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What Should I Consider When Painting Siding?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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While most people install vinyl or aluminum siding to the exterior of a home as a way to avoid painting, the fact is that over time any type of siding will lose some of the original color and luster. The result is an appearance that is dull and somewhat lifeless. Rather than replace the siding, many people decide to simply apply a coat or two of paint to bring the old home siding back to life. If you have this in mind, here are some things you need to keep in mind about painting siding.

Before you begin painting siding, it is important to prepare the siding for the process. It doesn’t matter whether you are going to paint vinyl siding, wood siding, or if the job involves painting aluminum siding, there is still the need to make sure the siding is free of any contaminants or elements that would cause the paint to not adhere to the surface properly. This means you need to wash the siding thoroughly, much as you would clean the surface with any type of house painting job. Allow the siding to dry thoroughly before you move on to the next step.

Your next task is to select the right type of house paint for your siding. Keep in mind that aluminum siding is subject to oxidation. This means you do not want to use an exterior latex paint, as most formulas contain ammonia. The ammonia will accelerate the oxidation process and cause the paint to begin peeling in a relatively short period of time. For aluminum siding, go with a primer oat of an oil based metal paint, the cover with another coat of paint that is safe for use on metal. If you are covering dark siding, consider mixing some of the topcoat metal paint into the underlying primer coat. This will sometimes be enough to complete the job without the need for additional coats.

Your next task in painting siding is to make sure all your paint has the same shade or hue. Even paint produced by the same manufacturer will vary slightly in hue from one can to the next. To get around this issue, mix all the paint for the project in one large container. This will make the siding paint uniform and completely eliminate the possibility of beginning with a lighter shade and ending with a slightly darker shade. This will also ensure that if you have to do any touch-ups in later years, the leftover paint will be an exact match at any point on the siding.

Another tip that helps with painting siding is to never paint a section of siding when the area is receiving direct sunlight. Paint earlier or later in the day when the area is only receiving indirect sunlight. If the day is windy, don’t paint the house that day. Direct sunlight may impact the application process by expediting the drying process, which in turn may adversely impact the bonding process. Windy days will increase the chances of airborne contaminants adhering to the wet paint.

One final suggestion for painting siding is to always paint in the direction of the grain. Doing so is more likely to adequately fill in the tiny irregularities in the texture of the siding and create a smooth coverage. Since the brush strokes are going in the same direction as the grain, it will be less apparent that you’ve applied paint to some type of siding and thus help to restore the original look the siding had when it was first installed.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Drentel — On Nov 01, 2014

If money is not a concern then I would always replace aluminum and vinyl siding and not attempt to paint. However, when money is a concern then my advice is paint it yourself and try to save up to replace the siding at some point in the future. If you hire a professional you will spend money that could have gone toward buying new siding.

By mobilian33 — On Nov 01, 2014

I have painted the aluminum siding on one of my sheds several times. The building looked better than it did when I bought it the first time I painted it. Then the paint began to chip and peel and in less than a year and a half the shed looked worse than it did before I painted.

It never occurred to me that once I painted the building it would need to be painted so often. If I had to do it all over again, I would leave it as it was -- a bit faded, but no peeling paint. Next time I will try some of the painting-siding suggestions in this article and see if that helps the paint job last any longer.

By Feryll — On Oct 31, 2014

I agree with this article when it talks about one of the benefits of siding on a house being that you don't have to paint the outside of the house. A friend told me how much he had to pay to have his house repainted. I had no idea paint and labor would cost so much.

I was really pleased when we finally found a house after looking at close to 100 of them. I was also pleased that the house had vinyl siding because I thought this would mean there would be virtually no maintenance on the exterior of the house.

I worry that if I do decide to paint the vinyl then this will mean I will have to paint the siding again in a few years. I don't want to get into a cycle where I am painting my entire house every three to five years. If that's the case then I would rather have bought a house with wood siding.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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