Painting Your Vinyl Siding
The great advantage of vinyl siding is its advertised quality of being “maintenance free.” Unlike other siding types, the color goes all the way through the material, so wear and damage isn’t as apparent when it gets dinged or scratched. But what if that ingrained color isn’t what you want on your house? Can you paint it? The short answer is “yes,” but with some important caveats.
This is the most important issue to consider. Vinyl siding is designed to expand and contract as it heats and cools over the course of a day. When it’s installed, it’s left with a little wiggle room to account for this. When it comes to paint, this gives you several things to think about.
First, you have to use the proper paint. If you don’t, it will start to pop off as soon as it’s dry. Get a high quality, water based urethane with acrylic resins. This is flexible enough to survive the expansion and contraction. It will cost you to get the good stuff, but without it you’re wasting your time.
Second, consider when you’re painting. Summertime is a good time to be outside painting your house. But if it’s hot out when you paint, the vinyl will be fully expanded. When things cool off your siding will shrink and reveal all the unpainted edges. Choose a cool, cloudy day to do your painting.
Finally, because the siding is constantly moving against itself, it will wear at the paint faster than if you had wood siding. Remember to keep extra paint on hand because you’ll need it for touchups down the road.
How old is your siding? If it’s been on your house a long time there may be some unpaintable issues. Early vinyl siding wasn’t as high quality as it is today. If it’s breaking down, covered with powdery oxidation that comes off when you rub it, then a paint job will not last. The same goes for damaged siding. Whether it’s cracked or sagging, if it’s not in good shape it’s not going to paint up well.
Although it’s designed to expand and contract in the heat, that only goes so far. Vinyl siding is plastic, and when plastic gets too hot it melts. In the factory they take this into consideration when the siding is made, but if you paint it a darker color, you change the heat absorption properties. Darker colors absorb more heat, so you should only paint your vinyl a lighter shade than you already have, or you risk sagging or even drippy melting if you live in a hot enough area.
Once you’ve painted your vinyl siding you’ve eliminated the maintenance-free quality of the material. You now have to maintain your paint. Keep it clean and don’t skimp on the touchups. If it’s cracked or chipped, moisture will get between the paint and the vinyl, causing bubbling and peeling. You can expect to paint again in ten years or so.