who knew you could paint it?

by Ron Rothenberg, 4 Buyers Real Estate

When I bought my home it was covered in 30 year-old aluminum siding. The home inspector warned me that soon the powdery paint would rub off and the gray aluminum would show through, along with the prints of every oily finger that ever touched it and that I might soon wish to replace the siding.

That was 25 years ago.

Today, the siding is still going strong, protecting my home from the elements, requiring absolutely no maintenance except an occasional wash with soap and water.

For 50 years, it didn’t even have to be painted.

Lately, parts of it are looking even better, because I painted it.

Before you think about painting your siding, get a lead test kit and test the paint. It’s very unlikely that it contains lead, but if it does then this is a job for a pro.

To get started, wash the siding really well. Some painters recommended TSP and a power washer, but the power washer just forced a lot of water behind the siding, and did a mediocre job of cleaning. I did fine washing it twice with water, dish detergent, a mildly abrasive sponge and lots of elbow grease.

Make sure that you get all the powdery paint off – if you run your finger roughly over the surface your finger should stay clean and not turn the color of your siding.

When dry, I primed the surface with Benjamin Moore All-Purpose Latex Primer. I chose it because it is a latex primer that contains very little ammonia. Ammonia is an ingredient in most latex paints that will react with oxidized aluminum and cause tiny gas bubbles that can ruin your paint job. Many of the newer eco/green paints have even less ammonia. AFM Safecoat advertises an ammonia-free primer.

After priming, let wait for 3-4 days for the primer to bond fully with the siding, particularly if there are bare spots.

For the finish coats, I used Benjamin Moore Moorglo SoftGloss paint, though you can use any good exterior paint. Today, I’d probably use their Aura exterior paint.

The paint did dry with a lovely soft gloss making the siding look brand new, but it did leave small visible brush strokes, which added a bit of texture to an otherwise sterile siding, which I liked. If you don’t like brush strokes, try adding Flood’s Floetrol additive, which slows the drying of the paint and allows it time to level itself.

All of the areas I painted four years ago still look like new if you wash them down with soap and water. There are no bubbles, no peeling, no wearing, just smooth expanses of beautiful white aluminum.

The newly-painted parts of my home’s exterior now look great.

I know that in 10 years or so I will have to repaint the siding, just as if it were wood.

I don’t like heights and I don’t like ladders. I started painting the house at the bottom and worked my way up, so if you pass by a house with a marvelous-looking bottom half and an older-looking top half, it’s probably mine. I suggest that you paint one side of your house at a time.

If there’s any kind soul out there who would like to paint the top half of my house, I’d gladly paint the bottom half of yours.


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