Last year while we were all hunkered down at home, like so many of you, we decided that there was no time like the present to tackle all of those outstanding home improvement projects that have been hanging out on our list for way too long. And there were a lot. We ended up diving into so many projects, in fact, both big and small, that the pics, tutorials and finished project reveals have been piling up for almost a year, leaving us with tons of projects to share with you guys here in the coming months! So get ready for some home improvement madness because it. is. coming. First up are our board and batten shutters!
DIY Board and Batten Shutters
Today’s DIY home improvement project, our DIY spaced board and batten shutter project, is one that we actually had a lot of fun doing and one that didn’t cause too many headaches, which we count as a big DIY win! Ya never know what kind of hurdles a home improvement project will throw at you when you’re tackling it for the first time, but much to our surprise and delight, we emerged from this one relatively unscathed. And on the difficulty scale, with the right tools, this DIY project is pretty easy to tackle with two people and a little bit of time. Bonus – it’s definitely a very affordable alternative to buying prefabricated shutters or hiring a carpenter to make and install them for you.
The reason this project was on our list in the first place was because our old black shutters were warped and starting to come apart in some places, and we were having the exterior of our house repainted, so we figured that there was no better time to give the entire exterior a refresh, shutters included. At first we thought we’d just make new black shutters, but after we took them off and saw old gray/tan exterior color underneath the shutters… in the shape of the shutters… it inspired us to think a little lighter, which is how we ended up choosing the best neutral, warm gray on the planet, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, darkened by 60% to give it a little bit more contrast against our home’s exterior white color, Sherwin Williams Alabaster! And we couldn’t be happier with what we ended up with. Eventually, we’d love to update our front door and do a stained wood Dutch door to give the exterior some more warmth, and soon we’ll be adding new stained wood rocking chairs to the front patio as well. We’re loving where it’s going and can’t wait to get the chairs in and update the door down the road to finish our exterior project off!
The difference between standard Agreeable Gray and when it was darkened by 35%, 50% and finally 60% is somewhat slight (see images below), but if you look closely you’ll notice that darkened by 60%, Agreeable Gray has just the right amount of contrast against a white shade like Alabaster, while maintaining the integrity of the tone. Darkened, Agreeable Gray didn’t turn blue or purple or go too far off of its original tone, which was such a pleasant surprise because darkening or lightening any paint color can be a little bit of a gamble. You may just end up with a completely different color on your hands when all is said and done, which isn’t what we wanted. Count this experiment as another win!
Ok so here’s the deal with shutters or decorative shutters like these (meaning they don’t actually close over our windows): You can make wider or skinnier shutters depending on personal preference and you can also choose from lots of different shutter designs/styles based on preference. There are tons of styles to choose from and a quick Google search for shutter styles will give you an idea of some of the most popular shutter styles out there. Our exterior is relatively simple, and our home has a farmhouse/cottage ranch vibe, so we went with a simple spaced board & batten shutter design, which in truth is also one of the easier designs to execute if you’re DIYing. Before we started this project we took a long drive around the neighborhood to see what other homeowners did with their shutters, and it was all over the map, which we felt like actually took some pressure off. Shutters are one of those “icing on the cake” design decisions, so the easiest way to decide what you want is to start with what shutter design is in line with your home’s style, and then just do what speaks to you from there! Simple as that. Like I said, we went with a pretty simple, classic spaced board and batten decorative shutter that includes three wider boards, spaced slightly and held together with two narrower cross panels at the top and bottom. We also added really fun 6″ spade-shaped black dummy straps (in the black powder coat finish) to our shutters for a little extra rustic flair and contrast, and to tie in with our home’s black hardware and black exterior light fixtures. Those dummy straps are one of my favorite things about these shutters and a detail that I’m so happy we included!
Shutter color is another topic entirely. This is another one of those design decisions that you can and should have a lot of fun with! We love when homeowners go bold with their shutter color that really makes you stop and stare, and we also love a more muted, soft shutter color that contrasts just enough to give your exterior that little bit of charm. Either way you go, you can’t lose in my opinion. So have fun with it!
Important Notes About our DIY Shutters
- Our shutters are 16 3/4” total in width, and to make each shutter we used three 1×6 boards and two 1×4 boards for our cross panels. There is a 3/8” space in between each 1×6 board.
- We made each shutter one by one, so we would measure one side of one window, go make the coordinating shutter, and then move on to the second side of that window and so on and so forth. This made it easier to keep track of specific measurements for each shutter and the side of the window it would sit next to.
- We used cheaper knotty pine for our shutters, and took our time choosing perfectly straight boards when picking up our wood at Home Depot. At the time we made these lumber was kind of expensive, which is why we decided to just use the cheaper pine board and check each and every board we chose to make sure it was perfect. If you were splashing out a little more cash for lumber, you could use a nice cedar and that would work well, too. Totally depends on your budget!
Supplies for DIY Shutters
(3) 1 x 6 wood boards
(2) 1 x 4 wood boards
Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray Paint Darkened by 60% (our painter recommended using Sherwin’s A-100 Exterior Acrylic Latex paint product for this)
Straight Edge (we usually use a rafter square for smaller needs and a long level for longer needs)
Shop DIY Shutter Supplies
How To: Make DIY Board and Batten Shutters
1. Measure the window next to which your shutters will be placed. Your shutter height should match your window’s height, so make sure you measure each side of each window and create each shutter to match that specific side of that specific window. Yes, technically each side of one window would have the same measurement, but if you have a brick exterior like we do, your height for each shutter on each side of a window might have to be adjusted ever so slightly because bricks are imperfect and can mess with your lines. It might not be a huge difference on each side if that’s the case – maybe just an 1/8” difference in length of the shutter.
