How to Paint Vinyl Shutters

Robert Korpella

Plastic shutters take a beating from the weather and from sunlight’s ultraviolet rays. Eventually, shutters fade and oxidize, leaving behind dull colors with a chalky residue. Stains left behind from activities such as attacking wasps and hornets with insecticide are even more evident against the faded background.

Vinyl shutters on a suburban house.

But you can breathe new life into old vinyl shutters with some preparation and the right paint.

A Thorough Cleaning

A good scrubbing with warm water and a liquid detergent -- such as dish soap or car wash -- removes the residue build up and should take care of most of the stains. Give the shutters a deep cleaning with scrub brushes tough enough to get into all the molded details without scratching the plastic. If the shutters have developed mold or mildew, a four-to-one solution of water and bleach will alleviate the problem. Allow the shutters to dry completely before painting.

Consider Priming

Primers create a better surface on which final coats of paint can bond, while the primer itself adheres well to the surface to be painted. Choose a latex primer that specifically says it is formulated for vinyl. You can skip this step if you elect to use a finish paint designed for vinyl. Some manufacturers offer products that are both a paint and primer. These can also work well provided they are formulated for adhesion to vinyl.

Good Quality Paint

Choose a quality paint product for the top coats. Select a latex paint designed for vinyl, such as acrylic urethane, if you decided not to prime the shutters first. Otherwise, select an acrylic latex paint for the top coats. You can either brush the paint on, or spray it. Brushing may require a couple of coats as latex paints shrink when they dry, leaving behind voids. Apply spray paints in several light coats for full coverage. Allow the first coat to dry completely before adding another coat of paint. For sprays, you need only wait a minute or two, but brushed paints typically require a longer drying time.

A Few More Tips

After washing the shutters but before painting them, keep the shutters in the shade or in a cool, dry environment. Paint does not perform very well when applied on hot surfaces. The ideal time to paint is when air temperatures are between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the shutter is not hot to the touch. When choosing a new paint color, make sure you do not select a darker color than was originally molded into the shutter. Dark colors absorb heat more readily, which may be increase the temperature beyond that which the shutter was made to withstand.