Painting aluminum siding can help revive old, worn siding and give your home a fresh new look. However, you must follow proper preparation and application steps to ensure the paint holds up over time.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to successfully paint aluminum siding so you can tackle this project with ease. 

1. Clean and Prepare the Surface

Properly preparing aluminum siding before painting is crucial for getting the paint to adhere and last. 

Follow these steps to prepare the aluminum siding for painting: 

  • Start by thoroughly cleaning the siding with a pressure washer or strong hose to remove chalkiness, dirt, mildew, and loose paint. For stubborn dirt areas, use a detergent solution or siding cleaner and scrub with a stiff brush.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • Check for any damaged pieces of siding and replace them. 
  • Remove any protruding nails and smooth rough spots. 
  • Sand glossy areas to help the paint adhere better. Carefully go over the siding and look for any remaining chalky areas, peeling paint, or bare aluminum, and spot-clean those areas.
  • Allow the siding to fully dry for at least 24 hours before applying primer. 

2. Apply Primer

Priming aluminum siding before painting provides an essential foundation. Oil-based metal primers and self-etching primers bond well on aluminum, making them our preferred choice. 

Take the following steps to set yourself up for success when painting aluminum: 

  • Make sure to apply the primer thoroughly and evenly across the entire surface. This step helps the paint stick and prevents future cracking or peeling.
  • Apply a high-quality oil-based or self-etching metal primer made for aluminum siding. Oil-based and self-etching primers work better than latex for aluminum because they flex less and don’t react with metal.
  • Use a brush to prime corners and edges, then switch to a roller for large, flat expanses.
  • Apply the primer in thin, even coats (usually around one to two millimeters thick) following the manufacturer’s recommendations. 
  • Check that you have complete coverage. If needed, apply two coats of primer to ensure proper adhesion and an even base layer for the paint.
  • Let the primer dry for at least 24 hours before painting. 
  • Check for any shiny or slick spots and re-prime if needed.

3. Topcoat with Paint

For best results, use 100% acrylic exterior latex paint over the self-etching or oil-based primer. Acrylic paint stands up well to weather and resists cracking, peeling, and fading. Choose a flat or satin finish to help minimize the appearance of any imperfections in the siding.

Before applying the topcoat, lightly sand any rough primer spots and wipe away dust. Apply at least two finish coats of paint, allowing sufficient time for each coat to fully dry as specified by the manufacturer before adding the next one. We recommend using a paintbrush for hard-to-reach spots and a roller for large areas.

In our experience, it works best if you paint the siding using parallel strokes and maintain a wet edge to prevent lap marks.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Always paint on dry, mild days with minimal wind, and avoid painting in direct sunlight or hot surfaces.

4. Cleanup and Protection

Remove any paint drips from windows, surfaces, and landscaping. Clean brushes and rollers thoroughly. Properly dispose of any unused paint and containers. 

To extend the life of the new paint job, install gutter guards to prevent staining from roof runoff. We also recommend keeping trees and bushes trimmed back so they don’t touch the house and aiming sprinklers away from the house. In addition, clean any mildew that develops to prevent discoloration.

So, Is Painting Aluminum Siding Worth It?

Painting aluminum siding can be worth the time and investment. It offers an affordable way to update the look of your home without the cost of complete siding replacement. Properly prepped and painted aluminum siding can go 10 years or longer before needing repainting.

The project does require diligent surface prep and proper application of primer and paint. DIY painting may take a whole weekend or longer. While hiring a professional painter will add to the cost, it ensures high-quality results. 

FAQs About Painting Aluminum Siding

What type of primer should I use? 

An oil-based or self-etching primer made specifically for metal is best for aluminum siding. Latex primers can react with aluminum, creating gas and leading to bubbling and chipping.

What kind of paint should I use? 

A 100% acrylic exterior latex paint is recommended for primed aluminum siding. Avoid cheaper paints that are more prone to peeling and less durable.

How long does it take for primer to dry? 

A good rule of thumb is to allow the primer to dry for at least 24 hours between coats. However, cool or humid conditions can lengthen the drying time needed.

How often will I need to repaint aluminum? 

With proper surface preparation and application, painted aluminum siding should go five to 10 years before needing repainting.

Can I use a paint sprayer? 

Yes, you can spray primer and paint on aluminum siding, but it’s essential to back-brush each coat to work the color into the grooves.

What if my aluminum siding is faded or chalky? 

Heavy chalkiness or oxidation may need to be cleaned with an alkaline siding wash before priming.

Editorial Contributors
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Amy DeYoung


Amy DeYoung has a passion for educating and motivating homeowners to improve their lives through home improvement projects and preventative measures. She is a content writer and editor specializing in pest control, moving, window, and lawn/gardening content for Today’s Homeowner. Amy utilizes her own experience within the pest control and real estate industry to educate readers. She studied business, communications, and writing at Arizona State University.

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Lee Ann Merrill

Chicago-based Lee Ann Merrill has decades of experience writing and editing across a wide range of technical and scientific subjects. Her love of DIY, gardening, and making led her to the realm of creating and honing quality content for homeowners. When she's not working on her craft, you can find her exploring her city by bike and plotting international adventures.

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