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Painting Vinyl Siding Pros and Cons

Green house exterior siding with a pair of shutter windows as seen from a hydrangea hedge.

There are many arguments for and against painting vinyl siding so consider these pro and cons especially when seeing the same old dull exterior of you're home is putting a damper on your days.

To paint or not to paint? That is indeed the question. And, no, this isn’t a bad rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is a question that plagues the minds of millions of homeowners across the country – specifically those who have vinyl siding cladding on the exterior of their houses.

You’re probably thinking: Why on earth would you paint your vinyl siding when you can simply replace the panels? A valid question, but one probably asked by someone who’s not yet grown tired of seeing the same old dull exterior every time they pull up to their driveway.

Besides, the costs associated with replacing the panels for an entire house aren’t exactly cheap. There are many arguments for and against painting vinyl siding. Whether or not you choose to do it, all boils down to which side the odds are stacked.

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about painting vinyl siding pros and cons.

Why Paint Vinyl Siding

If you’re still on the fence about it, here are a couple of compelling reasons why you should consider giving your vinyl siding a bit of a makeover.

You Want to Sell Your House in the Future

House For Sale signage on a front lawn in front of a subarban home.

One of the most effective ways that are guaranteed to drive up your property’s value is to embark on a couple of home improvement projects in the important areas of your home. And what’s more important than its external appearance?

The fact is, regardless of how swanky your interior may look, if your vinyl siding looks dull and dingy, no one will pay top-dollar for that. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference a fresh coat of paint will do to the sale price of your home.

Even if you’re not selling right away, painting the exterior will enhance its longevity by protecting the panels from wear and weather damage to keep it looking new for a while to come.

Your House Looks Old and Outdated

House with cracked and peeling exterior siding, sliding doors and windows wrapped in plastic, and brick front steps.

If you’re being honest, the reason why you got vinyl siding installed in the first place is that you’re lazy – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Before you get defensive about it, here’s why.

Spending your summer doing maintenance and repairs on your home exterior can be a big pain. Mainly because there are a million other things you would rather spend your time doing and, not to mention that, it costs a pretty penny to do it. Vinyl siding panels were an affordable, low-maintenance option, so you knew that once you had them installed, you had several solid years ahead of you before you had to think about embarking on another maintenance project.

Well, great as that may be, the harsh outdoor elements like the sun and rain have been unrelenting, and your house doesn’t look as lustrous as it once did. The good news is, a simple paint job on your vinyl siding will restore it to its glory days.

You Have a Tight Budget

Young man sitting on a couch and looking at pieces of papers he's holding.

Look, anyone with old weathered vinyl siding panels would replace them in a heartbeat if they could. Getting new siding for your home exterior comes with a hefty price tag attached to it.

So unless you’re sitting on a pile of money, you need to find a creative and effective way to give your house the facelift it badly needs without going broke in the process. The cost to paint vinyl siding is a fraction of what it would be to replace the panels.

Is It a Good Idea to Paint Vinyl Siding

One of the most frequently asked questions by people who have vinyl panels installed in their homes is whether or not it’s a good idea to paint them. Let’s put this to bed once and for all, shall we?

You can paint vinyl siding, but make no mistake about it. If you use the wrong type of paint, it will ruin your panels – and we don’t mean aesthetically either. As long as you know how to get paint off vinyl siding, you can salvage the panels and try again.

Using paint that is not specifically designed for vinyl siding will physically ruin your panels. Here’s why.

Vinyl is essentially PVC – which is short for polymerizing vinyl chloride. In a general sense, PVC is plastic, which makes it highly sensitive to changes in temperature. It is constantly expanding and contracting throughout the day, so you need a special paint that doesn’t get in the way of that happening. These are usually referred to as “vinyl-safe” paints. They can be applied safely without running the risk of the vinyl warping or the paint chipping, and it expands and contracts.

How Long Will My Vinyl Siding Last If I Paint It

A large contemporary family home with yellow exterior siding.

The gradual fading appearance of vinyl siding is more a cosmetic issue than a functional one. These panels are built to last anywhere between 20 and 40 years at the most. While a 20-year window might seem like a long time, the longevity depends on external factors like how much sun your home is exposed to daily, the existing climate and weather conditions that exist in your locale, the thickness of the panels, and many other factors.

You can, therefore, understand the logic behind painting your vinyl siding. It adds a protective layer that guards against weather and climate damage. This should allow it to last the full 40 years before you need to replace it. If you don’t paint it, it should last about 20 years or so.

Pros of Painting Vinyl Siding

Still not sure whether you should paint vinyl siding? Here are a couple of compelling reasons why it’s a good idea.

