Painting Vinyl Siding with Confidence

Aged or faded vinyl siding can be painted if you prepare the surface properly and purchase vinyl-safe colors and exterior paint. Painting exterior-grade vinyl is relatively straightforward, but proper precautions are essential to ensure a long-lasting and uniform finish. 

Inexperienced painters often make mistakes when painting vinyl, leading to peeling paint, uneven finishes, and even siding damage. 

If you want to change the color of your siding, we will help you transform your home by unfolding all dos and don’ts, ensuring a uniform, long-lasting finish that wows the neighbors.

Benefits of Painting & Revitalizing Old Vinyl Siding

The ability to paint vinyl widens your color options, adding beauty and value to your home. Additionally, painting your house protects surfaces from further degradation from sunlight, moisture, and other environmental elements. The ability to seal and protect the siding will increase its lifespan, preventing you from having to replace it.

Painting vinyl siding is a cost-effective way to protect, renew, and instantly transform your home at a fraction of the cost. However, we do not recommend painting new vinyl siding that is under seven years old. It’s best to wait until the surface has oxidized or lost its sheen, as slick surfaces always introduce a challenge for paint adhesion. So, painting is not a solution if you choose the wrong siding color for your new home. 

Steps to Preparing the Surface to Paint

So, we have established that painting is possible, but surface preparation is the most critical factor in successfully painting vinyl siding. Following our steps and recommendations will ensure optimal adhesion and a lasting finish that you won’t be able to tell has been painted. 

How to Paint Vinyl

Here are the professional steps to follow:

  1. Clean the surface: Thoroughly wash surfaces to remove dirt, grime, mildew, or mold. Use a mild detergent mixed with bleach and water to kill all organic growth. If you don’t have a pressure washer, use a soft brush or sponge to scrub the surface. Wait 10-30 minutes, rinse the siding with clean water, and let it dry completely.
  2. Repair Any Damages: Inspect the siding for holes, cracks, splits, or tears. Use a siding patch kit from the manufacturer or a vinyl-specific patching compound. Smooth and sand the surface using sandpaper or an orbital sander.
  3. Remove Loose Paint and Foreign Materials: Scrap and sand any loose paint using a plastic putty knife to prevent it from scratching the siding. Sand the edges of the remaining paint to reduce the visibility of the scraped area.
  4. Protect the Surrounding Areas: We always cover plants, windows, and walkways to keep those areas clean. Use painter’s plastic for the windows and shrubs and canvas drop cloths for walkways and horizontal surfaces subject to foot traffic.

The Best Paint Type for Vinyl Siding

Another vital part of the process is choosing an exterior paint that will not damage the siding and will stick to the surface. Follow these recommendations closely to prevent warping, wrinkling, and any deformities.

Here are the paint qualities to look for and factors to consider.

  1. Use acrylic latex paint because of its adhesion, flexibility, and resistance to cracking and peeling. Don’t use oil-based paints; it could cause damage to the siding.
  2. Look for UV protection in the paint you choose to mitigate how susceptible vinyl siding is to color fade, bleaching, and oxidation. Doing so will help maintain the color and sheen of your siding for longer.
  3. Choose vinyl-safe colors. Darker colors absorb more heat, increasing surface temperatures. Vinyl siding with temperatures exceeding 160 degrees causes warping, wrinkling, and buckling. Dark colors fade quicker than others and generally suffer from adhesion loss. Tip: Light to medium colors are the best choices, especially in hot climates.
  4. Check the manufacturer’s warranty to ensure the pant is vinyl-safe and to understand the intended purpose and warranty terms.
  5. Vinyl siding must be painted in a satin or semi-gloss finish to reduce future mold and mildew growth and for a durable, easy-to-clean surface.

Tips for Painting Vinyl Siding

Your house likely has a lot of vinyl siding for you to paint. If you want the finished product to be something you are proud of, here are some tips for painting vinyl siding. 

  1. Test the Paint Color: Test the paint color in a small, inconspicuous area of your siding. Shade and lighting conditions will impact the color depth and hue. So, evaluate the test areas during different times of the day.
  2. Consider a Primer Coat: While some exterior paints claim self-priming, we recommend a light primer coat before painting if your siding shows elevated signs of oxidation. A primer will improve adhesion, enhance the durability of the paint, and provide a more unified finish. 

Tip: Choose an exterior latex primer compatible with the paint and the vinyl siding.

