How To Paint Aluminum Siding [5 Steps]

Aluminum siding has several advantages, including superb resistance to common issues that can affect sidings, such as rust development, water damage, mildew, and insect infestations. It doesn’t contract or expand when the outside temperature changes or if there is high humidity. However, like other siding materials, it can begin to fade and look more worn over time. And when it does, you’ll likely wonder how to paint it. We’ve researched various methods to provide you with the best way to paint aluminum siding.

Here are the steps to paint your aluminum siding:

  1. Gather your materials and prep the siding
  2. Sand the siding
  3. Prime the siding 
  4. Paint the siding
  5. Apply a second coat of paint

The key to painting aluminum siding so that it has a great finish is to plan your project carefully and prime the siding before painting it. It’s best to start with a clean pallet so that the paint will bond well to the siding material. Continue reading to learn more about the steps involved in this project. We’ll also discuss the types of paint to use and the longevity of painted aluminum siding.

Exterior of a house with orange pre-painted aluminum sidings, How To Paint Aluminum Siding [5 Steps]

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How To Paint Aluminum Siding

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Up close and detailed view of aluminum sidings

Let’s start by looking at some of the materials and tools that you may need for the job. 

Things you’ll need:

  • Synthetic fiber paintbrushes
  • Acrylic exterior paint
  • Oil-based primer
  • A tall ladder
  • Painter’s tape
  • Orbital sander
  • Power washer
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Lambswool paint rollers
  • 5-gallon buckets
  • Paint trays
  • Tarp
  • Clean rags or microfiber cloths

1. Gather your materials and prep the siding

Gather all of your materials and set them about eight feet away from the side of the house so that you don’t trip over them when you move the ladder. Lay a tarp down around the perimeter of your home, paying special attention to any plants, trees, or shrubs that you don’t want to get wet. Next, grab your power washer and pour in your cleaning solution. It’s best only to use mild cleaning agents on the siding–you can even use laundry detergent for this task. To use detergent, mix one-fourth cup of it with four gallons of water. 

Buy tarp on Amazon. 

Be sure that your power washer is placed on the lowest setting and that you keep the end of the nozzle at least six feet away from the siding, as not to damage the aluminum. Start at the back of the house, using horizontal sweeping motions to spray the siding. Never spray from the bottom up, as it can damage the aluminum siding.

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2. Sand the siding

You may notice areas of peeling paint when you use your power washer to clean the siding. Take note of these areas, as you will need to sand the siding before applying a new coat of paint. Sanding the siding will help the paint adhere better and ensure a long-lasting finish. It’s best to use rough sandpaper, from 80 to 100-grit, to remove any old paint from the siding. You can also use an orbital sander for this task, making it go a lot faster. 

Buy an orbital sander on Amazon. 

Start at the back of the house and work your way to the front going over all of the sidings once with the sander. Next, do a second pass to make sure that you’ve removed all of the paint. Take care in areas where there are moldings or window frames so that you do not damage them in the process. Be sure not to apply too much pressure when using the orbital sander, as it may damage the siding.

3. Prime the siding 

After you have washed and sanded the siding, pour your primer into a paint tray and coat your paintbrush. Be sure to scrape any excess paint off on the side of the tray. Start at the back of the house and use horizontal sweeping motions to paint the siding. It’s best to start at the top of the siding and work your way down. Keep in mind that you’ll need to move your ladder as you cover each section of the siding, so be sure to make sure that it’s always within a comfortable reach of the area that you’re covering. 

You may notice that the siding color is showing through the primer on the first coat, don’t worry about this as it will be covered once you apply the paint. Apply at least two coats of primer so that the siding has complete coverage. Be sure to note the primer’s drying time, which should be available on the back of the can. Applying paint too soon can cause the siding to bubble and peel. The primer will usually take about three to four hours to dry, depending on the temperature.

If you are using a paint sprayer to apply the primer, be sure it is diluted properly so that it doesn’t clog up the sprayer’s nozzle. When spraying the siding, use horizontal sweeping motions to create an even layer of primer. Go over each section twice to ensure that the entire home has two primer coats on the siding.

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Helpful Priming Tips:

  • It’s best to use an oil-based primer on aluminum siding, as it can provide an additional layer of protection from outside elements.
  • You may also want to consider using an oxidizing primer, as it can help to inhibit the development of rust and water stains.
  • Try to avoid latex primers when painting aluminum siding as they contain chemicals that can react unfavorably with the aluminum, which can lead to issues with your final finish.

