Can you paint vinyl siding? Here’s what to consider first

Can you paint vinyl siding? If your home has vinyl siding that seems less wear-resistant or you don’t like the color of your vinyl siding anymore, you might be wondering if it’s possible to just paint it. After all, paint is a common solution for sprucing up a home with wood or plank siding.

The good news? You can paint vinyl siding, at least in most cases. There are times, however, when it’s best to skip paint ideas and install new siding instead. Plus, you’ll need to follow a strict set of instructions in order to achieve worthy results and maintain the integrity of your vinyl siding.

How to paint vinyl siding?

You can paint vinyl siding as long as you’re willing to undertake a detailed process without cutting corners, or you can have the job done by a professional.

Below, we’ve rounded up the do’s and don’ts of painting vinyl siding, along with expert advice.

1. Make sure your siding is in good condition

Before you decide to paint your vinyl siding, make sure it is in good condition i.e. there are no warping, broken or loose pieces. If so, replace those parts of the siding before you start researching how to paint the exterior of a house.

“As a general rule, you’ll want to avoid painting your siding if it’s cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, as this will only cause further damage down the line. Painting damaged siding will also void any applicable warranties,” says Matthew Malczewski of DMG Exteriorsa general contractor for outdoor home projects in Valparaiso, Indiana.

2. Give it a good cleaning

Like all painting projects, getting the results you want comes down to proper surface preparation.

“You can paint vinyl siding, but you have to prep the surface before you start painting,” says Tony Adams, a professional painter with more than 15 years of experience and a contributor to DIYgeeks.com. “If you do not clean the surface properly, the paint will peel off within a year because the paint will not stick due to the dirt on the surface.”

Preparation: Pressure wash the entire surface, plank by plank, taking care not to saturate the coating too much. “You should avoid getting water behind the vinyl siding because it could damage the vinyl later,” says Adams.

A professional painter is best suited for this job, as they will understand the correct technique and pressure to use for optimal results.

3. Choose the right paint color

Before you start thinking about exterior house painting ideas, it is important to note that vinyl siding cannot be painted a dark color. So, if you were planning to paint your vinyl siding charcoal gray or navy blue, you will need to reconsider your choice.

‘Vinyl siding that has never been painted before should not be replaced with a much darker paint color. If you currently have light beige, gray or white colored vinyl, you probably can’t change that vinyl to dark blue, dark gray or chocolate brown,” says Geoff Sharp, president and owner of Sharper Prints Paint, a paint company with operations in six states. “Newly painted darker color paint will heat up in the sun and cause your vinyl siding to bow and warp.”

However, this is common knowledge industry-wide, and most paint brands that are suitable for vinyl siding don’t even come in darker colors.

“Often vinyl safe paints are not available in darker color bases. Some paint manufacturers have brands of paint that can be tinted in many neutral color shades. Other paint brands will limit you to about a dozen color choices,” says Sharp.

If you’re keen on a darker shade, Sharp says slightly darker is OK, but sticking to a shade within a shade or two of your current color will yield the best results.

Still have questions about a color you’re considering? Talk to a paint professional or someone at your local paint store, who can point you in the right direction.

Getting the color right is worth the extra effort, Sharp points out. ‘It’s very, very important. Getting too dark with a new paint color on the vinyl siding can ruin the vinyl siding.

4. And the right paint

Color is only one important factor in choosing the right paint for your project.

You should also choose a vinyl-safe paint, with ingredients like urethane latex to make the job last.

“The paint store manager or your professional painting contractor will know which paints are safe for vinyl,” says Sharp. “The paint can label will state that the paint you selected is ‘vinyl safe,’ which means it is formulated to be applied over vinyl siding.”

Choosing just any old exterior paint can have disastrous results. “Paint failure can occur and damage to the vinyl siding underneath can show up over time,” he says.

5. Use a paint gun

Put away the brush and the roller, this work requires more sophisticated tools.

“It is advisable to spray vinyl flooring rather than using a roller. This is because the spray is faster and gives you a smooth finish,” says Adams.

Even better? Hire a painter to do the job for you, especially if you’ve never used a spray gun. “Using the right spray equipment and having it applied by an experienced professional will ensure even coverage so you only see the new color and never the old color showing through,” says Sharp.

Is it cheaper to paint vinyl siding or replace it?

Often homeowners consider painting the vinyl siding instead of replacing it in order to save money. While that’s generally true, painting vinyl siding can still be an expensive job.

As you paint, trip the coating of all the gunk that has built up. And you’ll need a pressure washer and the right chemicals for it.

Because you have to strip the siding of any built-up dirt and buy specialty paint, or hire a professional painting service to do it for you, costs can add up quickly, says Kevin Johnson, a general contractor at PlainHelp.com.

“When you take all this into account, painting your new siding will only cost about 30% less than buying new siding. Not to mention that it will last less if you repaint it instead of replacing it,” he says.

How long will a painted vinyl siding last?

If you do it right, you can expect painted vinyl siding to last 10 years or more, Sharp says.

“With the proper research, vinyl-safe paint and colors selected, vinyl surface preparation, and application with professional equipment, you can achieve a new color on your siding that will last for many years,” he said. “Normal fading should be expected from any exterior painted surface exposed to exterior weather.”

Jack L. Goldstein