How to Eco Paint a Vinyl Siding House


Painting vinyl siding is an excellent option if it’s worn or you’re looking to change the color. Follow our guide and your vinyl siding will look fresh and new for years to come.

Painting a vinyl-clad house comprises checking your vinyl-siding warranty, cleaning the vinyl thoroughly, investing in a high-quality acrylic “vinyl safe” primer and finish coat combination paint, choosing the right color, only painting in suitable weather and painting in sections.

What Tools Do I Need To Paint Vinyl Siding?

 eco-friendly vinyl cleaner Masking tape Spray paint equipment
Bucket Soft  bristle brush, sponges, Paint roller with ½ inch nap
Hand pump sprayer Painters tape Goggles, gloves, face mask
Paint trim guard Rags Drop sheets
Pressure washer Paintbrushes Protective coveralls
Two step ladders and a plank scaffolding Radio or MP3 player

How To Prepare Vinyl Siding For Painting

Vinyl Siding is the easiest of all cladding types to paint, at the same time, it’s the cladding that will have the worst outcome if you don’t do it right. Follow this guide carefully.

Paint won’t remove defects and may even make repairing defects more expensive:

  • Refix loose, lifting or missing siding.
  • Make sure that nail heads and fixings are flush to the siding.
  • Replace degraded siding due to impact or other causes.
  • Check for excess moisture under the siding due to water leaks or cracks. Excess moisture will allow mold and mildew to develop. Don’t paint over it; it will just grow through and the paint will fail.

Avoid using cleaners that contain organic solvents, liquid grease remover, chlorine bleach or hydrocarbons of any sort because these might damage the siding (and they’re not eco-friendly).

Do not use steel wool or abrasive scrubbers because these might scratch the siding.

Simple Green offers an environmentally friendly cleaner that’s biodegradable and can be used manually or with pressure washers.

Siding Cleaner OX 2000 cleans algae (green, black, brown), mold, mildew, lichen organic stains. It’s non-toxic, has no smell, bleach-free and safe around children, animals and plants. It can also be used manually or with pressure washers.

Step 1.

Deep clean with a purpose vinyl cleaner:  Simple Green Oxy Solve House and Siding Cleaner

  • Removes dirt, grime and stains from stucco, brick, wood, vinyl, aluminum and other types of siding
  • Removes black streaks and lifting tree sap, ash and soot off siding and trim
  • non-toxic and biodegradable: will not harm surrounding plants, lawns, pets or wildlife
  • Fast-acting peroxide foam
  • Works well with pressure cleaners

Simple Green also makes a House and Siding Cleaner – Pressure Washer Concentrate

  • Chlorine and phosphate-free, non-toxic to plants and animals
  • Can be used around children
  • Removes environmental pollution, dirt and grime from vinyl and aluminum siding, stucco, terra cotta roof tiles, painted wood, shake, shingle or panel siding.
  • Concentrated formula
  • Makes up to 21 gallons

Krud Cutter is another nontoxic pressure cleaning concentrate.

Pressure washers might damage the siding and won’t remove the chalky residue without a cleaner. Consider handwashing with a cleaner.

Trisodium Phosphate E (E for Environmentally friendly) called TSP E is suitable for difficult stains and also helps prepare the surface to take paint. Be sure to rinse off thoroughly or the paint won’t adhere properly.

According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, the best way to clean vinyl is to use a soft cloth or an ordinary long-handled, soft bristle brush. To prevent streaking start at the bottom and work up towards the top.

Alternatively use a pressure washer, carefully, with a cleaner. Be sure to direct the pressure washer stream straight on or angled slightly downwards: Avoid angling upwards and risk forcing water behind the siding.

Step 2.

Rinse with a garden hose as you go so that residue doesn’t re-adhere.

Step 3.

Allow to dry thoroughly.

Should I Prime Paint Vinyl Cladding?

Primer is only necessary if your vinyl siding is porous, pitted or the original color has completely worn away. Primer doesn’t improve the adhesion of 100% acrylic paint to vinyl.

