Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Painting Vinyl Siding

Last week I did a staging consultation for a couple whose house has been on the market for six months, to no avail. The house has vinyl siding with a great deal of dirt and mildew, and the paint on the trim and shutters is in poor condition, so cleaning and painting were among my top recommendations. The sellers had been afraid to pressure-wash for fear of damaging the windows, and they thought the vinyl siding couldn't be painted.

I understand their concerns about pressure-washing because all too often the person doing it is an amateur who uses too much pressure and causes damage. The answer is to use the right cleaner (and the right person) for the job, and to let the cleaner, not high pressure, do the work. As for being unable to paint vinyl siding, it's a common misconception.

Vinyl siding can be painted, if it's done the right way. Vinyl is a non-porous material that expands with heat and can buckle, making paint adhesion and elasticity key concerns. Look at your siding to see if it's already buckling because applying paint could aggravate the problem. Read the warranty on your siding if you're tempted to paint newer vinyl, just for a color change. You could void it.

Here are some other things you need to know:

  • Before you paint, thoroughly clean the siding to remove dirt, mold and any chalking caused by the deterioration of the vinyl.
  • Use a high quality latex paint with a blend of urethane and acrylic resins. It's easy to apply, has superior adhesion and is more likely to withstand the movement of the vinyl as temperatures change. 
  • Talk with the experts at your local paint store and ask them to recommend a product. Describe the condition of your house to determine if priming is needed. Some companies such as Sherwin Williams have a special line of paints designed for use on vinyl siding.
  • Avoid dark colors. The rule of thumb is for the new color to be no darker than the existing one. White vinyl can be painted, if you pick a light color and use the appropriate product.
  • For the paint to cure properly, don't apply it in direct sunlight, or on a hot day, or when rain threatens!    
The marketing hype is that vinyl siding will last forever and be virtually maintenance-free, but unfortunately vinyl does deteriorate and the color will fade over time. If your vinyl siding isn't looking its best, consider painting it, but do your homework first.

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