The slow progress on our home has continued with an exterior update. When we purchased the house last year, we were fortunate enough to find something move-in ready. Any updates are aesthetic or a way to personalize the space. Earlier in the spring, we paid to have the outside of our house power washed. It instantly refreshed the siding and the windows. It also helped us decide what we needed to paint shutters.

At first, we weren’t sure what state everything would be in after it was washed. I was pleased to see that the shutters weren’t brittle or broken. They had simply faded in the sun. The power washing left us with the perfect surface to repaint. (It saved us about $70-100 per shutter if we tried to replace them with a similar product).

Ideally, I wanted to keep them red. It goes well with the dark gray door and suits the time the house was built. One of my biggest peeves is when people add random design elements that don’t honor the house’s history. (Although the recent history of 90s style can be hard to capture).

Instead of going with the blue-red of the original shutters, I opted for a rust tone that picked up the colors from our Magnolia tree. The underside of the leaves are a beautiful brownish-red.

Learning How to Paint Shutters

I don’t propose to know the best way to paint shutters. I’ve actually done very little exterior paint work myself. But, I have ghostwritten enough articles for paint and home improvement brands to know the top mistakes.

Top Exterior Paint Mistakes

  • Using the wrong brush
  • Not checking the type of surface paint
  • Not prepping the surface
  • Putting on the paint too thickly
  • Painting at the wrong temperature and humidity

I wanted to paint them on the side of the house if at all possible. I was afraid that if we took them down, we would have trouble getting them back up. Ideally, we didn’t want to replace hardware or risk replacing any pieces on such an old set. This meant I needed a careful, methodical painting process to avoid drips and uneven patches.


We had already power washed the shutters so, they only needed a light wipe-down before I started. We selected an exterior paint and tested it on a small section. You could see the paint soak into the porous plastic. Good to go!

I broke up the work into three days. On the first day, I did a very light coat with two different brushes. I started with a small 1-inch wide brush to do the sides and the curves. Then, I used a bristle brush to do the first coat.

I moved slowly across the surface and spread it as thin as possible. The paint had good coverage but, I wanted to ensure zero drips. I started early in the morning and finished before noon. That way, I wasn’t applying paint during the humid and hot part of the day.

On the second day, I carefully applied a second coat all over. I was careful to apply it thinly and evenly. This also took me about four hours because I moved slowly to avoid any drips

On the third day, I did a few touch-ups to ensure a smooth surface. Most people who see them think we took them down and spray painted them. But, I actually just stood on a ladder for the entire project.

Home Inspiration

They’ve been up for almost two months and they still look just as good. No peeling, flaking, or weeping paint from underneath. Thankfully, I shouldn’t have to do this ever again. That classic red color won’t ever go out of style.

My home projects go slow but, you’ll like them if you prefer thrifty, high quality home projects. If you enjoyed this practical makeover, check out my Pinterest profile.