Is Painting My Aluminum Siding A Bad Idea?

Many Northeast Ohio homes that were built in the 60s, 70s and 80s were finished with aluminum siding. Homeowners were led to believe that the exteriors of their homes would be “maintenance free.” If you own a home that was built in that era, or if you own a home that was resided during that time, you have no doubt realized that this is not the case.  Because of exposure to the sun, most aluminum siding begins to become “chalky” and fades after about 15 years. Once this happens, the original baked-on enamel coating washes off with heavy rain.

If this describes your home’s exterior, you may be looking for a way to improve its appearance. Many homeowners are quick to dismiss the idea of painting their aluminum siding for fear of it chipping right off. But is replacement really your only option?

The Possibilities of Paint

Actually, repainting your aluminum siding is a great solution if it is done correctly. Under normal circumstances, a properly completed job will last upwards of 15 years. Most homeowners will power-wash their siding before painting, and this is an essential step. However, the key to a long-lasting job is to hand-scrub the entire exterior surface with detergent during this process. Many people—even some painting contractors—skip this step because it’s very time consuming and requires a lot of elbow grease, but this single step can make your paint job last up to four times as long! It is also important to note that some companies mix bonding additives to the paint before applying it, claiming this allows them to skip the power-washing and scrubbing steps entirely. At Neubert Painting, we have found that this solution is not effective because the paint still needs a sound surface with which to bind.

So why not just replace it with a vinyl product? First, it is much more cost effective to repaint aluminum siding. In fact, refinishing aluminum siding is approximately one-third the cost of new vinyl siding. Moreover, vinyl siding is not as “maintenance free” as you might think. After about 15 years, the vinyl begins to fade and lose its finish as well. Finally, while vinyl siding manufacturers may offer a dozen or so color choices, paint offers almost limitless color possibilities.

Better to Hire a Pro?

While it is possible to repaint your aluminum siding on your own, keep in mind that the materials and equipment needed to do the job are expensive. This cost, coupled with the extensive prep work exterior painting requires and the fact that mastering a paint sprayer is harder than it looks might make house painting too challenging for most homeowners.

If you decide to hire a professional for your siding project, research the contractors that advertise this service. Ask for references that extend back at least five years. This will give you a better idea of their workmanship and the longevity of their completed jobs. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau. A good contractor should have an A rating, or at least will have resolved any complaints made against their company. Also, make sure that all job specifics, including products to be used, length of time to complete the job and any warranty information, is spelled out in the contract. Repainting aluminum siding is a viable and economical solution. However, getting a professional result requires intense surface preparation, high-quality products and proper execution of the project from start to finish.

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Volume 6, Issue 13, Posted 8:18 AM, 06.30.2010