*I was provided paint from DecoArt for this project. Although they provided the paint free of charge, all opinions are my own.
For years I’ve looked at the front of my house just trying to think of what I could do to give it some life. It’s not in disrepair but it is pretty dang boring. Just look for yourself!
I’ve considered trying some sort of landscape feature but saying I don’t exactly have a green thumb is a bit of an understatement and I just couldn’t think of what would be best. After years of back and forth, I finally decided to go with some shutters. But what style? And what color do I paint them?
I knew the board and batten look didn’t fit the house and I hate the generic louvered shutters. I did some searching and came across some that I loved! The first place I saw them called them Craftsman style. I’ve looked up shutter styles only to see them called a number of names – Arts and Crafts, Framed BnB, Planked Raised Panel, and Shaker. I thought Shaker was the most fitting name for what I was going for. PS, if there are any shutter aficionados out there who can tell me the proper name, I’m all ears. I drew up what I wanted in SketchUp and couldn’t wait to get to building it.
I wanted to reduce the number of visible seams so I made the frame out of 2x4s with 1x boards double stacked on the inside. Several different plank layouts were considered before I decided to go with two 1x4s and a 1×6 in each shutter. I measured the window I wanted them on to determine how tall to make them. Fifty-four inches was the magic number. Just like with anything, there are several different ways to make these shutters. If you didn’t want to use 2x4s, you can double stack 1x boards for the whole thing. There are a few different tutorials out there showing this method. Aside from my dislike for visible seams, I went the route I did because I would have had to buy so much lumber with a lot of waste at the end due to the size of my windows. If your windows are shorter than 48 inches (or you buy boards longer than 8’), the double stacked method would work great. Anyway, just for you, I created free plans on the build process. These are super easy to put together.
Another thing I encountered during the planning process was how I was going to make these last using new, untreated wood. I did some research and found that I could use a wood preserver to make my boards last longer. I knew I was going to paint the shutters so I decided to add an oil-based primer after the preserver to help make them last a little longer. The wood preserver I needed for this project wasn’t as easy to find as I initially thought. Luckily, Amazon came to the rescue again. I ordered this preserver from Amazon.
Let’s get to building!! To build two 54” shutters, I purchased four 2x4s, three 1x4s, and one 1×6 in 8 foot lengths. At my store, it cost me approximately $42. That’s pretty dang reasonable in my book, especially compared to pre-made or professional shutters. Because 2x4s from the box store can sometimes be a bit rough and have rounded corners, I ran them through my planer to shave off a small amount on all sides. Other options are to trim off the edges with a table saw or run them through a jointer. But this step is completely optional. I’ll tell you how I dealt with the new size difference between the planed 2x4s and stacked 1x boards later.
I cut the boards down to size. Because window size varies, your measurements may not be the same as mine. I’ll tell you what cuts stay the same regardless of window size and how to adjust my measurements for your windows. The 2x4s were cut into four pieces at 54” and four pieces at 12 ½”. The long pieces will be the entire height of the finished shutter and should be altered based on your window. The shorter piece will not change. For the 1x boards that make up the planked back, I cut four 1×4 pieces at 47” and two 1×6 pieces at 47”. These cuts will also change based on your window size. To figure out the correct length, simply subtract 7” from the total height of your shutters. The two short 2x4s make up that 7”. The final cuts are two 12 ½” from the remaining 1×4. These cuts will not change.
Now is when I make the adjustment on the 1x boards to account for what I took off of the 2x4s with the planer. I simply ran the 12 ½” 1×4 cuts through the planer and took off the same amount I took off the 2x4s. Easy peasy.
The next step in the process is to make some pocket holes. Obviously, there are many different kinds of joinery you could use for these. I chose pocket holes because they are quick, simple, and easily repeatable by others. For the shutters, I drilled pocket holes on both ends of the short 2x4s and all of the 1x boards. Consider this your warning/reminder – MAKE SURE YOU ADJUST YOUR DRILL BIT COLLAR AND GUIDE FOR THE DIFFERENT WOOD THICKNESSES! That’s always my biggest mistake with pocket holes.
Moving on. Make a frame by attaching two of the long and two of the short 2x4s together using 2 ½” pocket hole screws. Ensure that all of your edges are flush (particularly any edge that will be exposed when the shutters are hung) to make your life easier later.
Next is to attach the short 1×4 to the frame. You can place this piece anywhere you wish but I wanted it centered on the frame. To figure up where it should go is easy. Take the total height of the shutter and subtract 10 ½”. The 10 ½” accounts for the width of the two 2x4s and the 1×4. You’ll then divide that number in two. This number is what you should have on each side of the divider. For my shutters, that number was 21 ¾”. I marked that number on the frame from the bottom side of the short 2×4 and lined the top of the divider with that line. I then screwed it in place using 1 ¼” pocket hole screws.
Before you screw in the back planks, it’s time for some fun. I don’t know about you guys, but I love using my palm router. Well…I don’t much care about how hot it gets after a while but other than that, it’s amazing. Using a chamfer bit (looks like a V and makes an angled cut on the edge), I ran the router around the inside of the frame on the front and the planks.
On the planks, I did it on both edges of the front of the 1×6 and on only one edge of the 1x4s. This will make more sense later. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you do this on the side of the planks without the pocket holes.
Give the frame and the planks a good sanding then attach the planks to the frame. You may need a rubber mallet to help get the planks inside the frame. The 1x4s go on the outside with the chamfer facing to the middle. The 1×6 will go in the middle. Attach them to the frame with 1 ¼” pocket hole screws.
