This tutorial explains how to paint brand new paintable vinyl exterior shutters and is not intended or recommended for the PVC type of exterior shutters or repainting old exterior shutters. You must have the paint grade shutters for this procedure to work correctly.
First you need to decide whether to spray or brush the paint on with a paint brush. It is recommended that you use a spray system to paint your exterior vinyl shutters, as the result will come out more consistent.
Next is paint selection. There are three basic choices to consider and the choice you make is very personal to you and the style of your home:
- Exterior flat paint
- Semi gloss/satin finish paint
- High gloss paint
Choosing the quality of paint for plastics is different than choosing the paint you would use for painting wood. Whether you are spraying or brushing, I always advise to use relatively inexpensive paints. I recommend this for two reasons. First, you will not have to deal with any moisture issues so the mil thickness of the paint is not important. Secondly, very high quality paints are more globular and intended for use with a roller, which makes the paint too thick for even spraying. Remember that a plastic product is inert and does not absorb or emit moisture vapors so protection from the elements is secondary.
Priming is dependent on the exact type of substrate you will be working with. If the material is a styrene like the Mid-America brand (only color #30) or a high quality copolymer like Alcoa Vintage shutters or other pre-painted product, and if you are using a flat exterior latex paint, you will get excellent adhesion without priming.
If you are using anything other than flat latex, always prime the surface of the exterior vinyl shutters first. The paint supply store will have inexpensive primer (wood primer is fine) and again it does not have to be high quality as it is only to provide adhesion for your top coats of paint.
Follow the directions and pay careful attention to the temperature guideline on the paint can for the best results.
You will need the following items to get started:
- A pair of saw horses (or two large boxes)
- A drop sheet (either plastic or cloth)
- An equal number of cardboard boxes to the number of exterior shutter panels you are painting (the boxes are for storing the freshly painted exterior shutter panels on while drying)
- Paint spray gun or for brushing a two-inch and a half-inch paint brush
- Paper towels or a clean rag
- A respirator if recommended by the paint manufacturer
OK, Picasso time to get to work.
Open louver shutters present a big challenge because of the angle of the slats and resultant difficulty of getting full coverage. If you don't address the space between the slats and you are installing the exterior shutters at eye level or higher, after you install your vinyl shutters unpainted spaces behind the slat will be visible.
If you are spraying, before you actually spray paint on the vinyl shutter use a test area for an even spray pattern and to make certain that the gun is working properly. The side of the cardboard drying boxes will work well for this. To paint louver vinyl shutters, lay the panel face down and begin to spray holding the gun at a forty-five degree angle then aim the nozzle directly into the slat cavity. Spray with even strokes and begin before your paint zone and always follow through your paint zone. Go to the other side and repeat. Always inspect for adequate coverage of paint on the exterior shutter before going to the next stage. While the window shutter is face down it's a good idea to paint the edges to ensure that they will be covered properly. I am always amazed at the missed spots on the edges when I don't do this.
If you are brushing, you will need the small brush for this job. Paint liberally between the slats, making sure to also paint the sides of the slat about one-half inch. Painting the edges with a brush while the exterior shutter is face down is a good plan as well.
Turn the exterior window shutter over. You do not need to wait for the paint to dry as the back side of the exterior shutter is recessed and will not rest directly against the cardboard box.
If spraying, use the same angle of the spray gun as you used on the back side of the louvers and spray into the slat cavity on both sides. Next, go to the bottom edge of the exterior shutter and angle the gun so you can paint the bullnose (the edge of the louver). Hold the spray gun at about a thirty degree angle and spray from one side to the other in even strokes, again overspray your paint zone to ensure the finish is applied evenly. The next step is to go to the top of the shutter and spray the face of the slat. Here you will hold the gun at a ninety degree angle to the slats (perpendicular to the slat), again over spray your paint zone. Re-spray the edges and paint the stiles (vertical rails). Finish with a second coat, inspect, and re-shoot if necessary.
Brushing is fairly obvious and requires little other than using your two-inch brush for the coat of paint. Be sure to inspect the edges of the exterior shutters for full coverage and that you indeed did cover the exterior shutter completely.
Move the freshly painted vinyl shutters onto one of the boxes you set up for the painted shutters to dry and repeat until all of the vinyl exterior shutters are painted.
Shad Storhaug is the founder of ShutterContractor.com and is an expert in providing advice on selecting, measuring, installing, and maintaining exterior window shutters.