How To Paint Vinyl Cladding

IMPORTANT: Do an adhesion test before proceeding with painting, either the scratch method or the X method. The purpose is to determine whether or not the paint you’ve chosen will adhere to your vinyl siding

  1. Scratch: Find a small section that won’t be seen or an offcut of siding. Paint that section, allow to cure for at least twenty-four hours then try and scratch it off with your fingernail. If the paint comes off either you haven’t washed it properly, you have the wrong paint or you will have to apply water-based primer paint.
  2. The X test should be done at the same time as the scratch test: Apply the paint as before then create a series of hatch marks over the paint twenty-four hours later with a standard razor. Now put blue tape over the cross-hatched area. Burnish it with your fingers to ensure good adhesion then pull it off.

If the paint passes both tests go ahead and paint.

IMPORTANT: Choose a paint shade that is lighter or close to the current color of your vinyl. Darker shades attract more heat which will cause the vinyl to warp.

Old weathered vinyl siding accepts paint much better than new siding.

Avoid painting in weather that is too hot, humid or windy because this will cause the paint to dry too quickly. You may not see the effects of painting in the wrong weather right away, but it will cause the paint to crack and flake later down the road.

The ideal weather to paint in is when the temperatures are mild, and humidity is low. An overcast sky is also a great time to paint outdoors. Along with helping your paint last longer, it will also make your job of painting a lot more enjoyable as well.

Step 1.

Mask doors, windows and anything else in proximity that you don’t want to be painted: Paint from a spray gun drifts further than paint from a roller or brush so cover everything. Make sure there are no cars around.

Minimize overspray by using a smaller spray tip and a lower pressure setting.

Use a handheld masking machine like the 3M handheld masker to quickly and easily protect trim, windows and doors.

Flower beds and grass also need to be protected from overspray.

Step 2.

Wear goggles, breathing mask and protective clothing.

Have the right access equipment on hand. Use scaffolding or a boom lift; at the very least two step ladders and a plank. You want to be able to spray whole lengths at a time as far as possible.

Do not thin the paint and stir thoroughly before applying.

Beware of bugs settling on the wet paint and condensation forming in the evenings. Finish painting about two-hours before sundown to allow for drying before evening.

Step 3.

Apply 100% acrylic vinyl safe paint: Sherwin Williams Emerald paint is perhaps the best overall eco-friendly choice (producing zero volatile organic compounds):

  • Self-priming
  • Adheres well to vinyl and will expand and contract with the siding
  • Hides stains and darker colors very effectively
  • Resists water streaking and spotting
  • Minimal odor
  • Easy cleanup
  • Anti-microbial inhibiting mold and mildew
  • Resists blistering, peeling, chalking, fading and dirt pick up
  • Lifetime warranty

Always refer to the Technical Data Sheet (TDS) related to each paint product, not the Material Safety Data Sheet. The TDS will tell you exactly how you should apply their paint product

An eggshell finish doesn’t reflect the sun as much as a gloss finish. If you live near the ocean choose satin finish paint because salt washes off more easily.

Step 4.

Spray painting is the fastest method and provides the best finish but requires a degree of expertise.

Rolling the paint on with a roller is faster than brushing but brushing gives a better finish.

Use a lambswool roller rather than a sponge roller for a smoother finish.

You will need small rollers and brushes to access corners.

Most people will find paint sprayers difficult to use. Brushing with a stiff nylon brush is easier to use and gives better results than a roller.

Tips For Painting Vinyl Siding

Shop at thrift shops and charity stores for cheap sheets; they make great drop sheets.

Get people to help, especially someone to follow up with a brush and a gofer when you’re up that scaffolding or ladder.

Clean up spills straight away especially those on concrete before they soak in.

Remove fittings like antennas, shutters and light fittings that will get in the way.

REMEMBER: if you are going to hire a professional painter to paint your house 80% to 85% of your total cost will be for labor, therefore don’t stint on the price of paint. Always get the highest quality paint available.

Related Questions

Is painting more cost-effective than replacing vinyl siding? Before the advent of acrylic paint, there was a case for replacing old vinyl siding that was just too ugly to live with. Properly applied high-quality acrylic paint should last as long as vinyl siding itself. Be prepared to repaint every ten to twenty-years.

How much will it cost? Replacing vinyl costs about $200 to $300 per 100 square feet to replace. Expect a saving of between 50% and 65% by painting instead.

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