  1. Ladder Placement: Vinyl becomes brittle over time. Therefore, painters must be careful not to damage vinyl siding with ladder placement. Ladders must be placed in the center of the siding face. Doing so will minimize potential cracking and siding damage.
  2. Use a Paint Sprayer For the Best Finish: Airless paint sprayers offer the smoothest paint finish and are best at getting between tight areas, producing the most professional look. Eliminating brush and roller marks makes the painting less noticeable, speeds the process, and reduces the chance of paint drips. 
  3. Work Starting From Top to Bottom: Start at the top of the area and work your way down. Working in this way leaves the lower section free from wet paint that could get damaged. It also allows you to remove drips falling from above if it happens.
  4. Maintain a Wet Edge When Brushing: Maintaining a wet edge when brushing or rolling siding is pivotal to reducing paint laps and visible brush marks. Brush from left to right, advancing leftward if you are right-handed. Be sure to quickly overlap where you left off while the paint is still wet. Use a small 6-inch roller using the same approach when rolling siding.

Tip: Overlap each stroke with the previous one until you reach a corner or have painted an entire piece of siding. Don’t stop in the middle of the siding; it will leave lap marks, and you will be able to see the transition.

  1. Work In Small Sections and Apply Thin Coats: Working in small sections increases the ability to manage and control the paint going on evenly. Divide the siding into manageable sections, and be realistic about the time each will take. Apply as many thin layers of paint as needed to improve coverage and protection. 
  2. Blend Paint Between Sections: When going from one section to another, always blend or overlap the previous section by 1 foot or more. Integrating one painted area into another by lightly feathering the edges of the paint into the previous section is the best way to paint by sections. 
  3. Allow For Proper Drying Time: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying time between coats and consider the recommended paint dry time and how it affects the weather ahead. Premature exposure to rain, humidity, and ground-level moisture can cause surfactant leaching. 

Things to Avoid When Painting Vinyl Siding

  • Avoid applying excessively thick coats of paint.
  • Don’t rush painting between coats. Allow the paint to dry.
  • Avoid painting outdoors in poor weather conditions such as high humidity, extreme heat, or cold.
  • Avoid painting large sections of siding. Today’s low VOC paint standards cause them to dry quickly, and if the paint dries quicker than you can apply it, it will result in an uneven finish.
  • Avoid Dark Colors
  • Don’t use paints containing additives such as ammonia and excessive glycols.
  • Don’t skip cleaning the siding. It will trap organic growth inside the paint film and resurface over time.
  • Don’t paint vinyl siding in extreme heat or moisture.

Maintenance & Protection

Now that you have finished your vinyl siding project, you will want to take care of it. Here are a few maintenance and protection tips we use and recommend to all homeowners. 

  • Clean your vinyl siding once per year with a mild detergent, bleach, and water mix.
  • Inspect the siding annually for loose boards and look for any signs of peeling, chipping, or cracks.
  • Use low water pressure, soft sponges, and mild detergents to clean the siding. (Don’t use abrasive cleaners or stiff bristle brushes on your painted vinyl siding.) 
  • Evaluate high-traffic areas for touch-up or paint wear.

Paintable vs. Non-Paintable Vinyl

You can paint the shutters, the front door, and the siding. When painted, shutters and doors are focal points that can offer drastic exterior decor improvements. But not all vinyl is paintable.

It is vital to discern whether your shutters or doors contain paintable vinyl. Otherwise, the paint will not adhere, causing premature failures such as blistering, peeling, and bubbling. 

Mailbox posts and handrails are typically not paintable vinyl substrates, but there are exceptions—research product disclaimers before painting to see whether painting is recommended. Not all vinyl is the same, resulting in some being paintable and others not. 


High-pressure water can damage the paint or force water behind the siding, leading to moisture-related bubbling. Therefore, a low-pressure house wash is acceptable. We recommend hiring a professional to clean painted vinyl siding.

The longevity of painted vinyl siding depends on various factors, such as the quality of the paint, proper surface preparation, and how well it’s maintained. Painted vinyl siding will last 10-15 years under normal conditions and when cleaned yearly. 

Use a primer before you paint your vinyl siding when it has oxidized. A primer helps to improve adhesion, increasing long-term durability.

It is possible to paint over existing paint on vinyl siding; however, proper surface preparation, including cleaning and light sanding, is essential for optimal adhesion.

Do you have a home that has vinyl siding that needs painting. We are expert exterior painters located in Raleigh, NC and provide outstanding warranties and service quality. Contact us for professional service and exceptional product knowledge that other painters lack.

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