Painting Shutters with Milk Paint

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Have you wondered how to paint wood shutters? I will walk you through the process and give you tips for easier painting.

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A couple of months ago, I went to Tennessee with Mr. SLH. It’s always a pleasure to go to the south when New York is in the midsts of a deep winter. Seeing something as simple as green grass is a novelty.

Anyway, while we were in Tennessee, I did some “picking” for items to sell here in New York. One of my finds was a pair of vintage wooden shutters.

Project Before

As you can see in the photo above, they were grimy. They didn’t look very appealing but I thought they had potential. I liked that they were tall and narrow as well as the cute little porcelain knob on each pair of shutters. Another selling point is that these shutters were structurally sound. None of the slats were loose or needed to be repaired. So, let me walk you through the steps I took for painting shutters.

Painting Shutters with Milk Paint

I am always on the look out for doors, windows and shutters I can use in my antique booth. I find that these authentic pieces bring life to a room and are great for displaying items. For example, shutters are a great way to display wreaths, paintings, garlands, and more. It’s easy to attach hooks or even push pins to their wooden surface. When I stumbled across the shutters, I thought they would be great for these uses.

Step 1: Clean and Sand

When the weather warmed up a bit, I used a bucket filled with Krud Kutter and warm water to give the shutters a good cleaning outside. Using a scrub brush, I cleaned the front slats and the back slats. This took more time than anticipated because each slat had to be individually scrubbed clean.

Let the shutters completely dry before moving on to the next step – sanding.

Even with scrubbing and sanding, the shutters were greatly improved. I used a random orbital sander on the outside frame and then hand sanded each of the slats. Note, this required only scuff sanding and not sanding down to the wood.

scrubbing clean

After the shutters were sanded, I scrubbed them down once more to ensure all the dust was removed and they were clean. Using a scrub brush helped me clean in between each of the slats.

If you look in the background and into the garage, you can see the antique pine blanket chest that was recently refurbished.

Once again, I waited for the shutters to completely dry and then I took them inside.

Step 2: Painting the Shutters

Now the fun part! Let’s paint! I mixed up MMS Milk Paint in the color Aviary, which is one of my favorites. Aviary is part of the Stormy Skies collection. It’s a mercurial color that is either blue or grey, depending upon the light.

If you purchase some milk paint using the link above, use code 10OFFSH to save 10%.

After covering the work surface, I laid the shutters down flat and started painting.

Applying paint

This is how they looked as I started to apply the first coat of paint.

First coat of paint

Here is a photo of the shutters after the first coat of paint was applied.

Some TIPs for painting the shutters.

  • I used a flat head screw driver to ensure paint did not build up in-between the slats. After each coat I quickly ran the flat head screw driver under each slat to clear up any paint build up.
  • Remove all the hardware – such as the knobs and latch before painting. (The hinges remained attached. )
  • The shutters required two coats of paint.
  • A 20 oz bag of milk paint provided plenty of paint for this project.
  • Before applying the second coat of paint, I wiped down and removed any drip marks that developed on the backside of the shutter. Particularly those drips that were associated with the slats.

When the shutters were completely dry, I lightly sanded them with 220 grit sand paper to give them a light distressing. Then I sealed both sets of shutters with some clear milk wax.

It’s important to note, I am only using these shutters inside. I won’t be installing them outside. If you decide to use shutters outside, I would recommend sealing them with a waterproofing agent.

Step 3: Enjoy your Shutters

Painting Shutters

Can you see what I mean about the color? Aviary changes from blue to grey and then shifts back again, depending upon the light. There is entire blog post about this resin rabbit that I used as a spring center piece.

painting details

In the photo above, you can see the details of the paint and how it looks when lightly distressed with the 220 grit sandpaper.

Painting Shutters 2

The photo above conveys the height and narrowness of the shutters and you can see the little porcelain knobs.

I think the shutters look so much better now that they have been painted and I can’t wait to bring them to the booth. They are definitely cleaner!

Painting Shutters

Here is one final photo. Thank you for stopping by the blog today! I hope you are inspired to find some shutters and transform them into something useful and pretty.

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  1. Wow! Your shutters make such a fabulous backdrop for that adorable bunny! I can think of so many of my home decor items that would look fabulous sitting in front of shutters like that! Thanks for the inspiration! Pinning for future reference! Thanks, Donna

    1. Hi Donna –
      Thank you for the kind words and feedback. The bunny was painted with MMS milk paint – so thank you for saying it was cute. I love your blog! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on mine.

  2. The shutters you found are pretty unique – I love that they are so tall! Aviary is a gorgeous color – it’s one of my faves! Pinned!

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