Painting Vinyl Siding

Painting vinyl siding requires the same basic fundamental steps for a proper paint job as is the case with most other materials:

  • Wash / Preparation
  • Prime
  • Paint

The first step is to prepare a surface that is free from contaminants and otherwise ready for primer. The next step is to apply a coat of primer that is suitable for vinyl siding. The final step is to apply a quality exterior acrylic latex painted finish.

Vinyl siding is exterior cladding primarily composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. Pigments are another ingredient that gives vinyl siding its color and resistance to the harmful effect of UV light. In other words its original colored finish is part of the manufacturing process.  After years of exposure to the elements, vinyl siding tends to fade, chalk, collect dirt, and lose its overall appearance. If a thorough cleaning is not enough to rejuvenate the look, painting is a good solution.

Surface Preparation

Over a prolonged period of time, vinyl siding can collect contaminants such as dirt, grime, and mildew. Surfaces can also become chalky. A good cleaning solution coupled with scrubbing action will most likely remove these types of contaminants. Simple Green House & Siding Cleaner is a non-toxic, biodegradable concentrate that works well for vinyl siding. Laundry detergent, about ¼ cup per gallon of water is also an effective cleaning solution. There are several other available cleaning products that could be used.

Begin the cleaning process by waterproofing all the electrical outlets. This can be accomplished with painter’s plastic and red vinyl duct tape. Apply the cleaning solution with a soft to medium bristle scrub brush. A scrub brush that can be attached to a telescoping extension pole increases reach and leverage making it easier to work from the ground. The use of a scouring pad placed on a pole sander head, attached to an extension pole is also a very effective way to eliminate chalky surfaces. After scrubbing a small section, thoroughly rinse with clean water. A garden hose with a nozzle will work.

Most manufacturers of vinyl siding have some limitations on the amount of water pressure that should be applied to their product. It is best to check the siding manufacturer’s specifications before using a pressure washer. That being said, a pressure washer with the wide angle cleaning tip may be preferable for extremely chalky surfaces. The high pressure water helps to remove any contaminants that the scrubbing may have missed. If a pressure washer is to be used, the wide angle spray tip will help to avoid excessive pressure that could damage vinyl siding. Try not to aim the pressure washer wand in an upward direction so as not to allow water to get behind the siding. Also use caution when cleaning the corners around openings, such as windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Try to avoid spraying the high pressure water into the openings.

Choosing the Proper Primer and Paint

Vinyl siding has the tendency to expand and contract more with temperature extremes than other common types of exterior cladding. Excessive deflection could cause the vinyl siding to become warped. For this reason, very dark colors are not recommended. In general, it is best not to paint vinyl siding any darker than its original color.

A good quality all purpose acrylic latex primer should be used when painting vinyl siding. Oil base primer is not recommended. One coat of primer should be sufficient for this type of substrate.

An all-purpose exterior acrylic latex paint can be used for the finish coats. The use of high quality paint will maximize longevity. One finish coat may be sufficient but two finish coats may increase the durability and longevity of the paint job.

Paint Application

Painting vinyl siding is similar to other material insofar as paint application. Primer and paint coats can be applied with a paint brush and roller or they can be spray painted with an airless sprayer.

A 3 or 3-1/2 inch paint brush with synthetic filaments (bristles) is a good choice for a brush finish. A combination nylon/polyester brush works well for this application. If a paint roller is needed, a short nap roller sleeve is preferable to maintain a relatively smooth finish.

Spray painting vinyl siding can be a big time saver but it does require adequate masking and covering to prevent overspray. Because vinyl siding is a smooth, non-porous material, it is advantageous to control the paint output so as to avoid excessive paint build up. This can be accomplished by choosing the proper airless spray tip. We often use a 515 or 615 reversible spray tip. A 513 or 613 spray tip will also work well but may require a small amount thinning to reduce the viscosity of the paint. A spray tip larger than a 015 may result in paint runs.

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.