To Thine Own Self Be Blue - Painting Shutters Tutorial

2 Materials
2 Days

Does your home’s exterior need some freshening up? Repainting your shutters can make a big impact and it can be done in a weekend with an HVLP sprayer. Follow my tutorial as I give my shutters new life with General Finishes Klein Blue Milk Paint.

Sometimes the hardest part of a painting project is picking out a color. I had recently repainted the front door in Klein Blue and loved it. But I wasn’t sure if blue shutters would be too much. Maybe I should go with gray…or keep them black? Part of the house is brick and part is siding, so the color needed to look nice on both. I debated for months.

I found one of those online tools where you upload a picture of your house (or room, whatever you are painting) and change the colors. There are several free ones available and boy, are they handy. Wow, now I could visualize my house with blue shutters! I tried a few other colors but KIein Blue was the clear favorite.
Label each shutter
The next big hurdle was getting my hubs to take the old ones down. A huge ladder and a little cussing was involved, but “we” (ha – I held the ladder) got them off the house. I had already printed a picture of the house and gave each window a number. As the shutters came down, I used a paint pen to label each one with the window number and “L” or “R” so we could put them back in the same spot and on the correct side of the window.  
My improvised paint rack
As you can see, these vinyl shutters realllly needed to be painted. Some people might have been tempted to just buy new shutters, but ours were still in great shape, just needed a little TLC. After I gave them a good scrubbing, I was ready to roll.

Hand painting shutters would take forever, so I got out my HomeRight Finish Max HVLP sprayer for the job. It is lightweight, doesn’t require an air compressor, and I feel like it’s “just my size.”  My husband rigged me up a paint rack so I could paint 5-6 shutters at a time.
Blue, blue, blue!
Weather considerations: The weather should be an important consideration when planning to spray outside. Experts vary a little but most recommend painting when the temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees F with humidity less than 85%. The day I painted, it was sunny out but not blistering, about 83 degrees with a slight breeze. The humidity level was between 40-50%, which is pretty ideal. 

One should also consider how much the wind is blowing. A gentle breeze is good, but anything stronger will cause dust and debris to potentially ruin your freshly painted surface. It is not recommended to paint in direct sunlight as uneven drying can cause wrinkling. Finally, if your project is outside, time your last coat so it can dry before nighttime dew sets in. 
Keep the sprayer tip clean
Okay, moving on, I opened up the Klein Blue paint and made sure it was stirred up well. I used the included viscosity cup to see if the paint needed to be thinned for best results with the sprayer. It did not, so off I went! Before I began spraying the shutters, I found some cardboard and did a few test shots on it. The paint came out smoothly and evenly with a compact spray pattern, meaning less overspray.

When using a paint sprayer, it’s important to keep an eye on your spray tip. Trying to spray paint out of a gunked-up nozzle will only cause frustration, so make sure you stop every little bit to clean the tip with the little brush that is included. I had to do this several times over the course of this project.

General Finishes Milk Paints are self-sealing and don’t require a topcoat, but you can extend their performance by doing so. GF recommends Exterior 450, which contains UV stabilizers to minimize fading outdoors. And it dries fast! 
Touch up the screw heads
Mistakes. Now, I’m going to admit that I did a couple of things wrong here. Since the shutters were up off the ground, I found myself stepping “under” them as I reached across to paint. This led to a bit – okay, a lot – of overspray on ME. Since this is only my second time using a sprayer, I have since learned that overspray is usually caused by one of two things – being too far away from the surface or moving the gun too fast. I kinda think I was guilty of both. But life is all about learning, and that was my lesson for the day.

Final Steps. The last phase in my shutter transformation was getting them back up onto the house and covering the screws with the same paint. My husband and stepson actually reattached the shutters before I got home from work one day. What a great surprise and I loved it! I went back and painted over the silver screw heads with the Klein Blue so they would blend in.
"To Thine Own Self Be Blue"
And here is how it all looks afterwards! I love that the color is a little bit unexpected because it’s such a vivid blue. Don’t be afraid of color – do something a little different than the guy down the street. 

Read more on the blog link below.
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Lori Haught Harper

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Carol
    on Oct 4, 2018

    Really nice job Lori. I could use that free program so I can decide what colors to use on my house. If you reply to this comment, could you send me me the web address for the free program? I am at a total stand still in what colors I want to use! Thank you so much for sharing your project.

    • Marcella Frederick Coe
      on Sep 26, 2019

      The shutters look stunning!! You did a beautiful job!! This was meant to be a comment but somehow I ended up in a reply to a comment. Hope you see my compliment. Thanks for posting the website where you can upload a picture of your house.

  • Mary Arguelles
    on Oct 15, 2018

    I don't understand about numbering shutters. When you paint them doesn't the number get covered over? Do you put a small piece of tape over it and then remove after painting? I want to paint my kitchen cabinets and remove my doors, but I am puzzled about how to number.

    • Lori Haught Harper
      on Oct 3, 2019

      Not everyone numbers their doors, but I personally think it's a good idea because over time they can get slightly warped. By numbering them and the accompanying hardware, everything fits back properly.

  • Heather Rae
    on Sep 25, 2019

    What site did you got to to upload your pictures to try out various colors?

Join the conversation

4 of 67 comments
  • Sassycoupleok
    on Sep 26, 2020

    Amazing what a little paint will do for accent trimming like your shutters even if just refinishing them or adding shutters. My husband and I added shutters and painted them to match the front door and garage door. He then added non functional hinges and bolt heads for accent to coincide with the garage door.

    Ms. K

  • Marjoycek
    on Sep 27, 2020

    Looks great! We are planning to do the same thing,but have run into a snag. My husband and I think we can get them down ok,gravity is on our side,lol But not sure about getting them back up. Especially as we are both older and he's had rotator cuff surgery. But seeing yours makes me really want to get it done. I've just got to hire someone to help out then back up.

    • Lori Haught Harper
      on Sep 28, 2020

      Thank you - so glad you are feeling inspired! I hope you can find someone to help you out so you can make it happen!

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