the painted surface
How To Paint Vinyl Shutters
Vinyl shutters are often the choice over wood shutters because of durability, lower costs, easier installation and choice of styles. But after a few years the color may not be what you desire so the question arises... Can vinyl shutters be painted? Yes, vinyl shutters can be painted. Through the years it has been my experience that vinyl shutters hold paint very well. I can remember only one set of vinyl shutters where the paint weathered to the point of flaking off the entire shutter in many small pieces. The solution in that case was to sand the old paint off as much as possible with a very coarse grit sandpaper and repaint. Because of the uniformity of the paint failure I actually believe it was a paint quality problem not the fact that vinyl shutters had been painted. These shutters were repainted and after several years are still looking good and holding the new coat of paint very well.
You may see some shutters sold as “paintable” and colored ones as not being recommended to paint. Also available are vinyl shutters from Alcoa and possibly other makers that have a baked on acrylic paint which is repaintable when needed. If you are buying new shutters then buy the paintable type just to be sure. You may not know the original maker of the shutters and whether or not they were intended to be paintable shutters but you want to paint the shutters to change the color or renew their surface. There is no guarantee that every surface will hold paint but the shutters most likely can be painted.
The origin of the shutters pictured here was not known when they were painted in 2002. They were a burgundy or maroon color and the owner chose a dark brown paint color for the shutters which complemented the bricks, roofing and also a change of the exterior trim color. Except for fading the brown paint held up very well, there was no peeling or flaking paint. The fading was the worst on the shutters exposed to the most sunlight which is to be expected. The shutters were repainted in 2013, again the same dark brown color. The paint has a flat finish to avoid the glare glossier paints would show. The choice of sheen - flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss or gloss is of personal taste. All of them should perform nearly equally as well as the other with only slight differences. Flat paints possibly will adhere better and show less glare but may fade quicker and not wash clean as well. Glossier paints will reflect glare and possibly peel easier but wash better when needed or rinse off during rainfall.
Preparing To Paint Vinyl Shutters
Here are some general guidelines and tips for painting vinyl shutters.
- Check carefully for wasps or other insects that may have nested behind the shutter.
- Reattach any loose shuters.
- Before repainting old shutters they should be clean and mildew free. A solution of laundry detergent or TSP(trisodium phosphate cleaner) and chlorine bleach makes a good cleaner to wash away dust, dirt and mildew. Be sure to wear the proper eye and body protection when working with any chemical. A long handle scrub brush can be used to work the solution into corners and scrub the surface. Keep the surface wet long enough for the bleach to work then rinse with clear water. Protect the surrounding area and objects from the cleaning agent.
- Scrape or sand away any loose and peeling paint.
- When the shutter is clean and dry determine if you will need to apply a coat of primer. If repainting a primer will probably not be needed unless the old paint is a oil-based paint and the new paint is latex or acrylic. If so sand the old oil-base coat to remove the gloss and apply a coat of 100% acrylic primer. The primer can be tinted by the paint dealer to closely match the finish color for better coverage. If the shutters are new and have a slick surface then they should also be sanded and primed. Older shutters that have never been painted usually have weathered some and the finish paint should be all that is needed. Priming them would not hurt but may not be absolutely needed. If you have any doubts test the adhesion of the new finish paint in a couple of spots. Repainting over previously painted vinyl shutters that were painted with latex or acrylic paint should not require a primer.
- When painting vinyl siding or vinyl shutters it is usually recommended not to paint them a color considerably darker than the original color. This is to avoid heat build up that could cause warpage.
- Use a 100% acrylic paint. Acrylic paints are durable, resist fading, adhere very well, dry fast and brushes can be washed with soap and water. When dry the paint layer is flexible to expand and contract with the change of temperatures to help prevent peeling and flaking.
- If mildew growing on the shutters has been a problem a mildewcide can be added to the paint. These should be used according to the instructions and safety precautions posted on the product. They generally are effective 3 to 5 years and have mixed results.
- Use a good quality firm but not stiff nylon/polyester blend brush. Some brand names to look for are Purdy, Wooster or Corona. Buying the best brush available will pay for itself by its ease of use, longevity and the ability to apply a better finish.
- Paint in the shade. Vinyl shutters can become very warm if in the sun. Acrylic paints and especially those with low or zero voc's(volatile organic compounds) dry very quickly. Trying to use them on a sunny surface is difficult. Keep yourself and the paint happy - paint in the shade. Be careful not to paint too late in the day that the paint will not have enough time to dry before the possibility of dew falling on the shutter.
- Painting second story shutters might be made easier with the use of a ladder stablilizer which will hold an extension ladder away from the wall several inches allowing easier access to the shutter.
- If the ladder must be rested on the shutter then the use of ladder mitts is recommmended. These are pads placed over the ends of extension ladders to protect the surface the ladder is leaned against. Place the ladder high enough to paint the upper section safely and then move it down to paint the lower section.
- The order of sections in which to paint will vary with the painter but I find it best to paint the top edge first, followed by the sides as far down as I can reach being careful not to leave any heavy spots or runs on the front faces. Then working from the top and inside out I will paint the panel or louvers of the top section and then the face frames feathering the paint as I go to blend into the lower panel. Then I paint the lower section and the bottom edge last. From the painting position of a second story shutter sometimes the top edge of the first story shutter is easily reached and can be painted as you come down the ladder. Use caution when working on any ladder and do not over reach. Remember, ”A three point grip prevents a slip!“. Always have two feet and at least one hand anchored and centered firmly on the ladder.
- If you have trouble keeping the paint off the brick or siding while painting the edges of the shutter use card stock between the shutter and house as you paint. Using a tapered bristle brush may also help as it will more easily leave a straighter edge.
More helpful painting tips, techniques and how-to articles can be found by following these links:
How To Paint a Room ◊ How To Paint a Stairway ◊ How To Paint a Two-Story Room ◊ How To Choose Colors ◊ Six Step Color Choice ◊ Popular Color Ideas ◊ How To Choose Paint ◊ Tools ◊ How To Caulk ◊ How To Patch a Hole ◊ How To Patch a Crack ◊ How To Cut In a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Roll a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Paint Woodwork ◊ How To Paint a Window ◊ How To Paint Baseboard ◊ How To Paint a Door ◊ How To Paint Crown Moulding ◊ How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets ◊ How To Choose a Premium Paintbrush ◊ How To Paint a MDF Bookcase ◊ How To Paint Aluminum or Vinyl Siding ◊ How To Paint Over Faux Finishes ◊ How To Use Magnetic Paint ◊ How To Use FrogTape ◊ How To Paint Repair Water Damaged Drywall ◊ Hiring a Contractor ◊ Paint Stripper Safety ◊ Painting Louvered Shutters ◊ 2013 Color Trends ◊ Choosing Front Door Colors
More details about specific painting subjects are covered in the additional articles. In those will be found details, painting tips and techniques gathered from over 20 years of painting experience. Here is a list of links to the articles: