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Painting Vinyl Siding – Everything You Need to Know

A row of townhouses or condominiums in different colors.

Everything you need to know about painting vinyl siding to update the look of your home’s exterior, save a ton on maintenance, and even keep your house looking new for several years

Can you picture a world without vinyl siding in it? What if the wood siding was the only option available for homeowners everywhere? The horror! Not that there’s anything wrong with it. But who has the time (and money) to spend on continuously repairing and repainting it every year when summer rolls around? It’s never that serious, people!

If you’ve already made the switch, good on you! If you haven’t, well, you better start thinking about updating the look of your home’s exterior and save a ton on maintenance. Speaking of updating exteriors, one of the most frequently asked questions by people who’ve already joined the movement is: Can you paint vinyl siding?

There’s no arguing that it keeps your house looking new for several years, but it can get dreary after a while, especially if all your neighbors have the same cookie-cutter styles of vinyl siding. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with sprucing up your home’s exterior to enhance its curb appeal and inject a bit of personality while you’re at it.

You can paint vinyl siding, but there’s a way to do it. So, before you whip out your paintbrush and roller and embark on a DIY home improvement project, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of. Here’s everything you need to know about painting vinyl siding.

=> PDF Supplemental Guide to Painting Vinyl Siding

What Is Vinyl Siding Exactly?

Plastic siding panels in different colors.

This is a type of durable plastic exterior cladding for your home used to enhance its appearance and weatherproof it at the same time. It is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – a lightweight, durable, and highly versatile piece of ingenuity. That’s where the “vinyl” part of its name comes from – in case you were wondering.

One of the great things about it is the sheer amount of convenience that comes with it. It precludes the need to incur expensive costs on maintenance every few years, compared with other forms of exterior cladding – which is also great news for your wallet.

Several different types of vinyl siding exist in the market today. They are categorized based on color, price, thickness, width, profile, and texture. Unless you intend to replace your vinyl siding periodically (which beats the whole purpose of installing it in the first place), you need to choose the right type as this will impact your home’s overall look and curb appeal for several years to come.

Some of the popular types you’ll come across include:

  • Beaded Seam
  • Board and Batten
  • Cedar Shake
  • Clapboard
  • Dutch Lap
  • Half-round
  • Hand-split Shakes
  • Insulated Vinyl
  • Traditional Lap
  • Traditional Shake
  • Wood Grain

Can You Paint Vinyl Siding – Factors to Consider

The short answer is: Yes, you can. But there are a few things you need to consider before you do.

The Integrity of the Existing Siding

A man installs beige siding panels on the home facade.

If the existing siding is worn, torn, or weathered, no amount of paint can fix that, especially if you’re doing it to cut down on the costs associated with replacing the panels entirely. Besides, siding is supposed to protect your home from the harsh outdoor elements. So, consider replacing old panels with new ones before upgrading the exterior color.

Warranty

Before embarking on this home improvement project, it’s a good idea to refer to the manufacturer’s warranty on your exterior vinyl panels and check if painting voids it. If it’s already expired, then it doesn’t matter anyway.

You also need to clarify what your home insurance policy covers. Some insurers might not honor a claim in the event of vinyl siding damage if they can blame it on the paint.

Benefits of Painting Vinyl Siding

Closeup of a home's exterior vinyl siding.

It’s not realistic to expect siding to keep its original fresh-looking luster forever. Eventually, it will start to show signs of wear after several years of sun and rain exposure, not to mention the grime build-up.

If you weigh the pros and cons of painting vinyl siding, it proves to be a great and cost-effective way to spruce up your home without having to break the bank to do it. Here are some of the top benefits.

Massive Savings

Vinyl siding costs anywhere between $2 and $7 per square foot. If your house already has it and you’re looking to replace it if it is old and worn, you’ll have to engage a contractor to remove and dispose of the existing one. This huge undertaking is likely to cost between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on how big your house is.

Installing new panels on an average-sized two-story house with three bedrooms costs anywhere between $4,000 and $15,000 depending on the contractor you hire, the location of your home, and the type siding panels used. So, you’re looking at spending around $8000 to $10,000 on the lower end of the price spectrum.

The cost to paint vinyl siding, on the other hand, will run you somewhere in the ballpark of $3,000 from start to finish. So, if you don’t have the financial muscle to buy and install new panels at the moment, then painting is a no-brainer.

