Vinyl siding is commonly considered to be relatively maintenance-free, mainly because it does not have to be painted. It comes with a color mixed with the material that is more or less permanent. But over time the color can fade, often unevenly on different areas of the house, due to the different rates of sun exposure. And whether it's faded or not, if you weren't the one to pick the siding, you might not like the color.
The good news is that you can paint vinyl siding. Just be aware that the siding will be only as maintenance-free as the paint itself. Also, there are some rules and limitations to follow when painting vinyl siding. Most importantly, confirm that painting the siding won't void its warranty if it is still in effect. If the warranty permits painting, be sure to comply with any of the siding manufacturer's stipulations, such as the type and color of paint to use.
Using Primer on Vinyl Siding
There are different schools of thought regarding primer. Some pros use it in almost every project, while others start with primer only when it's warranted by the condition of the siding. For example, a primer may be recommended if the siding is pitted or shows other signs of deterioration or severe weathering. A simple solution is to follow the advice of your paint manufacturer. Keep in mind that paint sticks to the layer directly beneath it, whether that layer is bare siding or primer. If you do use a primer, make sure the paint is formulated to stick to it.
Expect Thermal Expansion
It's important to understand that vinyl siding is designed to be installed so that it slides back and forth slightly at its overlapping seams, moving with the expansion and contraction of the material. When the siding contracts in cold weather, you may have a slight color gap at the seams.
Choose a Safe Color
Every type of vinyl siding is designed for a specific amount of heat absorption. Because dark colors absorb more heat than light colors, don't choose a paint color that is darker than the original siding color.
A dark color may absorb more heat than the vinyl siding was designed to handle, possibly leading to warping or buckling of the siding.
Quality paint manufacturers offer paints specifically formulated for vinyl siding and usually specify a variety of "vinyl safe" colors—that is, colors that won't absorb too much heat. Many paints for vinyl are a blend of urethane and acrylic resins, combining flexibility and excellent adhesion.
Whatever color you pick, make sure you get the right amount with the help of The Spruce's Paint Calculator.
Equipment / Tools
- Garden hose and spray nozzle
- Soft-bristle brush, sponges, or rags
- Paint roller with 3/8-inch nap or 1/2-inch nap roller covers or spray paint equipment
- Paint brushes
- Laundry detergent
- General-purpose cleaning powder
- Oxygen bleach
- Painter's tape
- Masking material
Mix the Cleaner
Mix a cleaning solution containing 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent, 2/3 cup of general-purpose powdered household cleaner (such as Spic and Span or Super Washing Soda), and 2/3 cup of oxygen bleach (such as OxyClean) for each gallon of water. Stir the solution well in a bucket
Clean the Siding
Rinse the siding with clean water from a hose, then hand-scrub the siding to remove all dirt, grease, and chalkiness, using a soft-bristled brush, sponge, or rag. Work from the bottom up, and thoroughly rinse each section immediately after scrubbing. Direct the water stream downward to prevent getting water behind the siding. Let the siding dry completely.
Hand-scrubbing is more effective and safer for the siding than a pressure washing, which can force water behind the siding.
Mask off Trim, Doors, and Windows
Use painter's tape and masking paper or plastic sheeting to mask off any areas you do not want to be painted, including doors, windows, trim, and hardware.
Prime the Siding (Optional)
Apply the primer (if you are using one) to all of the surfaces to be painted, using a paint sprayer, roller with a 3/8-inch nap (for smooth surfaces) cover, roller with a 1/2-inch nap (for rougher surfaces) cover, or a paintbrush. If you use a roller or sprayer, always back brush—following up the roller or sprayer application with a brush to ensure full coverage and remove drips and heavy areas. Let the primer dry as directed.
Apply the Paint
Paint the cleaned or primed surfaces with an even coat of exterior paint, using the same techniques used for priming. Let the first coat dry as directed by the paint manufacturer. Apply a second coat, and let it dry.
Clean up the Site
Remove all masking materials, and complete any final detail painting and touch-ups with a paintbrush.