Painting, Siding

Painting Aluminum Siding: 12 Things You Should Know

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When it comes to painting any surface, the preparation is usually just as necessary as the application method. Still, painting aluminum siding poses some unique challenges and hosts quite a few additional requirements to make things pop as much as possible.

One glaring question has to come to mind, and that question in itself is, can you even paint aluminum siding in the first place, and is it worth the endeavor?

It is entirely okay to paint aluminum siding. You can get creative with different magnificent colors and blends that make your home’s exterior have an excellent curb appeal. Make sure to set yourself up for success and proceed the correct way.

Aluminum siding is typically considered a cheaper alternative to some of your more expensive sidings. Also, aluminum siding can come factory paint finish that’ll last several years. However, the time will arise when the entire surface will need a new paint finish

As paint ages and fades, chalky surfaces develop which will need to power washing before painting to remove paint dust, dirt, and mildew.

It has a wide range of customization options at hand for installation and decoration in the form of paints that will allow your inner home decorator to flourish. Continue reading for more. 

Can You Paint Aluminum Siding?

Exterior painting is a chore no one really enjoys doing.

As you might expect, you most certainly can paint aluminum siding. The beautiful colors you have at your disposal for the job can create some very magnificent blends that can complement almost any household or style. 

To paint your aluminum exterior, though, you will need to do your due diligence and set yourself up for success, which means prepping the surface for the layers of paint and having the right tools on hand.

1. Prepare the Surface

On the preparation of exterior surfaces, having the essentials is dire to make sure you can get the job done and that the finished product looks as stunning as you would intend.

For that, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper brushes, sanding discs, paper, and paint that can bring it all together.

Other tools may include:

Most of the tools mentioned above are for cleaning the surface before doing anything else.

Inspect Everywhere First

The absolute first thing you want to do is take a few moments to inspect the surface of your siding itself carefully. 

Checking the surface lets you see if you will need to repair specific pieces that may have been damaged or become loose entirely.

Any of the problems mentioned above can make the process of painting your aluminum siding difficult or, in a worst-case scenario, leave you with a shoddy finished product.

Some of the most extensive forms of damage you will be looking for are wood rot, excessive moisture, or insect infestation around or behind the aluminum siding. You will need to handle any of the above before considering painting.

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2. Priming Aluminum Siding

After checking to ensure that your coat of paint won’t have any problems adhering to the aluminum, your next move will be to apply a coat of primer onto the aluminum.

It’s worth noting that even if you are doing vinyl siding, you would still want to do the inspection mentioned above. 

Another essential thing to remember about metal material is that it needs a primer for optimal paint adhesion. Apply your primer layer to give you a significantly better chance of having a final coat of paint that doesn’t show any blemishes or discoloration in the final product.

Regarding aluminum exterior specifically, you can apply primer on glossy and new layers or have gone several rounds with father time and come up worse for wear. 

Either way, you will benefit from following this step, and some of those rougher areas will shape up nicely afterward.

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3. Choosing the Color of Paint to Use

Showing some tender love and care to the exteriors of your siding will allow you to go with a coat of quality exterior paint that will reflect just how much effort went into setting it up to make this stage happen.

When it comes to color customization, the world is more or less your oyster, but the biggest thing to bear in mind is the kind of paint you use, more specifically ensuring that you are using 100-percent acrylic paint.

While there can be any number of acrylic paints suitable for the job at hand, 100-percent acrylic paint will not only give you a better, lasting bond on the surface but endure almost anything nature can throw at it to boot.

A general rule of thumb when it comes down to picking a color that compliments your aluminum siding would be to take a slightly lighter shade than whatever the initial cover of your siding is. 

The reason behind this lies entirely because darker colors can be used but may cause the siding to warp or look odd, and to avoid this, you’d want to go with something a few grains down to prevent any issues that may arise.

Is Painting Aluminum Siding a Good Idea?

It entirely depends on why you would be painting the aluminum in the first place. 

If your goal is to bring it up to speed to hide some of the more weathered and old-looking areas of the siding that aren’t damaged, then painting your aluminum siding is a fantastic idea.

Taking the time to add on a nice coat of acrylic paint onto your baked-on color finish will breathe new life into your aluminum. It also allows you to display any beautiful color you like, assuming it doesn’t clash with the design of your home, of course.

In most cases, people would want to replace aluminum siding when it begins to show its age. 

Still, thankfully aluminum siding only needs to be replaced if there are damaged pieces or something has potentially punctured it by a heavy storm or natural occurrence.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use to Paint Aluminum Siding?

There is luckily no guesswork when it comes to what type of paint you want to use when applying a fresh coat of paint onto your aluminum siding, and that very paint is none other than 100-percent acrylic paint.

As we briefly went over above, acrylic paint is the only paint on the market that will not only maintain the color yield you were going for when you originally applied it, but it also grasps on firmly to the aluminum. It won’t peel or flake in the long run.

In terms of the specific kind of paint, if you were to go for a matte base color, you would benefit from the ability to hide poor brush strokes and still give off that professional-level look.

