Can you paint Vinyl Siding: the complete guide by Painters in Austin

Can you Paint Vinyl Siding?

Spruce up your Vinyl Siding in time for the summer!

Vinyl siding is commonly considered to be relatively maintenance-free. One thing that makes it so is the fact that it doesn’t need to be painted. It comes with a color mixed with the material that is more or less permanent. But over time the color can fade, and often unevenly on different areas of the house, due to different rates of sun exposure. And whether it’s faded or not, if you weren’t the one to pick the siding, you might not be crazy about the color to begin with. We at Painters in Austin, are here to help you go through the process of painting your vinyl siding- from picking colors, to application and clean up. Keep reading to find out more!

The good news is that you can paint vinyl siding. Just be aware that the siding will be only as maintenance-free as the paint itself. Also, there are some rules and limitations to follow when painting vinyl siding. First and most important, confirm that painting the siding won’t void its warranty, if the warranty is still active. Even if the warranty permits painting, make sure you comply with any of the siding manufacturer’s stipulations, such as the type and color of paint to use.

Before heading outdoors to get the project under way, first consult the weather forecast for your area. Painting vinyl siding in ideal conditions means waiting for mild temperatures, low relative humidity, and an overcast sky. If the weather’s too hot, too sunny, or even too windy, the paint may fail to go on properly. Yes, it might look fine in the short term, but paint applied on a hot, humid, or gusty day may adhere poorly and be more prone to cracking and flaking over time.

Equipment / Tools

  • Garden hose and spray nozzle
  • Bucket
  • Soft-bristle brush, sponges, or rags
  • Paint roller with 1/2-inch nap roller covers or spray paint equipment
  • Paintbrushes


  • Laundry detergent
  • General-purpose cleaning powder
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Painter’s tape
  • Masking material
  1. Mix the Cleaner

Mix a cleaning solution containing 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent, 2/3 cup of general-purpose powdered household cleaner (such as Spic n’ Span or Super Washing Soda), and 2/3 cup of oxygen bleach (such as OxyClean) for each gallon of water. Stir the solution well in a bucket

2. Clean the Siding

Rinse the siding with clean water from a garden hose, then hand-scrub the siding to remove all dirt, grease, and chalkiness, using a soft-bristled brush, a sponge, or a rag. Work from the bottom up and rinse each section thoroughly immediately after scrubbing. Direct the water stream downward to prevent getting water behind the siding. Let the siding dry completely.

Hand-scrubbing does a much better job and is safer for the siding than pressure washing, which can force water behind the siding.

3. Mask Off Trim, Doors, and Windows

Use painter’s tape and masking paper or plastic sheeting to mask off any areas you do not want to be painted, including doors, windows, trim, and hardware.

4. Prime the Siding

Apply the primer (if you are using one) to all of the surfaces to be painted, using a paint sprayer, a roller with a 1/2-inch nap (for smooth surfaces) cover, or a paintbrush. If you use a roller or sprayer, always back brush—following up the roller or sprayer application with a brush to ensure full coverage and remove drips and heavy areas. Let the primer dry as directed.

5. Apply the Paint

Paint the cleaned or primed surfaces with an even coat of exterior paint, using the same techniques used for priming. Let the first coat dry as directed by the paint manufacturer. Apply a second coat and let it dry.

6. Clean Up the Site

Remove all masking materials and complete any final detail painting and touch-ups with a paintbrush.


  1. Clean the wall paneling with diluted TSP.

Any dust, dirt, or oily fingerprints can prevent the paint from sticking well to the wood paneling, so start by thoroughly washing the wood-paneled walls with a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and water. Before you even pick up a sponge to begin using this toxic cleaner, put on protective gear—full-sleeve clothing, rubber gloves, glasses, and a respiratory mask—and open windows in the room to adequately ventilate. Then, dilute TSP in a bucket of water and wipe down the wood paneling with a sponge dampened in the solution.

  1. Lightly sand the wood paneling.

Next, proceed to lightly sand the walls using a technique aptly known as “scuffing”; the goal here is to create a good mechanical bond between the paneled wall and the initial coat of primer that you will soon be applying. You’ll use a 220-grit sandpaper in even circular motions to do so. Today’s primers are so good that you can probably skip the sanding, but I think it’s worth doing. Even though it takes only 20 or 30 minutes, scuffing gives you long-lasting insurance against chipping paint. Just be sure to wear a dust mask and, for health reasons as well as cleanliness, wipe away dust with a tack cloth or damp rag as you go. (Now may also be the time to vacuum the floor so that you don’t track dust room to room.)

2. Protect the floor from paint splatter using drop cloths and painter’s tape.

Save yourself from having to scrub errant paint drips and splatter off the floor after the paint job is complete by laying down a bunch of old newspaper or a drop cloth. If there is molding or ceiling that you do not want the paint to inadvertently color.

3. Apply two thin coats of stain-blocking primer.

Having finished scuffing the full width and height of the wood paneling to be painted, give the surface its initial coat of primer to prevent any of the wood grain, imperfections, and the like from showing through the final coat of paint.


Choosing the right primer is key. For solid wood, use a water-based product; for veneer, use a shellac-based one. While it’s not strictly necessary to do so, you can have the primer tinted to match the shade you eventually plan to paint the wood paneling. One detail you absolutely should look out for. The words “stain-blocking” on the label. This trait helps hide any knots that appear throughout the wood paneling, or else you may see them bleed through your weekend paint job sometime in the future.


Start in with a 2-inch high-quality angle sash brush to cut in at corners, then keep it handy to dab away drips as you work. Two thin primer coats are normally sufficient. Check your can of primer for instructions on exactly how long to wait between coats.

4. Apply at least two thin coats of paint.

Top with your chosen paint applied in the same manner as described in Step 4. While you’re rolling on the paint in thin layers, pay close attention to how much collects in the panel grooves and wipe out any excess that might be too thick and become tacky once dry.

Lightly sand the surface between coats and expect to do two or three in total (leaving adequate dry time between each). It’ll be a weekend project for sure, but, when you finish, you’ll certainly admire the difference painted wood paneling can make in a room! Whether you’ve chosen to paint wood paneling a lighter color to for a very airy farmhouse vibe or a matte black for something cozier and more dramatic, like a library, the fresh color will definitely deliver results.

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