4. Paint the siding

After your second coat of primer has dried, pour the remaining primer out of the paint tray and back into the can, then set it aside. Next, grab your paint and pour it into a new paint tray. Take a new paintbrush and dip it in the paint, wiping any excess paint onto the side of the paint tray.

Start at the back of the house and work your way to the front, starting at the top of the siding. Again, be sure to use horizontal sweeping motions and pay special attention to areas around electrical sockets, windows, and eaves. Once the first coat of paint has dried (which typically takes about two hours), apply the second coat in the same matter. 

If you’re using a paint sprayer, empty the remaining primer from the reservoir and clean it out before adding the paint. As with the primer, use horizontal sweeping motions to ensure full coverage across all clapper boards. Narrow the sprayer as you get close to the windows and other non-siding materials to avoid having to remove paint from them later. 

Buy a paint sprayer on Amazon. 

Helpful Painting Tips:

  • When choosing the type of paint for your aluminum siding, it’s best to go for acrylic exterior paint as it will hold up better to weather conditions.
  • Try to avoid high-gloss paint as it can cause distracting reflections on sunny days–especially in areas where the climates are typically warm.
  • The most commonly used finishes for aluminum siding are satin and eggshell, as they’re able to hide any scratches, dents, and other surface imperfections better than sheens with a higher gloss.

Buy exterior acrylic paint on Amazon. 

5. Apply a second coat of paint

Once your first coat of paint has dried, start at the back of the house again and begin applying your second coat. If you notice any bumps on the siding after applying the first coat, you can simply take a sanding block or sanding paper to softly sand them down before removing the second coat. It’s always best to do a quick inspection before applying your next coat of paint, as it can help you to note areas where paint has splattered on non-siding surfaces. In which case, it will be easier and more advantageous to remove while it’s still wet.

It’s important to note that a second paint coat isn’t always necessary for aluminum siding, but it can add another layer of protection for your home–and it just looks more polished. If you notice any lines after applying the first coat of paint, it could be because you are painting way too slowly. While it is important to pace yourself during this type of laborious project, it’s also best to paint in smaller sections to dry more evenly (thus decreasing the number of paint lines).

Always try to keep your edges wet. Take breaks as needed to prevent your arms from becoming cramped. If you are painting aluminum siding for the first time, you may want to make it a two-day project by applying the primer on the first day and applying the paint on the second day to give your arms time to rest.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Aluminum Siding?

A painter painting the aluminum sidings of a house with a yellow color

The best types of paint to use on aluminum siding are matte, satin, or eggshell finish. Paint with a sheen more than that of satin paint will reflect more sunlight, making the siding challenging to look at on sunny days or in the afternoon. Lower-gloss paint will not only reflect less light, but it will hide more imperfections such as dents, scratches, and scuff marks. Flat paints won’t last as long as mid-sheen paints, which means you may need to repaint every four to five years to keep the siding looking its best.

Is It Cheaper To Paint Or Replace Aluminum Siding?

It depends on the aluminum siding condition, which is why it’s best to first assess the siding to determine which option will be better. For example, if the aluminum siding is fading or appears weathered, a paint job may do the trick to restore its luster. However, if the siding is badly damaged or punctured, a replacement job maybe the more sensible option. 

Can You Power Wash Aluminum Siding?

Yes, you can power wash aluminum siding. Some home experts may recommend against this, but many agree that it is the most efficient way to clean the siding or prepare it for a paint job. The reason why some experts may not recommend this is due to the potential damage that pressure washing can do to the siding.

The best way to combat this is to make sure that the power wash setting is low and that the nozzle is kept at least six to eight feet away from the siding. It also helps to perform a quick pressure test on an inconspicuous area of the siding to ensure that the setting is not too harsh.

Buy a power washer on Amazon. 

How Long Does Paint On Aluminum Siding Last?

Compared to other types of siding, aluminum siding has an average shelf life. If maintained properly, it can last anywhere from five to 10 years.

When Is The Best Time To Paint Aluminum Siding?

The best time to paint siding is between the spring and the fall when the temperature is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope that this post has provided you with all of the information you need to paint your aluminum siding. Remember that a great paint job can only be accomplished by conducting a great preparation job. This includes cleaning your aluminum siding thoroughly and sanding it down to ensure that the surface is properly prepped for the paint job.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:
Should You Paint Or Stain Wood Siding (And How To)  

Is Pine Good For Exterior Siding? 

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