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I have vinyl shutters and they're terribly faded. They're the "louver" style. Can they be repainted? If so, what type of paint should be used?
Yes, you can repaint them. First, wash them thoroughly with a detergent that contains a bleach or acid-based mildew killer to remove all traces of both dirt and mildew. There are various premixed products available at your local hardware store that will do the job, or you can use TSP and add bleach to it. Allow the shutters to dry and then lightly sand them with a 120 grit sandpaper to slightly rough up the surface for better paint adhesion.
My choice would be to use an exterior latex paint for your finish coat. Applying a latex primer is not absolutely necessary but it is a nice security blanket and will undoubtedly help the finish paint to stick even better. Generally, primers are used to even up the absorption of the finish coat by sealing the surface. Since vinyl is not porous this "prime"ary function of the primer is not needed. However, it should be noted that one other quality of primers is that they are cling more tenaciously to surfaces than finish paints. So if you don't mind the extra work, priming first is not a bad idea.
Two other things... it can be helpful to tint the primer to match the finish paint, especially if you are making a significant color change. Also, have the paint store add a package of exterior-grade mildewcide to the finish paint. Unfortunately, most modern paints and stains do not resist mildew very well "out of the can".
Be careful with your cleaning methods if you plan on painting the shutters while on the house! The cleaning process can leave streaks on the siding from the cleaning product runoff. Your choices are to take the shutters down, clean the entire house or get the siding very wet before using the cleaner so that there is less likelihood of drip marks.
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