Painting aluminum siding.
August 18, 2010 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with painting aluminum siding? In our case, the siding is blistered and peeling very badly and the bare aluminum is showing.

We bought our home (1920s city colonial) about seven years ago, and after about one year the paint started peeling off of the siding. The previous homeowner seems to have made some bad home repair decisions. She may or may not have been taken for a few rides by "home repair specials." Per the neighbor across the way, one of them was having the siding painted before selling the house. Either way, we now have peeling paint on aluminum siding.

We had a house painter come out and explain the following: The new coat of paint didn't contain the special chemical that bonds it to the siding. Since it has this 'bad coat' nothing can be done to paint the house. The painter explained that all of the paint would have to be stripped off with chemicals, then painted fresh. Considering that cost, it was explained that we might as put on new siding.

Skip forward a few years, the neighborhood is finally sprucing up and we are now more interested in getting this eyesore taken care of. A few of the "contractors" (professional handymen, mostly) are saying that there is no reason that we couldn't just have the house painted, that as long as the actively blistered paint is cleared off, a new round of special primer/paint will adhere, through the bad coat, to the siding underneath.

The house painter also did siding, so I'm hesitant to believe that they didn't have a hidden agenda. These professional handymen that are flipping houses in the neighborhood have an interest in just making sure my house "looks good" when they go to list their investment on the market.

The siding is in fine shape; if we can just paint it and expect that the paint job will last, we would prefer that route.

So, hivemind, what say you about painting over peeling paint on aluminum siding?

Bonus: I know that wood needs to be painted regularly. I also know that my grandparents have had the same aluminum siding on their home for more than 30 years. If we do repaint it, is it like a factory finish again or are we just doomed to repaint it every 5-10 years, like it was wood?
posted by wg to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
Not an expert here but the exposed aluminum will have oxidization on its' surface. That alone will cause eventual need for repainting.

When was the siding painted? If it was before the mid 70's there is a good chance that there is lead in the paint, further exacerbating removal for repainting.

Assuming it was painted with out lead paint, it would be ideal to strip it and start anew with the proper paint. If the old paint is not removed, but only the bubbling parts scrapped off, you will still have minute loose edges, which over time will blister.

I'd weigh the costs between a proper strip/repaint with other options, including new siding in aluminum or fiber cement siding. Just don't go vinyl, it can burn or melt from nearby heat sources (I have seen many a melted garage side from punks starting garbage cans on fire).
posted by Max Power at 9:21 AM on August 18, 2010

as long as the actively blistered paint is cleared off, a new round of special primer/paint will adhere, through the bad coat, to the siding underneath

This is pure BS.

I am not a chemist. I do have some experience with industrial coatings, albeit primarily ones intended for wood. I've never met a coating that could bond to a substrate through another coating.

My parents' house also has 30+ year-old aluminum siding, still in good shape aside from some dents and mild oxidation. It sounds as if your siding was bad from the factory. No spray-on treatment is going to fix it.
posted by jon1270 at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2010

Call Rustoleum. Their business is built on adhering paint to metal. Their chemists can provide the straight dope on this one.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:29 AM on August 18, 2010

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