the painted surface
How To Paint Aluminum or Vinyl Siding
Painting aluminum or vinyl siding is often asked about since aluminum or vinyl siding and trim has been installed on so many houses in the past couple of decades. What may have started as a cheaper alternative to traditional finish products is now found on houses in all price ranges. It has proven to be an excellent choice for many situations. Besides having lower installation costs it is durable and almost maintenance free. However as styles, personal tastes and the popularity of some colors change the question arises, "Can aluminum or vinyl siding be painted?" Since it can that leads us to the question, "How do I paint aluminum or vinyl siding?"
A properly prepared surface will greatly increase the success of this project. Check to make sure there are no underlying problems. Is the siding in need of any repair or nailing of loose pieces? A close inspection of the house may reveal decayed wood, insect damage or moisture under the siding. Any structural problems should be addressed before the painting starts.
The siding will probably need to cleaned. The paint on aluminum siding may have become chalky. If you wipe your hand across the surface and a powdery residue comes off, the surface should be washed. Both vinyl and aluminum siding may develop mold or mildew on the surface. Dust can be problem on areas not naturally washed off by rainfall. A pressure washer can be used to clean the siding but be very careful not to force water under the siding, especially around windows and doors. An alternative is to use mops, towels, brooms or scrub brushes and hand wash the surface. If ladders are used to reach any area be sure to use all safety precautions. The soap will be slippery and extra care should be taken. A solution of water, chlorine bleach and laundry detergent makes an economical and effective outdoor surface cleaner. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water and allow to dry before painting.
For stubborn stains not removed with normal washing the cleaner called "SoftScrub" might clean them. It is labor intensive but works in many situations. Use a generous amount on a well moistened towel and scrub the surface and rinse. If your goal is to just clean and not repaint the "SoftScrub" may come close to making the surface look new again. If repainting, stubborn stains not removed with washing can be painted.
Now you have a clean surface and it is almost ready to paint. Look around now to see if their are dents in the aluminum siding or stray nail holes. These can be repaired with and exterior grade spackling or Bondo. You might also notice cracks between the siding and other surfaces that would look better if filled with caulk. Use a paintable acrylic caulk(not silicone) for aluminum or vinyl siding. Be careful when smoothing the caulk with your finger, especially on aluminum siding, the edges can be very sharp. Do not caulk under the laps of the siding, you want to allow for expansion and contraction of the siding.
Primers For Aluminum or Vinyl Siding
Is a primer needed for aluminum or vinyl siding? Ask this question to five people and you might get seven answers. Your goals and the surface you plan to paint will dictate if a primer is needed. Is the siding glossy, slick or in the case of aluminum siding, weathered down to bare metal? Are there stains or discolorations that could bleed through the finish paint? Do you want this paint job to last as long as possible? If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes" I would recommend using a primer.
If the need for a primer is doubtful, do an adhesion test. Using the finish paint of choice, paint a small area of the siding. Allow the paint to dry several days. This is very important to allow the paint to reach its maximum adhesion. Test the adhesion by scraping it with a fingernail, sanding it, or pulling masking tape off it in a quick motion. If the paint comes off easily a primer should be used.
Use a primer that is 100% acrylic. This is often called an "acrylic bonding primer". The new acrylic primers adhere to almost any surface and provide an excellent undercoat for the finish paint. They are very durable. For better color coverage the primer can be tinted to a close match of the finish paint.
Test both the primer and the paint over any stains that could possibly bleed through. This is usually not a problem when painting over siding. If stains bleed through, a sealing exterior grade primer will be needed. Your local paint dealer will be able to recommend the proper product depending on your needs.
Paints For Aluminum or Vinyl Siding
When choosing colors to paint vinyl siding you may be restricted to colors lighter than the color of the vinyl siding. Painting vinyl siding with a darker color may cause the siding to warp. If possible, check with the maker of the vinyl siding to determine what colors can be used. This is not a problem with aluminum siding.
The finish coat of paint should be an acrylic exterior grade paint. I would buy the best grade your choice of paint dealer sells. The better grades are more durable, resist fading, cover better and are often easier to apply. They are worth the few extra dollars, look for a sale or ask for a contractor's discount. Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams make fine paints and their sales staff is usually very helpful.
An eggshell or satin finish will probably be the best choice. These have a pleasing look without much glare caused by higher gloss paints. Where exposed to rainfall they will naturally wash off better than a flat paint. If the need arises they can be washed to renew their original appearance.
Acrylic paints are applied with synthetic bristle brushes. Brush size will depend on what you are painting but 2 1/2 or 3 inch brushes seem to work well in many situations. The size of brush can be matched to the width or height of the siding to maximize the brush work. Large areas of siding can be sprayed quite efficiently but experience using spray equipment is required. Using a roller and handle extensions can be almost as fast as spraying. A lambswool roller cover will hold and release the paint very well.
Plan your work to always be painting on the shady side of the house. This is more comfortable for the painter and avoids applying the paint to a hot surface. Siding will become quite hot on a summer day causing the paint to dry too quickly. A "wet edge" should be maintained whenever possible. Paint across the siding from end to end to prevent lap marks. Additives such as "Floetrol" can be mixed with the paint to extend the drying time. A cool Spring or Fall day is ideal.
Maintenance of Painted Aluminum or Vinyl Siding
Painted aluminum or vinyl siding should not need no more maintenance than any other painted surface. Areas exposed to rainfall will naturally be washed but overhangs and covered areas may need to be washed annually. A light washing with detergent should be enough to renew its appearance.
Buy a little extra paint and preserve what is leftover. The unused paint should be stored in a temperature controlled environment. Proper storing will extend the life of the paint which will come in handy for future touch-ups. Record the brand, color name, color number, color formula and base for future reference should the cans be thrown away. Paint a card or piece of cardboard to keep as a reference.
More helpful painting tips, techniques and how-to articles can be found by following these links:
How To Paint a Room ◊ How To Paint a Stairway ◊ How To Paint a Two-Story Room ◊ How To Choose Colors ◊ Six Step Color Choice ◊ Popular Color Ideas ◊ How To Choose Paint ◊ Tools ◊ How To Caulk ◊ How To Patch a Hole ◊ How To Patch a Crack ◊ How To Cut In a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Roll a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Paint Woodwork ◊ How To Paint a Window ◊ How To Paint Baseboard ◊ How To Paint a Door ◊ How To Paint Crown Moulding ◊ How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets ◊ How To Choose a Premium Paintbrush ◊ How To Paint a MDF Bookcase ◊ How To Paint Aluminum or Vinyl Siding ◊ How To Paint Over Faux Finishes ◊ How To Use Magnetic Paint ◊ How To Use FrogTape ◊ How To Paint Repair Water Damaged Drywall ◊ Hiring a Contractor ◊ Paint Stripper Safety ◊ Painting Louvered Shutters ◊ 2013 Color Trends ◊ Choosing Front Door Colors
More details about specific painting subjects are covered in the additional articles. In those will be found details, painting tips and techniques gathered from over 20 years of painting experience. Here is a list of links to the articles: