7 Tips and Tricks for Painting Aluminum Siding

If it is time to paint over those chips and cracks on aluminum siding, these tips and tricks for painting aluminum siding will help you do the job right.  Exterior paint wears down over time from the sun, rain, and cold. Cracked paint on aluminum siding is not just a cosmetic problem. When cracks occur, over time they allow air to penetrate the aluminum. Air oxidizes aluminum, causing damage, so it is important to repaint your aluminum siding every few years. Below are a few tips to get the most out of painting aluminum siding and make it last longer.

1. Paint in Fall, Not Summer

Paint needs time to dry. If it dries too slowly, such as in humidity, or too fast, such as when exposed to wind or direct sunlight, it will not have time to cure. Paint needs to dry slowly to properly bond to the surface. Choose a season and week where the weather is going to be dry and overcast.  Early fall is an ideal time to paint in most regions.  If you can't work it into your schedule to paint during the proper weather, wait until next year.

2. Don't Use a Power Washer

Paint needs to be applied to a clean dry surface, free from loose particles. Unless you are a professional, do not use a power washer. Although a power washer is the easiest option to remove dirt from siding, water can get behind the siding. Water behind the siding could cause a leak in your house. The safest way to clean the siding for paint preparation is to use a large sponge and mild detergent

3. Take the Time to Sand

Sanding an entire house exterior is painstaking work, but it's worth it. Sanding the siding will remove chipped paint and dirt that washing can't. To make the job easier, use an electric sander.

4. Use Oil, Not Latex Primer

Use a thinned oil based metal priming paint. To thin the primer, use 1 pint of regular paint thinner per 1 gallon of paint. Do not use a latex based paint as a primer. Latex primer contains ammonia. Paints with ammonia will bubble when used on metal. 

5. Tint Your Primer

Consider tinting the primer with the paint you intend to use as a finish. This will give your finish paint a more even color consistency. Tinting the primer may also reduce the number of top coats necessary.

6. Use Application Equipment You Know How to Use

If you have never used an airless sprayer before, don't use one now. If you don't know how to use a paint sprayer you may end up with uneven thicknesses. Use a foam hand roller for a smooth finish and a high quality brush for the parts the roller won't reach.

7. Don't Be Cheap

For the finish, it is acceptable to use acrylic latex paint since you have the oil based primer applied, but don't skimp on the paint. The more expensive, the higher the acrylic resin content.  If you don't want to have to repaint again in the next couple years, opt for more expensive paint. Use a low luster or satin finish for a factory finished look.