Find a suitable work area in which to work on your shutters, like a garage, workshop or outdoors. Place drop cloths or tarps on the floor to catch dust from sanding, and later, any paint drips. Sawhorses are a great tool to use for easy access and mobility when painting your shutters.
Take shutters down by removing the hardware screws with a screwdriver, or ratcheting screwdriver if the screws are hard to remove. Don’t forget to place the screws somewhere safe where they can’t get lost. For second-story or higher shutters, use a ladder to reach them.
Familiarize yourself with basic ladder safety procedures. Be wary of placing the ladder on any slick or uneven spots on the ground. Invest in an adjustable ladder stabilizer and/or have someone hold the ladder for you.
Remove dust and dirt from the shutters with a rag or duster. Clean interior shutters with a sponge or scrub brush, water and mild detergent. For excessively dirty surfaces, such as exterior shutters, clean them with trisodium phosphate (TSP) — a heavy-duty cleaning powder. Dilute the TSP with water according to manufacturer’s specifications. Use a sponge or spray bottle to apply the TSP solution and then wash shutters with a sponge. Spray them down with a garden hose to remove all soap and debris. Wipe them with towels and let them dry completely before proceeding.
Use TSP as directed by the manufacturer. TSP can corrode metal and damage finished wood. Be sure to wear protective eyewear, clothing and rubber gloves.