Cost-Effectiveness

Close-up of hands holding folded dollar bills and an open money pouch.

In any painting vinyl siding pros and cons list, cost-effectiveness will always be at the top. If your siding hasn’t run the full course of its shelf life, why would you want to replace perfectly good panels? What a waste that would be. Not to mention that it’s an expensive undertaking.

If your home’s vinyl siding is still in great shape, but the colors have become dull over time, a fresh coat of paint will restore their luster to give them that fresh-out-of-the-factory look and a fraction of the price.

Efficiency

Multi-story family home with an expansive front lawn.

Vinyl siding will last for about 20 years before you need to replace the panels. Painting it extends its lifespan to 40 years. That’s double the amount of time it would last without the paint.

Experts recommend that you paint your home exterior at least once every seven or so years. So, if you do the math, you’ll only need to paint your home exterior five times at most for your vinyl siding to give you an additional 20 years’ worth of service. It’s a no-brainer.

Choosing Your Own Colors

A row of differently-colored townhouses.

Painting vinyl siding is a great way to update your home’s external appearance and enhance your curb appeal if you’ve grown bored and uninspired by the existing panel colors. It allows you to keep up with the latest trends in home design and choose vinyl siding paint colors that reflect your style.

Creativity

Graffiti detail on exterior siding.

If you’re the type of person who likes to push the envelope when it comes to interior and exterior design, painting vinyl siding gives you the freedom to do that. So, go crazy and paint your house yellow if that’s what you’re into.

Vinyl panels tend to come in conservative colors that may be too “safe” for individuals with the artistic bug. Painting lets out your inner creative monster to inject personality and uniqueness to your home.

Cons of Painting Vinyl Siding

Are there any downsides? Here’s a couple of them.

It’s Best Left to the Experts

Unlike many other DIY home improvement projects, this one that’s best left to the experts. There are very specific types of paints that are suitable for different vinyl siding options. Using the wrong kind will ruin your panels permanently. You’re better off letting a professional do the heavy lifting here.

Cost of Tools and Effort Required

This type of painting project requires a lot of prep work. Damaged panels need to be fixed; the vinyl surface needs to be washed to remove dirt and grime; you have to buy the right kind of paintbrushes, rollers, and other painting equipment; you need to apply primer before putting at least two coats of paint… it’s a lot.

So, if you want to get the best results, you need to put in the time, effort and invest in high-quality paint, tools, other siding materials.

Hazards of Painting It Yourself

Embarking on DIY home improvement projects can be hazardous to your health. If you decide to paint your home exterior yourself, you run the risk of suffering from headaches and nausea as a result of inhaling paint fumes, lead poisoning if the home was previously painted with lead-based paints, irritation from mold exposure or injuries from falling off a ladder that’s not secure. It all comes with the territory.

Can You Paint Vinyl Siding a Darker Color – Painting Vinyl Siding Pros and Cons

Close up of a house exterior's dark gray vinyl siding.

A common question many people have is: Do you have to use lighter shades, or can you paint vinyl siding a darker color? Well, you can go darker as long as you use vinyl-safe paint that has a light reflective value (LRV) rating of 55 and above.

One of the main benefits of darker colors for house siding is their ability to camouflage architectural defects in your home that you would rather not highlight. It is also a great color if you want to give your house a more contemporary feel and use light accents to create a dramatic contrast.

The main drawback, however, is that it is not very effective in dispersing heat, which may damage your vinyl siding in the long run. Think about what happens to a plastic plate when you leave it in the microwave for too long. It’s essentially the same thing that would happen to your panels. Darker colors retain heat, and this increases their propensity warp.

Deciding to Paint Your Vinyl Siding

A worker on a ladder doing house exterior paint work.

Now that you’ve weighed the painting vinyl siding pros and cons and have decided to go that route, here are a few tips that will come in handy during your project.

  • Prep work makes the dream work – for best results make sure you’re working with a clean, flaw-free surface
  • Work in suitable weather – it shouldn’t be too hot, windy, humid or wet
  • Use paint that’s the same shade or lighter than the current color of the vinyl
  • Darker colors require more maintenance so keep that in mind
  • Use paint that has urethane and acrylic resins
  • Apply primer and finish with at least two coats of paint
  • Always let the paint dry for at least 24 hours between coats

Ideas and Inspiration (Pictures)

House with a green exterior siding, wall sconces, and a red front door decorated with a Christmas wreath and partly covered in snow.

 

Street view of a 60s bungalow house with blue exterior siding.

 

Rear view of a home with beige exterior siding.

 

North American family house with green exterior siding after a snowstorm.

Related: Types of Vinyl Siding Tools

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