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REAL ESTATE

Can You Paint Vinyl Siding? Yes, If You Do It Right

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Vinyl siding (AnkNet)

Vinyl siding is a wildly popular exterior covering for a home for good reason: It's inexpensive and durable, often coming with a lifetime warranty. So, it lasts and lasts … and lasts. Does this mean that you're going to be stuck with the original color for the entire time you own your home? It comes in all sorts of colors -- but what if you decide you want a different hue?

Relax. There's no need to replace the exterior; you can paint the vinyl siding instead. You just need to know how to do it right. Here are the steps to take.

Step No. 1: Pick the right paint

In the past, painting vinyl siding wasn't possible because the paint wouldn't fully adhere to the siding; even if some did, it would eventually crack and flake as the siding expanded and contracted because of weather changes. But no more. Today, there are plenty of paints deemed "vinyl safe," so be sure to home in on this variety and you should be in the clear.

Primer shouldn't be necessary for vinyl siding, unless the surface is pitted or the original color has faded so much that the siding panels have become porous. In that case, be sure to find primer specifically made for vinyl siding.

And as with regular house paint, vinyl-safe paints come in different finishes. According to Scott Brown, a professional exterior painter, "the satin finish works better" for vinyl siding rather than matte or high gloss, because it mimics the vinyl's original sheen.

Step No. 2: Pick the right day to paint

Wait for a day with moderate temperatures, low humidity, and little or no chance of rain -- even if you're using vinyl-safe paint, humidity and extreme temperature can affect how well it adheres.

Try to avoid unusually hot days; when the siding shrinks in cooler temperatures, it may expose the unpainted seams between your panels, warns Donald McKenna, founder of McKenna Exteriors. If this happens, you can touch up those gaps -- or you can sidestep this chore by choosing a paint that's extremely similar to the shade of the original vinyl.

Step No. 3: Prep your siding before you paint

Wash the siding first to ensure the paint adheres properly. This doesn't require an extraordinary effort. You can clean the surface as you would for normal maintenance, with water and a little liquid soap, as well as a scrub brush for any areas caked with dirt or mildew. You can also use a pressure washer if you are careful not to force water behind the siding panels, which could cause water damage or even mold.

Once the siding is clean and dry, make minor repairs if necessary: Lightly sand peeling edges, replace missing or bent nails, and replace any vinyl siding panels that have warped or buckled over time.

Step No. 4: Use the right tools

Due to the ridges in vinyl siding, this is one paint job where a roller is not your friend, because it won't be able to get paint into the gaps and overlaps between your siding panels. Instead, use a regular paint brush and apply paint from side to side, top to bottom (this will help cover up drips). A paint sprayer is another option, though inexperienced users might have to worry about drips and an even coat.

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