You’re all done! …with the assembly process… When you flip the shutter over, you’ll see that the chamfers you cut give the shutters a tongue and groove appearance and some visual interest. You don’t want a chamfer cut on both sides of the 1×4 because then it wouldn’t be flush against the frame of the shutters. Repeat this process for your second shutter (or however many more you have to do).
Before I did any painting, I applied the wood preserver. I had to do it inside because of rain but I was surprised to find there was really no smell with the preserver. Apply it according to the directions on the can. For the product I bought, it said to apply it liberally and allow to dry for at least 24 hours before painting. (You know when you thought you took a picture of something only to find out you didn’t? This is one of those times.)
Now is when I get real with you guys. I know blogs always make you think the builder never has any errors. Well I have plenty. For example, I put some screws straight through the front of one of the shutters because I misjudged my pocket hole guide. Anyway, this mistake took me over a day to notice. And I had already put the wood preserver on it.
See it? I put the divider on one shutter in the wrong spot.
I didn’t measure from the correct starting point. While it would have been easy to just move it, that wasn’t an option here. Since I had already ran the router around the shutter frame, the adjustment wouldn’t have lined up correctly with a flush transition from frame to divider. I had to go buy two more 2x4s and repeat the process to attach them. Such is life.
When the preserver was dry, I filled any cracks, knots, and joints with wood filler.
I also ran a line of caulk in all of the seams between the planks and around the inside of the frame. Caulk hides a multitude of building sins.
You’ll want to make sure whatever you choose is 100% waterproof and paintable (if you are painting). Color doesn’t matter because you’ll be painting over it. I prefer the squeeze tubes as opposed to the kind you have to use with a caulking gun.
Whichever route you go, you need to cut the tip off at a 45 degree angle.
As you apply the caulk, run your finger or a wet rag along the line to smooth it out and make it look nice. If you wet your finger, it makes it easier. I obviously didn’t do that and made a mess.
If you are going to be staining, save this step for later and go ahead and stain. When the stain is dry, use a clear caulk to fill your seams.
After the caulk and wood filler dried, I sanded it down to smooth then applied primer. I brushed on two coats of primer over both sides of the shutters. While I thought I picked up oil-based primer, I actually got water-based. I wasn’t in a position to go get more so I just went with it.
It was so exciting to see color on these even if it was just primer white.
Now for the fun stuff – the final color! Years ago, I painted my front door navy blue. It’s been one of my favorite updates. The other colors of the outside of the house are rather boring so I was leaning toward blue for my shutters. I was concerned that it wouldn’t look very good, though, especially when it was competing with the vibrant red of the brick. I searched for pictures of blue shutters on red brick houses and decided that it would be okay.
Last year when I attended the Haven Conference, DecoArt had a booth there. I love DecoArt paint. It’s my go to acrylic paint for signs and smaller scale décor. While at the conference, I was introduced to their Curb Appeal line. It’s specially designed for front doors and shutters. One bottle of paint is supposed to be enough to do at least two coats of paint on your front door. Because I wanted to stick with blue, I chose New England Navy.
DecoArt sent me two bottles of paint for this project so that I could paint the shutters and freshen up my front door to match them.
Using a foam brush, I applied the paint. I loved it from the first swipe.
I did three coats of paint on the shutters to cover all of the white primer.
What I love most about acrylic paint is how fast it dries. I was able to get these completely painted in no time. When the front and sides were finished, I flipped them over and painted the edges of the back to in case any of it happened to show once the shutters were attached to the house.
If you put on several coats, you’ll want to give the shutters plenty of time to cure before handling them too much. To give myself an added layer of protection, I sprayed them down with a glossy clear coat.
Installing them may possibly be the hardest part of this process and it’s really not that difficult. To hang them on a brick façade, you’ll need a hammer drill, masonry drill bit, and concrete anchors (concrete screws).
You will need two people to hang them. I don’t have a whole lot of pictures of this process because it was all hands on deck. One person will need to hold the shutter in place while the other ensures they are level and positioned correctly. That person will then mark where to drill the holes. I recommend drilling into the mortar as opposed to the brick. If the need arises later to refill the holes, it’s much easier to repair mortar than replace a brick. This might mean that your holes are not perfectly positioned but that’s okay. Using a speed square, you can line it up on your mortar joint and mark 1 ¾” into the front of the shutter from the side for your screw holes.
We found that the masonry bit would not go through the wood well so we drilled through the shutter with a wood bit first then switched to a masonry bit to go through the mortar.
After that, screw in your concrete anchor. You can use an impact driver for this part.
I did some touch up paint around the screws then I was done! I love them so much!
I actually keep doing a creepy stalker slow drive by each time I come or go from my house just so I can stare at them. It’s hard to believe what a difference less than $50 in lumber can make.
Because we always love before and afters around here…
Once the shutters were installed, I applied a couple coats to my front door. Since I was painting over a blue door with blue paint, I didn’t think it would make much difference. I was wrong. You can see the difference in the paint mid progress.
The paint went on so smoothly and dried so fast that this part of the project was finished in no time. I’m pretty sure it took me longer to remove the hardware, sand and clean the door, and tape of the trim than to put two coats of paint on. Seriously. Here’s the before and after of the front door.
(And for you detail oriented people out there, yes, I fixed up the wreath. It was looking mighty sad.)
They look so good with the front door painted to match. It was meant to be, y’all.
What inexpensive upgrade of you done to your home that made a big impact?