Enhanced Aesthetics

Large family home with yellow exterior siding.

You’ll be surprised by how much difference a new coat of paint will make to the overall aesthetics of your house. More often than not, painting vinyl siding restores it to a near straight-out-of-the-factory appearance.

Nevertheless, if you’ve just grown tired of seeing the same old color every time you come home, painting is a great cost-effective way to jump on the latest color trend to give your house a whole different look!

Adds a Layer of Protection

After a few years of exposure to Mother Nature’s harsh elements, the outer protective covering of the siding will inevitably start to peel off, albeit after several years. This increases the risk of widespread damage to other structural components of your house, which might cost an arm and a leg to replace.

If this is the current condition of your house, adding a coat of paint should do the trick. It will keep your house weatherproof for a long time to come.

Bumps up the Value of Your Home

SOLD home signage with a blurred background of the house.

Your house is an investment, whether you’re currently living in it or renting it out to tenants. Either way, when the time comes, and you want to let it go for something newer and swankier, you want to ensure that you get the best possible price for it.

You certainly won’t achieve this if the exterior looks old and dingy. So, giving your house a facelift with a fresh coat of paint over old vinyl sidings will see you fetch top-dollar for it when it’s time to sell.

Increases the Lifespan of the Existing Siding

Vinyl sidings are an absolute lifesaver given how low-cost and easy they are to maintain. If you’re being honest, the whole reason why you had them installed in the first place is that you wanted a cheaper, low-maintenance alternative to keeping your house looking brand new at a fraction of the costs.

If you want to stretch the lifespan of your exterior vinyl installation, even more, a coat of paint will do it. Regardless of how old it is or the specific types of panels you had installed, painting it is guaranteed to extend its lifespan compared to leaving it bare.

Types of Vinyl Siding That You Can Paint

All vinyl siding is made from PVC. So, regardless of the type that you’ve installed in your home, it can indeed be painted.

You just need to ensure that you use a high-quality acrylic primer to prep the surface and then use at least two coats of high-quality acrylic paint, you’ll get the results you desire. Remember, poor quality equals poor results.

How to Paint Vinyl Siding – The Ultimate Guide

So, you’ve run the numbers, weighed all the pros and cons, and determined that painting vinyl siding is the best thing for you, your bank balance, and your home. The stars seem to have aligned, and it’s now time to get started.

Here’s a step-by-step run-down of how to paint vinyl siding.

Step 1: Surface Inspection before Painting Vinyl Siding

Horizontal white plastic siding with a big crack.

There’s honestly nothing sadder and more frustrating than completing a home improvement project only for it to come apart a few weeks later. It’s enough to drive anyone to tears. So, if you don’t want to resign yourself to this fate and have everyone questioning your sanity when it all goes to hell, get in touch with an expert to come out to your home and do a thorough inspection of the state of the current sidings.

While the surface may look great, it’s easy to miss something crucial, especially if you don’t even know what you should be looking for. For instance, if you’ve bumped the side of your house a couple of times with the lawnmower or while playing catch with the kids, tiny cracks may have formed that you may not even notice.

Painting over it may seem like a quick and easy fix. But, you may not be aware of the potential havoc these minuscule cracks can wreak in the future. They’ll let in moisture, which could compromise not just the paint and siding itself, but also the structural integrity of the entire house. So, rope in an expert from the get-go and have them give your vinyl siding a clean bill of health before you start.

Step 2: Choose the Right Paint Colors

Seven paints of different colors and a paint brush on top of them.

Just because cyan and magenta are your two favorite colors in the world doesn’t mean you should paint your home in those colors – much to the disdain of the HOA and your next-door neighbors. Well, you could, but you shouldn’t. Before you embark on a vinyl siding paint job, or any paint job for that matter, you need to consider a couple of things:

Type of Paint

Before you go buying gallons of paint for your project, make sure you choose the right kind. Some paint types simply won’t adhere to the surface of the vinyl. Your best bet is to go with latex urethane paint if you’d rather skip the primer phase and get straight to it. Conventional acrylic paints will also do the job, but only if you prime the surface using an adhesive primer.

