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A Coat of Paint Can Hide Siding's Age

November 28, 1998|From ASSOCIATED PRESS

Aluminum and steel siding, which took the nation by storm in the 1950s and 1960s, promised--and delivered--an end to regular and costly painting.

But with much of it in place for nearly a generation now, these sidings are showing their age. Now, ironicaly, many homeowners are opting to dress up their siding with paint.

In many cases, tastes have simply changed. Yesterday's visionary colors have become today's eyesores. Moreover, the factory-applied paint coatings keep chalking over, leaving a dusty, lackluster appearance.

This chalking (easily seen by rubbing your fingertips over the siding), while unattractive, is no accident. Paint coatings made for metallic surfaces are designed to chalk. It allows the paint to slough off tree sap, bird droppings and other natural stains.

If chalking is your only complaint, a good scrubbing may be all your siding needs. However, if you've wondered if your steel or aluminum siding would hold a coat of paint, without initiating the very cycle of repainting that you spent good money to avoid in the first place, the answer is a qualified yes.

Although your own paint job will not likely hold up as well as a factory coating, metallic surfaces generally hold paint better than wood or composite-fiber surfaces.

The reason is that metal does not absorb and release moisture with changes in temperature and humidity.

This breathing process is what causes paint to blister and lose its grip on wood and hardboard sidings.

Choosing the right paint is critical. You'll want to do this only once, so a garden-variety latex is out of the question. Instead, choose a high-quality, and slightly higher-priced, 100% acrylic paint. It will bond well to metal and dry with a hard, smooth finish.

Before painting, prepare the surface by removing the chalk buildup. A mild household detergent and a scouring pad will do the job. Scrub an area and rinse it off thoroughly before moving on.

Seal any seams between exposed wood and siding and around plumbing and electrical openings.

Painting aluminum requires no special skills, but attention to detail improves the final appearance.

As always, start painting from the top and work down. Paint the field first and then the trim. Make sure you load the brush with plenty of paint and smooth out your strokes carefully.

When it comes to painting the interior surfaces of J-molding and the siding that abuts it, the brushwork can be tricky. It's easy to load too much paint into these narrow strips, and, because your brush must lie against the siding, it's easy to drag fresh paint off the siding near the J-molding.

If this is a problem, paint the inside channel of all J-molding first. Then, after this paint dries, paint the rest of the siding.

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