2. After measuring each window height, we used our mitre saw to cut our 3 board lengths to match those window measurements.
3. Then we lined those three 1×6 boards up on the ground, placed a straight edge at the top or bottom to double check that all of our cuts for all three 1×6 boards matched and were exactly the same length (you don’t want one board to be slightly longer or shorter than the others). If one didn’t match up, we just trimmed off the excess with the mitre saw.
4. Once we were happy with the length of all three 1×6 boards, we lined them up on the ground again with a straight edge and then placed 3/8” wide spacers (we just used some scrap trim we had in the shed) in between each board to make sure that our spaces between boards matched perfectly. Once our spacers were in place, we measured 4.5” down from the top of our three 1×6 boards, and 4.5” up from the bottom of our three 1×6 boards and measured the width across both the top and bottom of those 3 boards (with spacers in place) in those spots so we could cut our cross panels to size. We did it that way because sometimes your 1×6 boards aren’t all perfect, so you want to measure the actual width exactly where you’ll be placing your cross panels, with your spacers in place, to make sure you’re cutting each cross panel to the exact width it needs to be in the exact place it will be attached. That will give your shutters a really clean, perfectly finished look.
5. After cutting each cross panel to size, with the spacers still in place between our three 1×6 boards, we double checked our width to make sure our cuts were perfect, then attached each cross panel 4.5″ in from the bottom and top of our 1×6 boards using a nail gun and 1 1/4” brad nails. We placed our nails in a straight line all the way across our cross panel, using about 5 nails in total to secure each cross panel to our boards.
6. Once the shutters were assembled, we sanded the edges of all of our shutters to give them a more clean, finished look.
7. After sanding and wiping our shutters clean, we primed them. Priming is SO important when you’re using cheaper knotty pine like we did so the sap on the knots doesn’t bleed through over time. If you don’t prime properly with a good primer and just go straight to the paint on wood like this, wherever there are knots you’ll start to see little yellow spots show through the paint. Especially if it’s a lighter paint like the gray we used on these.
8. Next we had the shutters painted! After many samples and a lot of tasing (you can see our test images), we went with Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, darkened by 60% for our shutter color. Agreeable gray is such a nice, slightly warm, perfectly neutral gray. Like I mentioned, we were having our home’s exterior painted at the same time we made these, so our painter just sprayed them for us. We could have easily done it ourselves, though and would have used our beloved airless paint sprayer to make it nice and easy!
9. Once the paint was dry, to attach the shutters to our brick exterior we used two 2 1/4” Tapcon screws on each shutter. Now I need to preface this with the note that attaching pretty much anything to brick is a b%&*h in my humble opinion, but it can be (and sometimes has to be) done. Which is why we used the Tapcon kit (with the white colored Phillips-flat-head screws to blend with our shutter color, not the bright blue Tapcon screws). We also wanted to find a way to attach the shutters to the brick in the most low profile way possible. Translation: we didn’t want giant screws and screw holes to be seen all over our pretty new shutters. So we decided that the best way for us to do that was to attach the shutters to the brick using one Tapcon screw on the side of the shutters closest to the window at both the top and bottom of each shutter, in a place that would be perfectly covered by our dummy straps, which means that there’s one Tapcon screw that goes through the cross panel and the wider board behind it on both the top and bottom of each shutter… on the side of the shutter closest to the window. In case you wondered about this, that’s why we didn’t attach our dummy straps to our shutters before attaching the shutters to the house. Our dummy straps are attached over our Tapcon screws to hide them! To attach the shutters using the Tapcon kit, using a hammer drill or impact driver and the drill bit provided in your Tapcon kit, drill a pilot hole through the cross panel and board, and then into the brick in the exact place where you want to screw in your Tapcon screw. Hold the shutter there and don’t move it so you don’t lose the placement of your pilot hole in the brick. Change your drill bit and screw your Tapcon into your pilot hole until the shutter is secured to your brick. An important note about drilling into brick – the Tapcon kit includes a free carbide-tipped Tapcon drill bit to drill your pilot hole – if you don’t use the proper bit or a tough enough drill, you’ll end up burning up drill bits and wearing out the drill. Even with the proper Tapcon bit that comes in the kit, the bit may wear out after lots of use… and get VERY hot. Trust me on this. I have intimate knowledge of this. When we were attaching one of the shutters to the house, I was holding up the shutter and Chris was drilling, and he accidentally moved the drill too close to my bum after he was done and burned a hole through my yoga pants and gave me a huge cigarette-like burn on my bum. It was very painful to say the least and Chris had to clean it because there were shards of metal in the wound. And I still have a scar. So lesson learned. Be ultra careful when drilling into brick or concrete.
10. After our shutters were attached, we added a black dummy strap on each cross panel on each shutter. These came with the screws so all we had to do was attach the straps in the middle of the cross panel with the ends sitting at the edge of the cross panel closest to the window, and that was it! Our Tapcon screws were then covered and our shutters were finished!
Do you like board and batten shutters? What’s a recent DIY house project you’ve done? Let me know in a comment below!