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6 Simple Steps to Install Shutters on Vinyl Siding

Have you been thinking of upgrading your vinyl siding without tearing it out? Shutters can help. They are inexpensive and will boost your home’s curb appeal in an instant.

You do not have to be a pro to install shutters on vinyl siding; depending on the number of shutters you are looking to install, you can complete this project in half a day or less. All you need is a few basic tools, a helper, and a little time to give your home a new fresh look.

This article will take you through a step-by-step process to install shutters in your vinyl siding. I have also included a few tips to help you along. So, let’s get started!

Tools Needed for Installing Shutters on Vinyl Siding

  • Shutters (preferably vinyl)
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Drill and appropriate drill bits
  • Shutter screws
  • Ladder

Step-by-Step Guide to Install Shutters on Vinyl Siding

Follow these simple steps to install exterior shutters on vinyl siding and give your house a new lease of life.

Step 1: Measure your windows

Before your purchase shutters, be sure to get the correct window measurements. You don’t want to buy short or extremely long shutters. The perfect shutters will be more or less the same height as your window.

Use a tape measure and note the height of your window.  If you are installing shutters between two windows, measure the space between them to buy shutters of the right width to avoid overlapping.

Pay attention to the width of the shutter too. It should be neither too narrow nor too wide, as this will make your home’s exterior appear awkward. Even though they serve a purely aesthetic function, opt for shutters that would cover the window glass.

Step 2: Check for the right screw length

Check for the right screw length

Aside from buying the right size shutters, you also need to purchase the appropriate screws.

A common mistake that comes up in this project is using short screws that cannot keep the shutters attached to the siding.

You need to use screws that can accommodate the thickness of the shutter and siding. To do this, measure the thickness of your shutters and siding lap.  The lap is the part where two vinyl panels overlap. Place your tape measure at the bottom of one side panel to measure the lap.

For the right screw length, add the shutter thickness to the lap thickness, then add ½ inch. The resulting figure is the screw length you should buy to attach shutters to the siding securely.

Step 3: Drill pilot holes in the shutters

Drill pilot holes in the shutters

If your shutters do not come with pilot holes, you will have to drill them yourself.

Instead of attempting to push the screws through the shutters and siding, it is best to drill pilot holes through which you can put the screws. Your shutters risk breaking if you do not pre-drill screw holes.

The best position for drilling the holes is at the four corners of the shutter, the center of both vertical sides, and the top and bottom panels. This will secure the shutter to the siding.

Place the shutter next to the window and mark the points on the shutter where you will drill the holes. Use a spirit level to check it is positioned correctly on either side of the window.

Next, position the shutter on a horizontal workstation and drill holes to accommodate 3-inch shutter screws.

Pro tip: Use a drill bit slightly larger than the thickness of the screws. This ensures that the screws fit snugly in the pilot holes and hold the shutter firmly.

Step 4: Drill holes in the siding

Drill holes in the siding

After drilling holes in the shutter, you want to pre-drill holes in the siding to make it easy to insert the fastening screws.

Hold the shutter against the edge of the window, and leave a ½ inch space between the two. The space is essential to allow the shutter to expand and contract with temperature changes.

Position the shutter exactly where you want it to go. It is good to have another person help you with this. One of you can hold it in position, and the other can use a pencil to mark drill spots on the siding using the pilot holes you have created on the shutter. Use a spirit level to check the shutter is positioned correctly on either side of the window.

Use a drill bit about ¼ inches larger than the size of the screw and drill 2 inches deep into the siding. The respective width and depth of the pilot hole will make it less cumbersome to insert screws through the siding. Pre-drilling also protects the siding from breaking when pierced with a screw.

When drilling siding, place the drill bit at the center of the panel’s rib, which is easier to penetrate. Avoid drilling the siding’s profile as it is thicker, harder to penetrate, and can cause breakage. The screws may also wobble and sit loosely, which is no good for the shutter.

Be sure to drill into the studs behind the siding. Screws inserted between studs will eventually come loose, causing the siding to break and the shutter to fall.

Step 5: Install spacers

Install spacers

I recommend using spacers between the shutter and siding for extra protection against breakage. This step is not mandatory but if you want to be extra careful with your siding, using spacers is a smart choice.

When buying shutters, you can add spacers to your purchase. You will need to cut the spacers to the thickness of the lap and pre-drill holes the same size as the pilot holes drilled in the shutters.

Align the spacer and shutter pilot holes. Apply a small bead of silicone caulk to attach the spacers to the shutter. Allow the caulk to dry for 10 minutes for the spacers to stick to the shutter.

 Step 6: Attach the shutters

Attach the shutters

With the shutters and siding pre-drilled and ready, you can now mount the shutters.

Position the shutter to align its pilot holes with the holes in the siding. There should be a ½ inch space between the shutter and edge of the window.

Have someone else hold the shutter in position as you drive screws into the holes. Use a spirit level to check the shutter is positioned correctly on either side of the window.

Be sure to set the screw gun to an appropriate depth. Ideally, it is best to insert the screws about two inches deep, take or leave. Don’t drive the screw too deep into the siding; the excessive pressure can break or warp the shutter. Finally, apply the screw cap for a finished look.

Repeat this process with all the other shutters to beautify your home’s windows.

Pro tip: Apply a bead of silicone caulk between the siding and spacers before fastening the shutters with screws. The caulk acts as a moisture barrier between the shutter and siding, preventing potential water damage to your walls.

Congratulations on installing shutters on your vinyl siding! You can now sit back and enjoy the sight of your gorgeous windows or door! Before you go, check out these quick tips to help you get the most from this fun project:

Extended Tips

  • Take your time to find the right shutters for your home. You have plenty of options, and your choice will depend on whether you are looking for functional, aesthetic, or shutters that serve both purposes.
  • Opt for vinyl over wood. Shutters have traditionally been made from wood, but vinyl shutters stand up better to the elements and will not crack, peel, fade or rot easily. The best part is there are vinyl shutters that closely mimic real wood.
  • Put some thought into the color choice. Shutters look best in a contrasting color to the siding, but those in a darker or lighter shade of the siding color will still look attractive.
  • If you want to remove and replace old shutters, do not pull or pry them out, as this will damage your siding. Instead, use a pair of snips or hacksaw to cut the fasteners holding the shutter to the siding.
  • Break up any small remaining pieces of old fastener with a small drill and pull out any remaining pieces. Fill the older holes with silicone caulking if you won’t use them to install the new shutters.
  • You can paint vinyl shutters to your desired color. But first, you will need to apply primer to condition the surface of the shutters. Wait for the primer to dry as instructed before applying paint. For the best results, use exterior latex or oil-based paint.
  • Use galvanized screws as they are corrosion resistant. But, you should also check with your local building codes to find out if you need to use additional fasteners to install shutters on vinyl siding.

Summary: How To Install Shutters on Vinyl Siding

Shutters are small additions that can make a big difference to your home’s exterior.  The secret to beautiful shutters is choosing the right color and size and positioning them squarely to compliment the length of your windows or doors.

By pre-drilling holes in the shutters and siding, you will prevent breakage and take the hassle out of driving in the fasteners. With the right tools and a little help, you can have like-new windows or doors in no time.

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