ASK THE PAINTER: Can I Paint Vinyl Siding?

We really hate the colour of our vinyl siding, but it’s still in good shape and it seems a shame to replace it. Can we paint it?

The short answer is: Yes, you can usually paint vinyl siding.

The longer answer is: But there are some caveats.

Proper preparation is crucial

The key to successfully painting your vinyl siding, and making it last for several years, is proper preparation: In order for the paint to properly adhere to the siding, it has to be really, really clean and free of any ‘greasy’ dirt (which can be a problem if you live near a highway or very busy road) that may have accumulated. This may involve using a power washer or even doing some areas (such as around windows) by hand.

If your siding is quite old and has started to become faded or porous, you should probably consider priming (or spot priming).

Choose the right type of paint – and make sure it’s good quality

One of the challenges with vinyl siding is that it tends to expand and contract significantly in response to heat and cold – and of course here in Canada we can definitely have extremes of both. So it’s crucial to select the right kind of paint, and to think twice before buying the cheapest one on the shelf.

Here’s what to look for:

  • A latex urethane paint designed specifically for exterior use
  • Paint that contains acrylic and urethane resins which will allow for the expansion and contraction – and which will help it to stick to the vinyl or primer underneath
  • A paint that is either the same shade or lighter than the colour of your siding. Dark colours tend to attract and retain heat, which can exacerbate the expansion – and that can lead to premature cracking or warping

This is one of those times when the paint expert at your local hardware store might be a good source of information – s/he may have some insight as to what other customers have used with success.

Get the weather on your side

You already know you shouldn’t do any house painting on super-hot or super-cold days. When painting exterior vinyl, it’s particularly important to avoid any extremes: Too much direct sun, too much heat or humidity, and freezing temperatures will all cause your paint job to turn out poorly. Try to paint on a mild spring or fall day, without much wind (you don’t want dust, pollen or leaves blowing into your paint), sunlight (an overcast day is best) or rain (for obvious reasons).

The bottom line?

You don’t have to be afraid of painting your vinyl siding. You just have to be prepared, take your time, and spend the money for the best paint you can.