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Can You Paint Aluminum Siding?

A building with painted aluminum walls.

As we know, aluminum is one of the most used materials in the field of construction. For this reason, it is very common to have the metallic silver color that its finishes usually have. However, because it is also widely used in decoration and ornamentation, other shades can be sought. Contrary to what might be thought, changing the color of aluminum is indeed possible and allows giving a different touch to window frames, doors, as well as kitchen utensils, furniture, and building facades made of aluminum.

Taking all this into account, the answer is yes: aluminum can be painted. In addition, painting aluminum does not require a great effort or materials that are very complicated to acquire. All that is needed is a suitable paint for that material and the correct preparation of it.

Related To: Aluminum vs. Vinyl Siding | Is Aluminum a Metal

What is aluminum?

A man pouring melted aluminum in a mold.

Aluminum is a cladding that has been installed in homes for decades and stands out for its great durability, low maintenance and great resistance to fire. Sometimes it happens that the color can go out of style and suddenly it occurs to homeowners to paint it as a way of updating it. Would it be possible? The answer is that with proper preparation, including good cleaning and priming, even the oldest, most faded aluminum siding can be revitalized with a fresh coat of paint.

Work with aluminum cladding

A building with aluminum painted walls and outdoor light.

Due to the nature of this material, the painting process is different from that of other materials, since aluminum has characteristics of oxidation and corrosion (see how to paint rusty iron) that may be unknown to many owners accustomed to working with wood, fiber cement or vinyl siding. But knowing the materials to use and what steps must be followed to do it correctly, anyone can do it in a simple way.

The materials

Materials needed to paint the aluminum siding:

  • Roller
  • roller pads
  • Gloves
  • Ladder
  • Spatula
  • Mask and goggles
  • Scourer
  • Nylon bristle brush
  • High quality exterior paint.
  • oil based primer
  • Bleach and/or detergent
  • Masking tape
  • outer putty
  • Paint thinner or mineral spirits
  • Paint gun

Types of paint for aluminum

Different types of aluminum paint colors.

Despite being an easy and soft material to work with, aluminum is not as easy to paint as it may seem. This is because it is not a porous material, so its surface does not allow good paint adhesion, causing it to chip over time if the right products are not used.

One of the best alternatives to painting aluminum is with latex-based paint. This type of paint is very elastic, so it adapts to possible changes without damaging the painted surface.

In cases where shiny appearances are desired, an oil-based polish can be used. In this type of enamel, it is possible to find a great diversity of colors. Finally, there are also different specialized paints.

The steps to paint aluminum

Next, we will see the steps to follow to be able to paint the aluminum.

Sand

With soft sandpaper, the final result of the whole process can be excellent. If the entire object to be painted is sanded, what is achieved is polishing possible damage, as well as facilitating the grip of the product in the next step. After finishing all the sanding, a cloth with solvent should be used to remove any possible remains and impurities that may occur.

Apply the primer or undercoat

Thanks to this first layer, what is achieved is to prepare the surface for painting, so that it grips the paint and the chosen color well. The primer is a product, generally transparent, that allows better adhesion of the paint later.

Applying an undercoat will allow proper preparation to facilitate its adhesion. In addition, it protects from rust and oxidation while improving the final aesthetics and durability of the paint.

To apply the undercoat, use a roller for large flat surfaces and use a paintbrush for the recesses. One coat is enough, and you won’t need to apply large amounts of product but remember to overlap the applications to perfectly cover the surface, first horizontally then vertically. Be sure to wire the brush or roller well before application so as not to saturate the surface.

The undercoat version in aerosol form will save time, but the result is not as optimal as an undercoat applied with a brush.. As for monolayer paints, avoid them, because despite their promises, they do not offer the same quality of coverage and finish.

Apply the paint

Different types of paint colors in the bucket.

When your undercoat is applied and perfectly dry, you can move on to applying the aluminum paint. Proceed in the same way as with the undercoat. Apply the aluminum paint with a roller on the flat surfaces and with a brush for the recesses.

Apply two coats and make sure the first is completely dry before applying the second. Choose a suitable paint for aluminum in order to obtain an optimal rendering.

A synthetic or oil-based enamel is used for the best results. Different types of paint and ways of painting with spray, gun or brush can be used.

Time for the finishing touches!

Couples painting walls and an aluminum ladder.

It is advisable to apply a varnish to the elements placed outdoors in order to better protect them from the vagaries of the weather and to guarantee better hold of the paint over time. If you use these different steps, your aluminum will regain its shine and will be protected for a long time. It’s your turn!