When aluminum finally became an easily accessible material for everyone, it soon became one of the people’s favorite choices for creating tools, decorations, and buildings. In addition to being lightweight, aluminum offers excellent protection against natural elements such as water. As if this were not enough, aluminum requires almost no maintenance, offering long useful life.
However, this does not mean that it is immune so that if you decide to use it as siding for your home, you will need to know some tricks to maintain it. Of course, painting aluminum siding is one of them, which, believe it or not, is possible.
Aluminum’s popularity grew after the end of World War II. This was practically exclusively for the manufacture of weapons and military vehicles, but when it was no longer needed, it became a material accessible to all. If it was used to build tanks and ships, then it could be used for housing.
Although some homeowners were concerned that this material was unsightly, it turned out that, with the necessary care and preparation, it could be decorated like a normal wall.
Painting aluminum is so easy that you can do it yourself without hiring a professional, and today we will explain what you need to know.
Aluminum and paint are a perfect duo
Image source: RetractableAwnings.com Inc.
Can you paint aluminum siding? You will be happy to know that yes, it is possible. There is no better combination than paint and aluminum. Unlike more traditional materials, such as wood or plaster, paint easily adheres to aluminum.
This does not mean that you do not need to apply a primer coat, but even it will be easier to adhere to the siding. Part of this resistance is because the steel does not undergo noticeable changes with temperature variations, so the paint will not move from its place.
There are only two conditions for painting aluminum siding. The first is to make sure that the coating is completely clean before painting, as any speck of dust could prevent the paint from adhering correctly. The second condition is that the paint is based on acrylic latex.
Image source: Pike Awning Company
Perhaps the only drawback to painting aluminum is that the costs can be high, but it is the price to pay for a job that will last a lifetime.
When the aluminum is in perfect condition, the best thing to do is try to buy paint with a satin finish. It won’t wear out quickly, and because the paint surface is smooth, it will be much easier to clean. Also, it is perfect if you want to keep the original coating texture.
However, when the coating is worn and has dents on the surface, you may want to purchase a matte finish paint. Since it does not shine, the imperfections’ reflections and shadows will not be seen.
With these notions, you should have better judgment in selecting the perfect paint for your coating. Now you can move on to its application.
Painting aluminum siding – a how to guide
The coating must be flawless
The first step, as we mentioned earlier, is to do a deep cleaning of the aluminum. Whether this one has a coat of old paint or is just dusty, you’ll have to remove everything until only the metal is visible.
Old paint should be scraped off, and it is recommended that you also apply new caulk. Removing the paint will also let you see if there is mold on the aluminum. Although this should not affect it, it is best to clean it before painting. To remove it, you will need bleach diluted in water.
To remove excess stains, the best you can use is warm water with liquid soap. A Power washer is a faster alternative to this process, but you must be careful with the water pressure as this can damage the aluminum. To avoid accidents, always wash from top to bottom.
Some paints can only be removed with solvents. If this is your case, remember to clean the surface afterward with water, as chemical stains will also prevent the paint from adhering properly.
Prepare the surface with sandpaper
Before painting metal siding, you must ensure that it has a rough enough texture so that the primer does not fall off. For this, you will only have to sand the surface lightly with sandpaper.
Start with rough 80-grit paper, and finish with 220-grit sandpaper for the details. As with the power washer, always sand from top to bottom to avoid damaging the aluminum.
Take the opportunity to repair blemishes
Painting aluminum siding will not serve to disguise the most notable imperfections in the metal; on the contrary, the paint could make them stand out.
Unfortunately, if there are large gaps or dents, it is best to replace the aluminum foil entirely. You can ignore small details such as scratches as the new paint coat will hide them.
Choose the best moment
Image source: kimberly peck architect
The paint job will be seriously affected by the weather. Humidity, wind, snow, and other elements are not friends of painting, so it is always good to work on sunny or warm days.
Each paint container should include instructions that specify the minimum temperature at which it can be used, but generally, it is best not to paint below 10 °C.
The other extreme is also not recommended. Too much heat can alter the paint’s natural drying. The heat makes it take much longer to dry, which can result in paint dripping onto the coating.
Finally, consider nighttime temperatures. The paint will take time to fully dry, and the cold of the night could interfere with this. Also, in certain areas and times of the year, the generation of dew is much more common, and these drops, after all, are water that can damage the paint.
The time has come to prime
For the paint to adhere properly, you must apply a primer coat to the aluminum. The best option is to apply an oil-based primer, as this is much more resistant. Besides, the oil-based primer can be used with any type of paint, be it matt or satin.
If your aluminum siding paint is acrylic, there is also a primer that can be combined with it. It adheres faster to aluminum and has no side effects, but can only be used with acrylic paint.
The third option available is a latex primer, but it is not recommended to apply it on aluminum sidings since this has adverse effects that will deteriorate the paint.
It’s time to paint
Now that everything is ready, it is time to paint the coating. You must select the right paint for your primer. If you opted for the acrylic option, you can enjoy a much stronger finish.
There is no specific instrument for painting on aluminum. This will depend on how fast you want to get the job done, or if you need to paint small details.
Use the brushes for small areas that require attention to detail. They are not recommended for large areas because it will take a long time to finish the job.
For large areas, it is best to use a roller. This is not that expensive and you can get a smooth finish, although it will take some practice to use it well.
Finally, painting aluminum siding can be done quickly and easily using a sprayer. You just have to shoot at the wall and it will take care of the rest. The problem is it’s an expensive tool, and there’s less control over where the paint falls.
Also, if you choose to use the sprayer, you may want to cover doors, windows, cornices, and even your lawn with painter’s tape and plastic sheeting so you don’t accidentally get them dirty. You can do it manually, but there is also an automated way that will save you time by applying tape and plastic at the same time.
For a proper finish, you will need to apply two paint coats. Wait for the first to dry before proceeding with the second. With the right weather conditions, the first coat should dry in two hours. Check if it is dry before applying it.
Image source: Smith & Vansant Architects PC
Depending on your siding’s installation, you may need to use horizontal or vertical strokes to paint it. With horizontal sidings, it doesn’t matter if you go from left to right or in the opposite direction, but with vertical sidings, it is important to always start from the top.
With this, you already know everything you need for painting aluminum siding. The process is very similar to a normal wall, but the materials are formulated to adhere to aluminum, so you cannot use any primer or paint on them.
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