Paint Color

The rule of thumb when it comes to vinyl siding paint colors is that darker shades attract heat and lighter ones don’t. You might not consider this important until summer hits, and you can’t, for the life of you, figure out why your house is always so warm all of a sudden. Using dark colors for vinyl siding may not always be a great idea in warmer regions.

Can You Paint Vinyl Siding? Seek Expert Advice

No great decision made in the history of human-kind ever began with the phrase, “Well, how hard can it be…?” If you’d rather skip the lesson on how hard it can be, talk to a paint expert in advance before making unforgiving mistakes that will end up costing you a pretty penny in the long run.

Step 3: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Man washing a home's exterior siding.

Make no mistake about it. There’s no such thing as being too prepared. If you don’t, you’ll make a mess of your new paint job and leave your house looking worse than it did before.

The preparation process for painting vinyl siding involves:

  • Cleaning the entire exterior surface with a household cleaning detergent to get all the dirt and grime off. You can also prepare a cleaning solution using a mixture of water and white vinegar or warm water with powdered oxygen bleach.
  • Use a washcloth or a soft bristle brush to work-in the solution and remove all the dirt and grime before following it up with a rinse.
  • Remove loose and peeling vinyl surfaces that might get in the way of achieving a smooth finish
  • If there are any small holes or dents on the surface, be sure to fill them up with an appropriate epoxy-based filler
  • Apply painter’s tape to the edges to achieve neat and professional paint lines
  • Prepare your rollers for the task ahead by removing any lint on the surface using painter’s tape
  • Ensure that you use the right tools to get the job done right. These include brushes for small hard-to-reach places, ladders, hooks, and drop sheets as required
  • Always paint in the summer since that’s when it is typically dry and warm

Step 4: Applying Primer

Stirring a mix of oil-based warm white paint.

The next phase involves determining if you need to apply a primer. It may not be necessary for all projects, but if the paint color is vastly different from that of the siding, applying a primer first will be necessary.

That aside, it provides the proper adhesion to ensure that the paint you apply sticks on the surface. To apply primer properly:

  • First, stir it to reintegrate any chemical separation
  • Pour some of it into a paint tray and use a paintbrush for application around the edges of the panels and a roller for the wider surfaces
  • Don’t make the layers too thick and let it dry properly before applying paint

Step 5: Painting

Closeup of the act of painting the wooden slot and key board with white using a brush.

Painting is a lot harder than it looks. If this is your first go at doing this, now’s not the time to find out how great (or horrible) your painting skills are. When in doubt, hire a professional to do it for you.

Follow the steps outlined below to properly paint your vinyl siding:

  • Ensure that you’re working with a primed surface that’s already dry
  • To minimize the scratches and dents that may come about when leaning a ladder against the exterior surface of your wall, wrap the top edges in soft sponges or cloths to reduce the pressure exerted
  • Apply your desired paint with a roller and save the brush for the edges and corners
  • Coat the entire surface evenly ensuring that you don’t apply too much paint in any single section
  • Once you’ve applied the first coat leave to dry for 24 hours before returning to apply a second coat
  • More often than not, two coats of paint should suffice. But if the color is still not up to par after the second coat has completely dried, an additional layer may be required
  • Once you’ve finished painting, clean your rollers, brush, and any other tools that may have come into contact with paint using warm water and detergent to get rid of the excess debris
  • Use a paint thinner to remove stubborn paint residue from the brushes and rollers and any surfaces like windows and doorknobs that may have paint stains

When to Hire a Professional for Your Paint Job

You might be torn between hiring a professional and embarking on a DIY paint project. Well, if you have previous experience painting vinyl siding and it turned out great, by all means, go right ahead and do it yourself.

But if it’s your first time, this type of paint job is a little different. If you’re not diligent with the prep work or end up applying the paint unevenly, the entire project could go wrong. The average cost of hiring a painter to do it for you is around $20 to $50 an hour or $2 to $6 per square foot.

This is nothing compared to the cost having to fix a bad paint job if you decided to do it yourself, especially if you don’t know how to get paint off vinyl siding. Professional painters are also likely to do it for you in a fraction of the time, so it’s a win-win any way you slice it.

=> PDF Supplemental Guide to Painting Vinyl Siding

Related: Different Types of House Siding | Types of Vinyl Siding Tools

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