Painting Vinyl Siding and Window Trim
If you're seeking advice about painting vinyl window frames and trim, you're not alone. This year, thousands of homeowners have replaced older windows with new, energy-efficient models, but many are not happy with the white frames. Sound familiar? The good news is that you're not stuck with white. It's OK to paint vinyl (window frames, shutters, siding or trim) as long as you follow a few rules.
- The first consideration is color. Vinyl has the potential to warp when over-heated. This affect is most common on larger areas like siding. Because dark colors absorb heat, it’s important that you select light colored paint. To know which hues are light enough for covering white vinyl, stay with a light-reflectance value (LRV) of 55 or higher. (You'll find LRV numbers on the color fan deck.) Better yet, ask your retailer to see the palette of vinyl-safe colors, which are reformulated with less of the darker pigments. And if your vinyl is not white, and you want to change the color, you can choose an LRV of less than 55--just be sure to not use a color darker than the vinyl's original hue.
- Proper preparation is the other key. New vinyl has no factory finish to remove, but its smooth surface needs a light sanding with 220 grit to give it some tooth. Clean away the sanding dust and apply a coat of Fresh Start All Purpose Primer (023), which gives the paint film an even better surface to grab on to. Follow with a coat of exterior waterborne finish such as Aura (634) or any good-quality latex or acrylic paint.
There's hope for older vinyl, too. Here are some added considerations to ensure success in refreshing aging vinyl siding:
- Over time, vinyl loses its sheen and becomes chalky (usually an aesthetic issue rather than a maintenance requirement). Remove this by power washing before painting. Best way is to start up high and work down, making sure to aim the spray at a downward angle.
- If you see signs of mildew (common on older vinyl because of its rough surface), clean with an all-purpose cleaner or a bleach solution. Always protect yourself and surrounding areas when using bleach. Rinse thoroughly.
- Once the surface is dry, prime and finish as described above. As with any exterior painting, proper preparation and fair (and dry) weather are important for good results and long-term durability.