How to Paint Aluminum Siding

Your home’s siding is the first impression people will get of your entire house. If your aluminum siding is faded or looks chalky, stained, or weathered, you might not be establishing the reputation you’d like for a passerby. Might as well have a sign out front that says, “I’ve basically given up.”

If you’re looking to give your home exterior a makeover, there’s no better way than to paint your siding. A refresh of your existing color or a brand new, modern hue can totally transform the entire look of your home. 

As long as your aluminum siding is in good condition, there’s no reason to replace all of your home’s siding just to change the color. This is an expensive, unnecessary investment when all you really need is a new coat of paint. Installing new siding can cost between $5 and $50 per square foot, depending on the material you choose and the cost of installation. Compared to new siding, painting your home costs pennies on the dollar. This Old House estimates that the cost of painting your home’s exterior costs only $5 to $10 per one hundred square feet. Sounds better huh?

You can paint your own home as long as you have the right tools and preparation on hand. Here’s how to make it happen. 

Preparing Your Home for New Paint

Before you crack open a paint can, your home needs some preparation to ensure the best possible adhesion between the paint and your aluminum siding. 

First, you should complete a thorough inspection of your siding, looking for mildew or powdering paint pigment. The cool kids call it Triple P just as an FYI. You can do this by running your siding with a cloth. If you have an older home, you should test old siding paint for lead before you begin, as you’ll need to contact a licensed lead abatement specialist before you begin if there’s any presence of paint. 

Before you begin, lay down drop cloths to protect your lawn, landscaping, and anything else that might be in the way of dripping cleaning solution, primer, or paint. 

Your aluminum siding needs a deep cleaning before you can paint. There are three ways to do this:

  • Scrubbing with a sponge: Using a cleaning solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach, 1 cup trisodium phosphate, and 1 gallon of water and sponge, wipe your siding clean and then rinse it with a hose. Be sure to wear gloves.
  • Using a random-orbit sander: You can clean your siding and remove excess paint with a random-orbit sander and a 100-grit abrasive disk. Attach the sander to a wet/dry vacuum with a HEPA filter, and remove as much paint as possible. This can be quite time-consuming. 
  • Cleaning with a power washer: Attach your pressure washer to a garden hose and use a fan-spray tip. Fill the reservoir with the same bleach/trisodium phosphate/water mixture. Point the tip of the sprayer downward to avoid shooting water up under the siding. When finished, rinse your siding clean with water. 

Our opinion? All of these options are a great way to prepare your home’s siding for painting, but power washing is the least labor-intensive way to clean your home effectively before priming and painting. You can rent a pressure washer to clean your home quickly and efficiently. 

Priming Aluminum Siding

After you’ve washed your aluminum siding, it’s time to prime it to promote the best possible adhesion between the siding and your paint. You should apply one coat of an acrylic primer that’s been specifically designed for exterior application and aluminum siding. We’ll call it the Optimus Primer.

Primer for aluminum siding is usually called a galvanized etching primer, and it should be given proper time to cure before applying a coat of paint. Be sure to read the label to see what the curing time is for your specific primer. 

You could use a combination of paintbrushes and rollers, but this takes a lot of time and effort and could show unsightly brush strokes. A far better (and easier) solution is to rent and use an airless paint sprayer for a smooth, even application of primer and paint. The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America organization shared that using an airless sprayer can save between 50% and 75% of your painting time; it’s 4 times faster than brush applications and 2 times faster than roller applications. 

Using an Airless Paint Sprayer

Airless paint sprayers are a great option because they don’t require compressed air and they leave an even application of paint everywhere. But beware: Paint does indeed go everywhere. This means that any windows, trim, or anything you don’t want to get painted needs to be properly taped off with painter’s tape and plastic drop cloths. 

Most airless sprayers have interchangeable tips, and for a successful outcome, you should be sure to use the right one for your application. For exterior latex paints, it’s recommended that you use a tip between 0.015 and 0.019 gauge.

What else should you know about using an airless paint sprayer?

  • Always begin at the edges of the walls and the top corners, working your way towards the middle.
  • If you spray too much paint in one area, you can spread it out using a regular brush or roller. 
  • Spray the gun directly at the surface, straight on. Tilting the gun can cause an uneven finish.
  • Avoid “fanning” the gun, as this can also lead to an uneven finish.
  • Hold the sprayer 12 inches away from the wall.
  • Wear protective gear like goggles, a protective mask, and even a disposable paint suit if you’re worried about spray
  • Just, you know, have fun with it!

Painting Your Siding

Next, it’s time to paint your siding. You should choose a 100% acrylic paint that’s meant for exterior applications. Low luster or satin finishes are best for hiding any surface irregularities and look great on aluminum siding. 

Using your airless paint sprayer, apply an even coat of paint. It’s strongly recommended that you add a second coat of paint for a lasting finish. However, you should allow your first layer of paint to fully dry before applying a second coat. Read the label on your paint and follow directions on drying times between coats. 

Painting your aluminum siding can be a simple process if you’re prepared with the right information and the right equipment. You may find that it’s helpful to rent outdoor scaffolding to safely reach your entire home from top to bottom. 

Northside Tool Rental has all the tools you need for your at-home projects so you can invest in your home, not in tools you’ll only use once. To learn more about the equipment we have available for your home improvement to-do list, contact us today!