Painting Aluminum Siding

A Modern-Day Building Phenomena

Aluminum siding made its appearance on the house-building scene back in the 1930s but really became a primary building material for homes after World War 11. Aluminum was chosen for its resilience, lighter weight, and ease of application. The biggest problem with it over time is the propensity for dings and creases. Although it has lost some of its popularity, homes that were built using aluminum siding are here to stay and advances in production make it an attractive choice.

Today, aluminum siding comes from the factory with a long-lasting paint covering, which means it doesn't need painting for many years. However, if your home is more than 30 years old, then the paint on the siding has probably been fading and may even be down to the bare metal. The good news is that your siding can be painted. The way it is painted is best determined by the present condition of the siding.

The Secret Is In The Preparation

As with any painting project, the surface you are going to paint needs to be assessed for cleanliness and repair. Aluminum siding has been known as the surface that is "self-cleaning." What that really means is that the paint wears down slowly over time. The surface of the paint turns to powder, which sloughs off over time exposing a layer of clean, new paint. Chalking-the powdering of the paint-must be removed from the surface before painting otherwise the paint won't stick. Mildew must be cleaned off as well.

Assess And Repair

To clean the surface, remove chalk and dirt with a scrub brush on an extension handle, or a scouring pad, and regular household detergent. If mildew has been a problem, use a special cleaner designated to remove mildew. Rinse the surface thoroughly. Power washing is possible, but it is best to have a professional undertake such cleaning as siding can be dislodged with pressure washing. Since aluminum siding flexes with temperature change, using spackle to fill holes is not a good idea. Instead, paintable silicone caulking should be used to fill small holes. Larger holes can be filled with auto-body filler or aluminum patches can be made. Use an exterior oil-based primer that is designed for aluminum siding. The other types of primers do not adhere well.

After It's Primed, Paint With Acrylic Paint

Paint the surface with two coats of 100 percent acrylic exterior paint over the primer. Choosing a lighter color to paint the exterior of your house can not only increase longevity of the paint job, but can also decrease cooling costs in summer. To avoid accentuating flaws on the surface of the siding, use a flat or eggshell finish. Painting can be performed with a roller, brush, or sprayer. Just remember that if you decide to spray paint, it is necessary to cover everything you don't want painted-such as windows. If you are using brushes and rollers, purchase the best you can afford. The better the tools, the better the paint looks when it is dry.

And, From The Top...

Regardless which method you choose, begin painting at the top of the siding and work your way down. As with most paint jobs, if you are using brushes and rollers, cut the trim in first and then fill in the surface using a roller to minimize brush marks. Remove any tape you are using before it sits in the sun so it doesn't bake onto the house. Plan your day to paint in such a way that you follow the shade around your house to avoid painting in the sun, which gums up the paint.