How To Maintain Plastic Shutters
Plastic shutters come in various forms and the different materials have different maintenance requirements. The good news is that these will generally be minimal – certainly compared to wooden shutters, which need regular attention to make sure they stay waterproof and looking in tip-top condition.
Removing your Plastic Shutters
Prior to cleaning and maintaining you will need to take the shutters down from your house. This is usually very easy: it’s just a question of unscrewing them from the shutter spikes or Rawlplugs that hold them in place. You may need to pop the plastic cap off the head of the screw in each corner first (usually there will only be four).
In some cases they will be fixed with ‘Shutter-Loks’, which are like plastic nails that push through the shutter into a plug in the wall. These will need cutting off, which you can do by sliding a knife or chisel behind the shutter. When it comes to replacing the plastic shutter you will need to drill out the plug and purchase new Shutter-Loks – or else switch them for screws and Rawlplugs. When you have removed your shutters you can clean them and, depending on the material, repaint them.
One of the most common materials for plastic shutters is styrene. Styrene shutters must be painted, but require very little attention afterwards. Eventually, though, you may find that they get dirty, and the sun may fade them. At this stage you may wish to take them down for cleaning and a fresh coat of paint.
Cleaning is simple: just use warm, soapy water with a soft sponge or cloth. You might need a stiff brush to dislodge dirt from the corners. Afterwards, rinse thoroughly. Remove any residual grease using a weak solution of ammonia or white vinegar – one cup per gallon is about right. Once it has dried you should sand the surface lightly with glasspaper to give the paint something to key on, then wipe clean again and allow to dry thoroughly.
If you are starting from scratch with a new shutter you should use a good quality water-based exterior grade primer. Allow this to dry thoroughly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For the topcoat or a repaint, you should use a good exterior timber paint – ideally oil-based, not aerosol or vinyl-based, since these will damage your plastic shutters. Again, follow the instructions with regard to the number of coats and drying times required.
Other plastic shutters are made from vinyl or UPVC. These cannot be painted, since the paint will not adhere properly. The colour is a part of the plastic itself. These require very little maintenance, but over time they may also fade in the sun. In the long run the only solution is to replace them, though they are usually guaranteed for 10 to 15 years. They should occasionally be cleaned with warm soapy water, as above.
Replacing your Plastic Shutters
When you have finished cleaning and repainting your plastic shutters, simply screw them back into the original holes using the same screws. The weight can sometimes make this an awkward process, and it helps to rest the shutter on top of your ladder while you fix the first corner in place. Alternatively, push a nail through one corner to support it while you screw in the others.