A Guide to Painting Aluminum Siding On Your Home

Aluminum siding is a great choice for most homes and has been popular since the 1940s. It does everything that siding should do better than wood.

Aluminum doesn’t rot, it doesn’t snap off in strong wind, and properly installed, is far better at keeping your home insulated, fire-safe, and termite free.

There’s only one major downside to aluminum siding, and that’s the finish it comes with from the factory.

The baked-on color finish of aluminum siding turns chalky from exposure sun and rain, eventually fading away completely.

Patches of bare aluminum metal eventually begin to show through. It’s not a good look.

When this happens, many homeowners think that they will have to replace their aluminum siding with newer, more expensive vinyl to make their house look good again.

Can you really paint aluminum siding?

Everybody knows you can paint wood, but a lot of homeowners assume discolored aluminum needs to be scrapped. They couldn’t be more wrong!

Aluminum siding takes paint very well. Paint adheres to metal better than it does to vinyl, and since aluminum doesn’t shrink and swell like wood, you don’t have to worry about paint peeling off the way you do with wood shingles.

The only reason to get rid of faded aluminum is if the siding is badly damaged or punctured. Damaged siding should be repaired or replaced before painting.

Here’s How To Paint Aluminum Siding

  1. Clean the Surface

Aluminum doesn’t rust or rot, but you need to clean the chalky oxidation and any mildew off of your siding. These will keep new paint from adhering well.

You need to clean the siding until it will pass a white glove test–wiping a clean paper napkin across the surface, no chalky powder should come off.

This powder is the remains of the factory finish combined with the white oxidation that naturally occurs on bare aluminum.

The best way to clean aluminum siding for painting is with a pressure washer.  If you don’t have one, you’ll need to rent or borrow one for the job.

Fill your pressure washer with a mix of TSP and capful of household bleach. TSP is a powerful cleaning agent, available at most hardware stores. It comes concentrated, and should be diluted per the instructions on the jug you buy.

The mix is typically one cup of TSP per gallon of water.

TSP is a powerful chemical agent, and you should handle it with gloves and eye protection.

  1. Prime the Siding

Primer is one of the most important steps when painting aluminum siding. Primer does two important things.

First, it seals the aluminum to prevent the chalky oxidation from happening under your paint.

Second, primer creates a uniform surface that is ideal for paint adhesion.

Aluminum should be painted with a self-etching primer designed for metal. This primer bites into the surface of the aluminum and cuts past any oxidation to create a strong bond.

Don’t use any kind of “2-in-1” paint and primer. These are basically false advertising.

They create a thicker, more durable surface, and can replace the need for primer in light-duty interior painting. However, they do not have a genuine primer in the mix, and will not bond to aluminum any better than regular latex interior paint would–which is to say, not very well.

  1. Start Painting

Once the primer is dry, it is time to start painting! You can brush or spray paint onto aluminum siding once it has been primed.

If you choose to use a brush, work with small batches of paint, and try to stay in the shade. Since aluminum heats up in the sun, paint will also thicken and set quicker.

If you are only used to interior painting, you could easily brush or roll on too much paint. If it dries before you can finish spreading it, you could have uneven spots and unsightly runs of paint.

The best way to paint aluminum siding is with an airless sprayer. These tools are used by professional painters to create a perfect finish.

Not only do these sprayers cover more area, but they do it faster and with a more even finish than a brush or roller could do. They do require a lot of skill to use properly though, and keeping the tool clean and spraying smoothly can be a challenge.

What Kind of Paint Should You Use On Aluminum?

You can paint your aluminum siding in just about any color once your primer has dried. Very bright colors might need a lightly tinted or white base, but most common home colors can be painted directly over your metal primer.

The sheen of the paint is just as important as its color. Flat or matte paint has a lot going for it from an exterior design perspective. The chalky or velvety finish will give your home a very modern appearance as long as the paint is clean. It also hides small painting mistakes like bad brushwork much better than other finishes.

But matte paint is hard to clean. The surface texture attracts more dirt and stains than other finishes. And spraying or scrubbing dirty spots can burnish the surface and create an uneven finish.

While the paint itself should last a long time, the initial dead-flat finish should only be expected to last a few years. Satin or eggshell finishes are much more durable than flat finishes. They are easier to clean and will resist stains far better than flat paint.

Call The Pros!

If you need help painting your aluminum siding in South Jersey, give the team at Pizzazz Painting a call. For more than twenty years, families and local business owners have trusted us to give their property some Pizzazz! No job is too big or too small, and all customers can expect the same professional service, high-quality paints, and talented painters.