Everybody knows what to do when painted wood starts to peel–get out the brush! Yet many homeowners think the only solution for faded aluminum siding is to send it to the scrap yard. They’re wrong!
Benefits of Aluminum Siding
Aluminum siding is easy to paint. Unlike vinyl, any common exterior paint will stick well to aluminum. And unlike wood slats, aluminum doesn’t swell with moisture, so paint won’t bubble or peel off easily. Also, it is impervious to wood-eating pests like termites.
According to our friends from Siding Calgary, aluminum siding has a long life span and is celebrated in the industry for its strength and durability.
Yet, aluminum siding has its issues. With earlier products, the baked-enamel coating faded quickly in the sun, eventually chipping to reveal bare metal. Even with the more modern materials, the coating on the aluminum is likely to deteriorate with age and weathering.
Millions of homes were built with aluminum siding from 1947 onward, and even today, many people choose aluminum for new constructions or home renovations.
Should You Paint or Replace Aluminum Siding?
If your siding is bent or punctured in places, those spots should be replaced. But there is no good reason to replace aluminum siding if the only problem is a faded coating or metal showing through in spots.
Step 1: Clean Your Siding!
You can paint over the factory finish on aluminum siding, but you need to remove any dirt or mildew on the surface. If your siding is older, some of the finish has probably deteriorated into a chalky white powder. When that’s the case, you need to clean the powder off before the paint will stick well.
If any bare metal is exposed, you will also need to clean the oxidation off. The quickest and easiest way to remove decades of oxidation is with a pressure washer. If you don’t have one, most home improvement stores will rent you tools for the day.
For aluminum siding, the best cleaning agent is TSP. Combined with a capful of bleach to kill any mold or mildew, TSP will cut through decades of oxidation with ease.
TSP is sold in concentrated gallons at most pool supply and hardware stores. For this application, mix one cup of concentrated TSP with each gallon of water. TSP is a very powerful chemical agent. Though it is not dangerous if handled properly, you should still use gloves and goggles while working with it. A respirator is not absolutely necessary, but it’s a good idea to protect you from whatever gets kicked up by the pressure washing.
Step 2: Prime Your Siding!
Once your siding is clean and dry, you need to apply a coat of primer. Primer contributes two things to the effort. First, primer seals in the aluminum and prevents future corrosion.
Second, primer creates a uniform surface and enhances the adhesion of whatever color you choose. There are a lot of different primers available. For aluminum siding, you want a self-etching primer made for metal. This primer uses a mild acid to bite into the surface and cuts past any oxidation to create a solid bond with the metal. If you skip the primer coat, the paint will just sit on top of the metal instead of bonding with it. This makes your paint vulnerable to damage and rough weather.
Avoid any 2-in-1 paint and primer like the plague. These products do not contain any real primer. They dry with a thicker, more durable surface, and when used inside, imitate the look of primer by creating a uniform surface. That doesn’t help with paint adhesion, though, and 2-in-1 primer is not rated for exterior use.
Step 3: Paint Your Siding!
Once your primer is dry, you can easily brush-paint or spray-paint aluminum siding. For smaller jobs, brushing or using a paint roller is the way to go. If you have a multi-story house, then you should look at using an airless paint sprayer.
You will save hours of time (and get a more professional finish) if you use a paint sprayer instead of brushes and rollers. The only downside is that you need to remove or mask off your shutters instead of just painting around them.
It is very important when working with aluminum siding to work on smaller sections, instead of trying to cover an entire wall in one go. If you are working with a brush and rollers, paint in the morning or evening. Since aluminum heats up quickly in the sun, your paint will also dry quicker.
This isn’t a problem if you are using a paint sprayer, but it is a problem if you are brushing on the paint. If you aren’t careful, the paint can dry before it has had a chance to level out, leaving unsightly brush marks and runs on your siding. As long as you use exterior-grade paint, you should not need a topcoat.
You now have all the knowledge you need to get that aluminum siding looking fresh and new!
About the Author:
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes on behalf of Pizzazz Painting, a professional painting service located in Southern New Jersey