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Tips for Painting Vinyl Siding

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Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

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Can You Paint Vinyl Siding?

Homeowners with vinyl siding are usually unaware that vinyl can be painted successfully. Painting vinyl siding is the cheapest alternative to replacing it.

A vinyl siding paint job restores faded siding to improve the look and value of a home. Paint coatings on vinyl, when applied correctly, typically lasts longer than pain coatings on porous surfaces, like wood, which retain moisture. Applying vinyl paint is easy and can be achieved without the use of a brush and roller.

Vinyl Siding Paint Colors

Unfortunately, there are limitations when choosing paint colors for vinyl siding. Certain paint colors, particularly dark colors, may absorb too much heat, causing the vinyl to warp and peel. Generally, paint colors that are lighter than the original siding color are safe from warping. Most paint makers offer a palette of vinyl-safe colors.

In addition to using vinyl-safe paint colors for your siding, it is even more important to make sure the paint is too. A paint with gloss in it, such as satin, is best for painting vinyl. A glossy paint mimics the original gloss of the siding and will be easier to clean.

Clean Mildew and Dirt

Like aluminum siding, vinyl forms a powdery film on the surface that should be cleaned before painting. Vinyl also tends to accumulate mildew and that needs to be cleaned too. The best way to clean the siding is with a garden sprayer (pump sprayer) and hose, not a power washer. The intense pressure from a power washer can force water behind the siding.

An effective cleaning solution is a mix of one gallon of water, one quart bleach and 1/3 cup laundry detergent. The bleach helps remove the dark mildew stains when washing. Mix the solution in a pump sprayer and spray it onto the siding. You can use a power washer to apply cleaner too, but only with the low pressure cleaning tip, not the full pressure tip.

Scrub the siding with a hard bristle brush and rinse everything off with a garden hose, not a power washer. When the water dries you should be able to rub your finger on the surface without seeing any powder or residue.

Best Paint for Vinyl Siding

Sherwin Williams Duration and Super Paint are two premium paints that work great on vinyl siding. Not all paints can be used on vinyl, so it is very important to read the label before making a purchase. The ideal paint for this substrate should be acrylic and vinyl-safe, meaning that the paint is designed to expand with the siding to avoid failure.

After careful cleaning, two coats of paint is all that is needed for adequate coverage and durability. Priming vinyl usually isn't necessary, unless the original color has worn off completely, or if the surface is pitted. Like the paint, make sure the primer is also acrylic and safe for vinyl.

Spray Painting Vinyl Siding

Spray painting vinyl siding is the best application method. Spraying saves a ton of time and looks similar to the original factory finish, without brush and roller marks.

The process and technique for spraying vinyl is the same as painting aluminum siding. You will need to cover windows, doors and downspouts with plastic before using a sprayer outside. Throw drop cloths and tarps over the bushes. Shrubs should be cut back enough to allow easier access for spraying.

The best sprayer for painting siding is an airless sprayer, which are available for rent at most home improvement stores. The proper spray tip size to use will be noted on the can of paint. When using a sprayer outside, only spray on a calm day without wind. You can also control over-spray by dialing down the pressure on the sprayer.

Spray vinyl siding from left to right, starting at the top, working down to the bottom of the house. No roller is needed. Vinyl is smooth enough that the sprayed paint will cover the surface fine in two coats. Similar to staining a deck floor, always keep a wet edge of paint when spraying horizontally from one side of the house to the other. Avoid starting, or stopping, in the middle.

Plan on spraying the shaded side of the house first. Spraying paint on vinyl in direct sunlight is very bad for the paint. Always paint in the shade whenever possible.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can I paint my white vinyl siding?

Answer: Yes.

Question: How many gallons of paint did you get?

Answer: The amount of paint you need depends on the number of shutters and coats you're painting, as well as your application method. Spraying uses more material. If you're spraying four or six shutters then you could probably get away with one gallon, but larger projects will take two gallons, or more. The type of paint you choose plays a role in the coverage too. Cheap paint usually doesn't go on easy. Most of my shutter projects take two gallons to finish. I spray them.

Question: Can I back roll vinyl siding as I'm spraying it? I know it said it is not needed but will it hurt?

Answer: Yes, you can roll vinyl siding as you're spraying it, but this creates stippling texture instead of the smooth finish you get from only spraying. When rolling, the roller also pulls some of the paint off of the surface which impacts coverage as well. Spraying without rolling produces a thicker and more solid coating for better coverage.

© 2012 Matt G.