How to Remove Paint from Vinyl Siding

Colorful Shiplap Siding on Houses

fotog / Getty Images

Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $20

Vinyl siding has a unique ability to shed water and debris like no other type of siding. This also means that it can be relatively straight-forward to remove paint from in some cases.

One reason is that vinyl siding is a through-body material—the color continues all the way through, from top to bottom. Unlike wood or fiber-cement siding, the vinyl type has no top layer that might peel away in the process of trying to remove the paint. It also helps that vinyl doesn't bond with paint very well. For this reason, when painting vinyl, special paints must be used.

So, what makes changing the color of vinyl siding with paint a short-term prospect is actually a good thing when you want to remove the paint.

Basics of Removing Paint From Vinyl Siding

  • Wet Water-Based Paint: Water-based latex house paint can be cleaned up with water. Using warm water and adding detergent is even more effective.
  • Dry Water-Based Paint: Fully cured water-based latex paint can be peeled or scoured off.
  • Wet Oil-Based Paint: Wet oil-based paint must be cleaned with a petroleum-based product like mineral spirits or paint thinner.
  • Dry Oil-Based Paint: Dried oil-based paint is not as pliable as latex paint and must be scraped or chipped away.

Further details for how to deal with each of these paint types on vinyl siding are outlined below.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft nylon brush
  • Clean towels
  • Plastic scraper
  • Putty knife
  • Power washer
  • Latex or nitrile gloves
  • #320 sandpaper
  • Kitchen scrubber

Materials

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Laundry detergent
  • Mineral spirits or paint thinner

Instructions

Wet Water-Based Paint

  1. Wipe Off the Paint

    Use a clean, dry towel to wipe off as much of the paint as you can. Be careful not to spread the paint.

  2. Clean With Detergent Mix

    Mix warm water with laundry detergent in a plastic or glass container. Use a soft nylon scrubber to brush this mixture on the remaining paint.

  3. Clean With Alcohol

    If traces of the paint or pigment remain on the siding, clean them off with a clean cloth and isopropyl alcohol.

Dry Water-Based Paint

  1. Peel Off the Paint by Hand

    Large fully cured drips of paint can be peeled off with a fingernail.

  2. Use a Plastic Scraper

    If peeling off the paint with a fingernail doesn't work or if paint remains, switch to using a plastic scraper. Push under the paint to try to remove it.

  3. Power Wash the Paint

    Gentle power-washing may remove the remainder of the paint. Keep the power washer nozzle on a broad spray. Be sure to spray from about 2 feet away. Spraying closer may crack the vinyl siding. Spray only at-level or above; spraying from below may force water under the siding.

  4. Light Sanding

    If some paint remains, sand it lightly with very fine grit #320 or #220 sandpaper. Sanding may lighten the vinyl material, so this works best on lighter colored vinyl siding.

Wet Oil-Based Paint

  1. Clean the Paint With Paint Thinner

    Oil-based paint cannot be cleaned up with water or even warm soapy water. So, use paint thinner or mineral spirits with a clean rag to clean up the paint immediately. Use latex gloves while doing this.

  2. Switch to Alcohol

    After the area has dried, clean further with isopropyl alcohol on a clean rag. Often, hard scrubbing can remove embedded pigment.

  3. Clean With Soapy Water

    To clean off remaining paint, as well as any thinner residue, wash off the siding with warm soapy water. Rinse off thoroughly with fresh water.

Dry Oil-Based Paint

  1. Scrape the Paint

    Dried oil-based paint is considerably harder than latex water-based paint to remove. First, try scraping with a plastic scraper. If that does not work, switch to a sharpened putty knife. Keep the putty knife flat to the surface to minimize scraping.

  2. Use a Kitchen Scrubber

    Use a nylon kitchen scrubber with force to try to remove the remaining paint that the putty knife could not remove.

  3. Clean With Acetone

    Clean off flakes of the oil-based paint with acetone applied to a clean cloth.

  4. Clean the Area

    Clean off the entire area with warm soapy water and a scrubber. Rinse with cool, clean water.

Further Tips For Removing Paint From Vinyl Siding

  • Siding that was dirty before being stained with paint is an advantage because the paint will not stick as well to dirt.
  • Larger drips and globs are easier to remove than a fine mist because they can often simply be peeled off.
  • Lighter-colored vinyl siding may still show paint pigment after the paint solids have been removed. Gently sand this away or leave it as-is.
  • Nylon kitchen scrubbers can be applied to the paint stain with great force without fear of damaging the siding.