March 1, 2024

How to Stain Composite Shutters

9 min read
Learn how to stain composite shutters with our step-by-step guide.
A composite shutter being stained with a brush

A composite shutter being stained with a brush

Composite shutters are a popular choice for their durability, affordability and low maintenance. They are made from a combination of wood fibers and plastic, which makes them resistant to rot, insects, moisture and weathering. However, like any exterior surface, composite shutters can fade and discolor over time due to exposure to sunlight, rain and pollutants. To enhance their appearance and protect them from further damage, staining composite shutters can be a great option. In this article, we will be discussing the process of staining composite shutters, along with tips, tricks and best practices.

What is composite material and why it’s used in shutters

Composite material refers to a blend of two or more materials that have different physical or chemical properties. In the case of composite shutters, they are typically made of a combination of wood fibers and plastic. This blend of materials makes composite shutters a desirable option for homeowners, as they offer durability, strength and resistance to elements like moisture and insects. Composite shutters are also typically more affordable than natural wood shutters.

Another advantage of composite shutters is that they are easy to maintain. Unlike natural wood shutters, composite shutters do not require regular painting or staining. They can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth, making them a low-maintenance option for homeowners.

Composite shutters also offer a wide range of design options. They can be customized to fit any window size or shape, and come in a variety of colors and finishes. This makes it easy for homeowners to find a style that matches their home’s decor and personal taste.

Benefits of staining composite shutters

Staining composite shutters offers several benefits. Firstly, it can help to restore the original color and texture of the shutters, making them look like new again. Secondly, staining can protect the shutters from UV rays, rain and other elements that can cause discoloration, warping and cracking. Thirdly, staining can enhance the look of the shutters, adding warmth and depth to the surface. Lastly, staining can also increase the lifespan of the shutters, preserving their quality and value.

Additionally, staining composite shutters can also provide a layer of insulation, helping to regulate the temperature inside your home. This can lead to lower energy bills and a more comfortable living environment. Staining can also make the shutters easier to clean and maintain, as it creates a smooth surface that repels dirt and dust. Overall, staining composite shutters is a cost-effective and practical way to improve the appearance and functionality of your home’s exterior.

Tools and materials required for staining composite shutters

Before starting the staining process, it’s important to gather all the required tools and materials. These include:

  • Staining brush or applicator
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Sandpaper (80-120 grit)
  • Clean cloth
  • Composite deck cleaner
  • Exterior wood stain (oil-based or water-based)
  • Exterior clear coat sealer (optional)

It’s also important to note that composite shutters should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before staining. This will ensure that the stain adheres properly and provides a smooth finish. Additionally, it’s recommended to apply the stain in thin, even coats and to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next. This will help prevent drips and ensure a consistent color. Finally, if you choose to apply a clear coat sealer, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow ample drying time before reattaching the shutters to your home.

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Choosing the right stain for composite shutters

Choosing the right type of stain is crucial for achieving the desired results. There are two main types of exterior stains: oil-based and water-based. Oil-based stains are generally better at penetrating the composite surface and providing a deeper, richer color. They are also more resistant to fading, cracking and peeling. However, oil-based stains can take longer to dry and emit strong fumes. On the other hand, water-based stains are more eco-friendly and have a lower VOC content, making them a better option for those with allergies or asthma. They also dry faster and are easier to clean up. However, water-based stains may not provide the same level of protection and longevity as oil-based stains.

It is important to note that the color of the composite shutters can also affect the final result of the stain. Lighter colored shutters may require more coats of stain to achieve the desired color, while darker shutters may require less. It is recommended to test the stain on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire shutter to ensure the desired color and finish is achieved.

Preparing the surface of the shutters before staining

Before applying any stain, it’s important to prepare the surface of the shutters properly. This involves cleaning the shutters thoroughly using a composite deck cleaner and scrub brush or power washer. The cleaner helps to remove any dirt, mildew, mold or other surface contaminants that can interfere with the adhesion and absorption of the stain. Once the shutters are clean, allow them to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

After the shutters have dried, it’s important to inspect them for any damage or defects. Look for cracks, splits, or other signs of wear and tear. If you find any damage, repair it before proceeding with the staining process. Use wood filler to fill in any cracks or holes, and sand the surface of the shutters to create a smooth, even finish.

Another important step in preparing the shutters for staining is to protect the surrounding area. Cover any nearby plants, furniture, or other objects with plastic sheeting or drop cloths to prevent them from getting stained. You may also want to use painter’s tape to protect any areas of the shutters that you don’t want to stain, such as hinges or hardware.

