Painting aluminum siding: good or 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 your home was built or re-sided during that time, you have undoubtedly realized that this is not the case. Because of exposure to the sun, most aluminum siding becomes "chalky" and faded 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 that it will chip off. But is complete replacement your only option?

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 it, and this is an essential step. The key to a long-lasting job, however, is to hand-scrub the entire exterior surface with detergent.

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 longer.

It is also important to note that some companies mix bonding additives to the paint before applying it, claiming this enables 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.

Thinking about replacing your aluminum siding with a vinyl product? Consider this. 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 unlimited color options.

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 for the job are expensive. This cost, combined with the extensive prep work exterior painting requires and the difficulty of mastering a paint sprayer—it’s harder than it looks—might make housepainting too challenging for most homeowners.

If you decide to hire a professional for your siding project, research the contractors who advertise this service. Ask for references that go back at least five years. This will give you a better idea of the quality of their work 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 the company. Be sure that all job specifications, including the products that will 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. Getting a professional result, however, requires intense surface preparation, high-quality products and proper execution of the project from start to finish.

Don Milewski is operations manager for Neubert Painting in Lakewood, Ohio.


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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 8:52 AM, 06.24.2010