Will Paint Stay On Aluminum Siding?

Contrary to popular belief, paints adhesion on aluminum is surprisingly high. 

Even better than its vinyl siding counterpart, to the point that if you compared the two, you would find that the natural wood finish that vinyl can display may pale in comparison to a well-done paint job on aluminum.

One of the keys to getting your paint to staying where it needs to be and pulling off this look comes down to how much effort you put into cleaning the aluminum exterior itself, though.

To get it to that peerless clean state it needs to be in, you are going to want to utilize a power washer with a unique mixture of TSP, a simple capful of household bleach, and you are off to the races.

Is it Cheaper to Paint or Replace Aluminum Siding?

There is no question about it; painting aluminum siding will save you hundreds, if not thousands, on the overall job cost to keep your house looking exquisite in the long run.

Aluminum in itself isn’t costly in the first place. However, if you were attempting to get the most bang for your buck, investing in paint sounds much better than stripping down the old aluminum siding, doing all the other prep work, and then doing a fresh installation.

It’s just not very cost-effective or time-efficient to replace your aluminum siding if your only issue boils down to aesthetics.

Is it Okay to Power Wash Aluminum Siding?

You can pressure wash your aluminum exterior. As we mentioned above, it’s one of the premium ways to get it ready for your layer of paint. 

Make sure to use that cleaning mixture of TSP and a capful of bleach to have the most potent effect.

Be aware that TSP is an incredibly potent cleaning agent and can have some rather detrimental effects on not only you but your home if not diluted correctly. 

Please read the instructions on the product to show precisely how you want to go about diluting it to get your desired results.

Is it Better to Roll or Spray Exterior Paint?

You have quite a bit of flexibility at your disposal when it comes down to painting your aluminum exterior. Although, how the finished product looks will boil down to a few important key factors.

What Experience You Have

The first of which will come down to experience. If you are talented at interior painting, you may have a knack for understanding how to paint aluminum siding due to your experience with a brush. Still, this same understanding could lead to you putting in way more paint than you need.

Using paint rollers will not give you the best finish when painting aluminum siding. You’ll still need to use a brush to paint inside corners and under the edges of aluminum lap siding. Using a paint sprayer will provide a more even finish.

Having an Airless Sprayer

On the other hand, using an airless sprayer will give you a spotless, professional-level application of paint that will avoid the possibility of adding too many layers due to paint drying too fast. Even worse than that, large areas of running color can be very unsightly.

When painting aluminum siding you’ll get the best results using multiple thin coats of paint. Thin coats are best achieved with a paint sprayer rather than paint rollers.

How Much it Costs to Paint Aluminum Siding On the House?

Thus enters the elephant in the room, the overall cost of an exterior paint job is a tricky one to answer. You will need to consider how large your home or the project is, and secondly, whether or not you will be doing it personally or contracting the workout.

DIY Cost Estimate

Individual costs will vary significantly, but if you are going to DIY the project yourself, including paints, renting equipment, and everything else, you would be looking at an average cost of about $4,850 for a 2,500 square foot home.

Professional Cost Estimate

If you were to go to a professional painting company for comparison, the price goes up considerably, up to about $6,500 for that same 2,500 square foot home. 

Breakdown of Costs

Still, the difference is that you have a professional’s guaranteed handiwork, and if the finished product isn’t up to par, they have to redo it, not you.

  • Paint: Those prices come out to where they are because your average cost on color is about $450 for every 250 square feet, enough to cover the 2,500 feet we spoke of will run you about $4,500. 
  • Supplies: Not only that, but you will need supplies to get the job done, so that’s going to run you about $250, and to do the following prep work, you will need to rent a pressure washer, which is another $50 per day on average.

Can You Paint Aluminum Siding a Darker Color?

It stands to reason you can paint aluminum siding a darker color. Still, as we went over above, you typically want to go with a color that is just slightly lighter than the aluminum itself to avoid clashing colors.

Can You Paint Aluminum Siding a Different Color?

Assuming you or someone else had painted aluminum siding before, your end goal is to paint it a different color. 

In that case, you will need to sand the old stain away, add a layer of primer, and then paint with whatever new color you want to decide on going with.

Bear in mind this process is very tedious and better left to a professional than a DIY because any level of inexperience or effort will be blatantly apparent on the finished product.

Can I Paint Aluminum Siding Darker?

Yes, but the results will have diminishing returns as the paint itself won’t display correctly if the color itself is too much darker than the aluminum itself already is. 

Take some time to get a color that compliments your siding and doesn’t give an appearance of being forced.

What Type of Exterior Paint is Best for Aluminum Siding?

There is no better paint on aluminum siding than 100-percent acrylic paint.

With a proper primer application, the acrylic paint itself will bond together beautifully and not begin flaking or peeling.


Painting your aluminum siding will make your home go from bland to beautiful in a matter of time. 

Depending on your situation, going with a professional might be well worth the investment, considering there leaves little room for mistakes and a guaranteed coat that will catch the eye of anyone who beholds it.



Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.