Painting Vinyl Siding

Dear NH,
I have an old house I bought that was sided with vinyl siding in the 1970's, it is in good shape, except it is so discolored. Can it be painted? Also, what is a good way to clean it... it is a two-story!
KS from Minnesota

There is some debate as to whether vinyl siding should be painted. The controversy surrounds the expansion and contraction of vinyl siding, which is much greater than wood or aluminum siding. Paints that do not expand with the siding will crack.

However, this is not a problem if you use top quality acrylic latex primers and paints. Acrylic latex paints are remarkably flexible and, providing the surface is thoroughly cleaned, will work well on vinyl.

The siding should be cleaned and dried thoroughly. For hand washing, Owens Corning recommends the following cleaning solution: 1/3 cup powdered detergent (Fab(r), Tide(r) or equivalent powdered detergent), 2/3 cup Spic & Span(r) or equivalent powdered household cleaner dissolved in 1 gallon water. If your vinyl has mildew, substitute a quart of household bleach for one quart of water in the mix.

Apply the solution with a sponge or an automobile brush. Rinse thoroughly while still wet.

Of course, you could simplify your life and rent power washing equipment, which would be quicker and also make cleaning the upper level somewhat easier!! Just be sure to get a cleaning solution designed for powerwashers... or you might end up loosing you home in a mountain of soap suds!!

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