Cleaning and sanding composite shutters for better absorption of stain

After the shutters have dried completely, you’ll want to sand the surface using a medium-grit sandpaper. This helps to roughen up the surface and create a better bond with the stain. Sanding also helps to remove any leftover dust or debris from the cleaning process. Be sure to sand lightly and evenly, going with the grain of the wood fibers. When you’re done sanding, wipe the shutters down with a clean, dry cloth to remove any residual dust or debris.

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It’s important to note that not all composite shutters are created equal. Some may have a smooth surface that doesn’t require sanding, while others may have a more textured surface that benefits from sanding. Be sure to check with the manufacturer or do a small test area before sanding the entire surface.

In addition to sanding, you may also want to consider using a pre-stain conditioner on the shutters. This helps to even out the absorption of the stain and prevent blotchiness. Simply apply the conditioner with a clean cloth or brush, let it sit for the recommended time, and then wipe off any excess before applying the stain.

Applying the first coat of stain to composite shutters

Once the shutters are clean and sanded, it’s time to apply the first coat of stain. If using an oil-based stain, stir the can well before opening. Dip the staining brush or applicator into the can and apply the stain in long, even strokes, working with the grain of the wood fibers. Be sure to cover the entire surface evenly, without leaving any drips or spots. Alternatively, you can use a paint roller to apply the stain, then use a brush to smooth out any uneven areas. Allow the first coat to dry completely, which can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the type and brand of stain.

After the first coat of stain has dried, it’s important to inspect the shutters for any areas that may need touch-ups or additional coats. Use a light sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots or drips, then apply a second coat of stain in the same manner as the first. Depending on the desired level of color and protection, a third coat may be necessary. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times and application techniques.

Drying time for the first coat and sanding in between coats

After the first coat has dried, you’ll want to check the surface for any rough areas or bumps. If you spot any, use a fine-grit sandpaper (220-320 grit) to smooth them out. Sand lightly and evenly, being careful not to remove too much of the stain. When you’re done sanding, wipe the shutters down with a clean, dry cloth again. Allow the surface to dry completely before applying the second coat of stain.

Applying the second coat of stain to composite shutters

For the second coat of stain, follow the same procedure as for the first coat. Apply the stain in long, even strokes, working with the grain of the wood fibers. Be sure to cover the entire surface evenly, without leaving any drips or spots. Allow the second coat to dry completely, which can take another few hours to overnight.

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Tips for achieving even coverage and avoiding drips or runs in stain application

When applying the stain, it’s important to take your time and work carefully to achieve an even, consistent coverage. To avoid drips or runs, try to remove any excess stain from the brush or applicator before applying it to the surface. Work in small sections at a time, and blend each section smoothly into the next. If you do notice any drips or runs, use a clean cloth to wipe them up immediately before they dry.

Finishing touches: sealing and protecting stained composite shutters

After the second coat has dried completely, you may want to apply a clear coat sealer to protect the surface from further damage. This is an optional step, but it can prolong the lifespan of the shutters and enhance the appearance of the stain. To apply the sealer, use a clean staining brush or applicator in the same manner as for the stain. Allow the sealer to dry completely before reinstalling the shutters.

Maintenance tips for keeping your newly stained composite shutters looking great

To keep your newly stained composite shutters looking great for years to come, it’s important to follow a few simple maintenance tips:

  • Clean the shutters regularly using a soft brush or cloth and mild detergent
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals, power washers or abrasive tools that can damage the surface
  • Inspect the shutters periodically for signs of damage, cracks or discoloration
  • Touch up any areas that need maintenance with a small brush and matching stain or sealer

Frequently asked questions about staining composite shutters

Q: Will staining composite shutters make them look like natural wood shutters?
A: While staining can enhance the look of composite shutters and replicate the appearance of wood grain, they will not look exactly like natural wood shutters due to the composition of the material.

Q: How often do I need to restain my composite shutters?
A: The frequency of restaining will depend on several factors, including the quality and type of stain used, the environmental conditions and the amount of exposure to elements. As a general rule, you might expect to restain your shutters every 2-3 years.

Conclusion: Enjoy the beauty and durability of your newly stained composite shutters

Staining composite shutters can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enhance the look of your home and protect your shutters from further damage. By following the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to achieve professional-looking results that will last for years to come. Remember to choose the right type of stain, prepare the surface properly, apply the stain carefully and maintain the shutters regularly to get the most out of your investment. Enjoy the beauty and durability of your newly stained composite shutters!

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