Vinyl siding is plastic exterior siding for small apartment buildings and houses, used for weatherproofing and decoration, imitating wood clapboard, board and batten or shakes, and used instead of other materials such as fiber or aluminum cement siding. It is an engineered product, produced primarily from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. In New Zealand and the UK, a similar material is known as uPVC weatherboarding.
The chief selling point of vinyl siding is often the fact that it is virtually maintenance-free. However, while the natural qualities of vinyl will last for years, the aesthetics won’t. At some point, every homeowner will look at the exterior and ask, “can you paint vinyl siding?” Vinyl siding can be painted, but it has some constraints, and you must keep the following in mind before you begin:
- Thermal expansion
- Desired and original paint color
- Paint type used
To paint the surface with plastic siding, you must use water and soap in a sponge rather than pressure washing. It would help if you also avoided painting vinyl while on direct sunlight because vinyl siding switches size when it cools down or heats up. That is known as thermal expansion. Plastic will contract when cold and expand when hot. That means a hole could be seen at the siding edge in cold weather when the recently painted vinyl contracts.
You can’t use random colors to paint vinyl siding: unless you use precisely designed heat reflecting paints, using a darker color than the primary may cause warping. This is because vinyl is created at the factory, to be able to receive a definite amount of heat, and that amount directly corresponds with how dark it is. If you paint vinyl that was originally light-colored in a darker color, it will take on more heat than it is capable of handling and it will warp. Restoring warped vinyl siding often needs replacing all or at least parts of it to be an expensive mistake.
Vinyl paint is a combination of acrylic and urethane resins, to provide enough sticking power to stick to the plastic vinyl layer. Low-quality colors which are too watery or not intended for vinyl, will slide down and crackdown, leaving a patchy and not the desired output. If you are going to paint your siding, invest your money on high-quality paints that will last.