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Exterior Painting Problems: Can You Paint Vinyl Siding?

March 15, 2013

Vinyl siding was introduced in the 1950s and since then, has been sold as an exterior option that never needs updating. But while vinyl siding does fade more slowly than exterior paint and is less susceptible to the damaging effects of New England weather, it will fade and sustain damage over time. Eventually, the homeowner who thought vinyl was the ultimate ‘install it and forget about it’ option is going to see his or her home’s exterior paint looking increasingly tired and dull.

Replacing old vinyl siding is expensive. Simply living with faded, drab siding can make the people who live in a house feel less positive toward their home. And sad-looking vinyl siding can lower the resale value of an otherwise beautiful house. The answer is an update, and the answer to the question “Can you paint vinyl siding?” is yes. You can paint vinyl siding. The procedure is even pretty straightforward when compared to painting a wood exterior.

How Vinyl Siding Is Painted

Old vinyl siding is prepped before painting, often with a thorough pressure washing and, when necessary, a second wash with a cleaning solution designed to remove mold, moss, and mildew so it won’t return. Newer vinyl siding may not need as detailed a cleaning, but paint will always adhere best to a dirt-free surface. A good rinse is especially important because leftover soap residues can prevent paint from really sticking. After cleaning, siding is allowed to dry completely – particularly in spots where water may have collected in the seams between sections. Hidden water can ruin an otherwise perfect paint job, so a day to two days of drying time is recommended.

In some cases, paint can be applied directly to siding after it is washed and dried, but vinyl siding that is very old and has a chalky surface will require one or more coats of primer to ensure good paint adhesion. Finally, it’s time to start applying that first coat of color, and this is where painting vinyl siding differs from painting wood shingles or other surfaces.

The Right Paint Is Key

The number one reason people caution against painting vinyl siding is that vinyl expands and contracts much more significantly than other materials as temperature changes. That means that in addition to changing size and shape as winter gives way to spring, vinyl siding also grows and shrinks throughout the day as it is exposed to sun and shade, and when the sun goes down. As a consequence, standard acrylic latex paints don’t bond well with vinyl and under certain conditions, painted vinyl can even warp.

So when painting vinyl siding, it’s important to choose a high-grade paint designed to expand and contract along with the siding. Some paints, in particular those containing urethane, work great on vinyl siding as long as you choose an exterior paint color that’s lighter than the color of the vinyl siding itself to prevent flaking paint and warping vinyl. But if you have your heart set on a darker color, you’re in luck. New vinyl safe paint tints from various manufacturers feature darker colors designed specifically to withstand the expansion and contraction of vinyl when used with specific bases.

You won’t find every color under the rainbow available in these new specialty formulations designed for painting vinyl siding, but you will find a much greater variation of hues than you would have, say, two years ago. And if you choose your exterior paint products carefully, especially in this particular instance, your vinyl siding colors will stand up to even the worst conditions New England can throw at it.

At Jerry Enos Painting, you always receive a free, professional exterior paint consultation during which you’ll be given a knowledgeable opinion on how best to proceed. We understand the challenges that come with painting vinyl siding, and we can help you understand the solutions. A detailed proposal will be sent to you with a fixed cost to complete the work, and no payment is required until the work has been started. Call us for a free estimate at 978-546-6843.

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