s important that you add a primer.

If you have somewhere to hang your shutters so they can swing freely, this will give you easy access to the back and front, making it easier to paint. 

Take out two hook screws and place them at the top of your shutters and attach some string to put them into position.

Shake your primer well until you can hear the metal ball inside the can rattle. When you begin to spray, either spray up and down or side to side and stick to this movement throughout.

Now you are comfortable with your directions, using the spray paint water-based primer to create a matte surface so the paint can stick seamlessly to the shutters.

Again, leave the primer to dry, check the manufacturer’s guidance for dry times before progressing to the next step.

How To Paint Shutters – Step 4: Paint

Making sure you are in a well-ventilated area, protect your floors and walls using drop cloths.

Hold the can around 10 inches away from your shutters and start at an upward angle. As with your primer, chose your direction, whether vertically or horizontally, and slowly begin to apply the spray.

Before you come to a stop, remove your finger from the nozzle. This will help to prevent uneven coverage as well as a streaky drip.  

✔️ Tip: Take out a dry paintbrush and quickly brush over any accidental drips. This will clear up any mistakes.

Repeat these steps until the entire shutter and frames are completely covered. Check your manufacturer’s guidelines for drying times and leave each of them to dry, and move on to the next.

? Don’t Forget: Taking your time to apply thin layers, rather than one thick layer, will look a lot better, so take your time and be patient.

How To Paint Shutters – Step 5: Reinstall Shutters

Now that your shutter has had the correct time completely cure, you can replace the hooks, knobs, and hinges. This would also be an excellent time to reoil your hinges and complete any maintenance checks.

Attach the shutters to their frames with a screwdriver making sure each piece is in the right place. Make sure your shutters are securely attached to the wall.

Conclusion: How to Paint Shutters

Hopefully, this guide will help you when it comes to discovering how to paint shutters. We have provided in-depth steps on how to paint wooden, vinyl, and plantation shutters.

Following out these steps and adding a fresh coat of paint to your shutters can help to enhance your curb appeal while spending a small amount of money.

With all three material types, it is recommended that you remove your shutters before you begin painting. This will make it easier to paint and reach all areas of your shutters with minimal mistakes.

Giving your shutters a deep clean is essential. Removing any dust, dirt, grime, and mildew will help your paint to bond with the surface ideally.

Whether you use a power washer or paint scraper, you must ensure any drooping or peeling paint is completely removed before priming or painting.

Priming always comes down to personal choice, but it is unarguable that priming will roughen the surface. This will allow the paint to adhere to the surface perfectly.

Plantation and Vinyl shutters should be numbered with a black marker or pencil when taken apart. This will help when you reinstall your shutters. If you don’t put them back in the same place, it can cause alignment issues. 

If you want to give your shutters extra protection, applying a varnish or acrylic clear coat will help to protect against varying weather conditions.

And if you’re not sure how to paint your shutters, or don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, use Trusted House Painter’s free online platform to find and connect to local house painters near you

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