To Paint or Not to Paint Your Siding

A homeowner painting his siding.

Odds are one of the reasons you chose siding for your home was because its ease of maintenance. It doesn't matter if you have vinyl and aluminum, or some of the up and comers like fiberglass and cement, with a little pressure washing every few years, you’ve got siding that looks good as new. As the years pass, you may notice the luster not returning and you’re think about painting your siding.

Wood and cement siding are a little different, and we'll save those for another day. So, instead, lets look at the more standard manufactured sidings.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Paint

There are some people out there that say you should never paint your siding. When it gets worn looking, replace it. It’s a valid statement if you have the money.

If the siding is damaged and you need to replace several planks anyway, then painting may end up being more trouble than it’s worth. You might as well just replace the whole thing with something you like.

Don’t paint your siding if you simply want something a little different, either. The days of only white siding are over. There are many different shades and textures available. If you only want a new color, then painting could be a long a laborious process that could have been avoided if you visited the local siding dealer.

Benefits of Painting Your Siding

If you don't have the money to replace your siding, then coat of paint is an easy way to bring back that shine and luster. Over time, dirt, grime, and the constant beating of the sun can cause the siding to fade and become so dirty even pressure washing won't save it. Paint can help bring back its original color.

The protective coatings on the siding can also wear, leading to damage and potential sealing issues. Paint adds a whole new layer of protection that you wouldn't normally have. It also adds a little weight to the siding, making it more difficult to be blown off in bad weather.

So, You’re Going to Paint Your Siding

You’ve weighed the pros and cons and either it seems like the right idea for you or you can’t afford a complete siding replacement. Painting manufactured siding isn’t like painting an interior room or a standard exterior like wood or stucco.

There are several different types of siding out there from wood to aluminum and vinyl. There are two main issues that you have to deal with when painting siding: slipping and thermal expansion. The siding is designed to have water run off it, so it has less wear and tear through the years when it rains. The reason rain water slides off your siding is the same reason why your paint may as well.

Water-based paints will have a hard time sticking to vinyl siding, so it’s best to use vinyl paint that is made with acrylic and urethane resins that help it stick to the vinyl. You may have to use several coats, especially if the new color is vastly different than the original.

Thermal expansion is a bit trickier. Siding expand and contracts with the heat and the cold. This expansion can be difficult on paint as it can cause chipping and other problems. Latex paints are made from a rubber and designed to withstand a certain level of expansion and contraction. It will work well with wood siding and to some extent aluminum siding, but since it’s water-based, it’s not a good fit for vinyl.

Tips for Painting Siding

Paint in the Shadows - Never paint siding while in direct sunlight. The thermal expansion will occur as the temperature increases and that can be nightmare as the paint dries. Instead, paint during the evening or while that area of the house is covered in shadow.

Dark Colors Can Spell Trouble - If you have a white or light colored siding and are painting it a darker color, you could end up with some severe warping of the siding. Dark colors absorb heat and will make the siding hotter than normal. This can cause extreme thermal expansion and, thus, warping.

There are pros and cons to painting siding. It is important to weigh your options before you start. Is it right for you?