Project Scope: Exterior

Exterior Painting for aluminum siding

How should I prep old aluminum siding before painting? What type of primer is the best for siding?

Remove as much "chalk", dirt and mildew as you can. This is done by power washing or by scrubbing and rinsing. The only times a primer would be needed are:

  1. if any bare aluminum is exposed; then use a latex corrosion-inhibitive primer;
  2. if there is still much "chalk" left on the surface, apply a quality exterior alkyd ("oil-based") primer recommended for aluminum siding by the manufacturer. ("Chalk" is powdery pigment on the surfaced of the weathered siding, that comes off when you rub the palm of your hand over the surface.)

After removing the old chalky white from aluminum siding, I was told to wipe the siding with mineral spirits before priming it. Is this a necessary step before washing it? I had to use a sander to remove the road salt and the siding was badly pitted.

No, unless you have some oily contaminant such as road tar on the siding, do not use mineral spirits. The road salt that you removed was probably white aluminum corrosion (aluminum oxide). After you clean and rinse the surface, you will need to prime all areas of exposed aluminum (that is, where you can see the metal), or where any of the white salts were.

For the primer, use a latex corrosion-inhibitive primer. Ask for this at a paint store. You may find it just as easy to prime all of the siding, rather than just the areas mentioned. If you do prime everything, you will get a more uniform appearance from the paint, compared with if you only prime some parts. For the paint itself, use a top of the line 100% acrylic latex house paint in a flat finish.

What type of paint should I use to paint aluminum siding?

In general, use a top of the line exterior 100% acrylic house and trim paint in a flat or satin finish. This assumes proper surface preparation, including removal of dirt, chalk and mildew. Unless metal is exposed, no primer is needed. If bare metal is visible, remove any white oxide with a non-metallic scouring pad such as ScotchBrite, then wash off and rinse, then apply a latex exterior corrosion inhibitive primer to the exposed metal area. As for the paint, use a flat if the siding is at all uneven and/or dented (while the satin finish will provide a rich, fresh appearance, it will accentuate the dents.

Savogran Savogran 10632 Liquid TSP Substitute Cleaner, Quart
Home Improvement (Savogran)
  • Heavy duty phosphate-free formula
  • Concentrated solution - lasts long!
  • Requires no rinsing
  • Excellent for preparing surfaces before painting
  • Works with power washers

Columbia MO Painters: Website Available Now for Painting Contractors  —
The website can be expanded or modified easily to suit the needs of a local residential or commercial painting company.

PL PL 1402255 Redwood Tan Polyurethane Window, Door and Siding Sealant
Home Improvement (PL)
  • caulk polyurethane sealant
Simpson Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot 3100 PSI 2.5 GPM Honda GCV190 Engine Gas Pressure Washer
Lawn & Patio (Simpson)
  • HONDA GC190 OHC premium residential - Engine oil is included
  • Maintenance-free OEM Technologies axial cam brass head pump with PowerBoost technology which provides higher pressure at the nozzle
  • Welded frame construction and 10? premium pneumatic tires
  • ¼x 25 MorFlex high pressure hose is kink and abrasion resistant, provides flexibility, and is equipped with easy twist-on connectors
  • Pro-style steel spray wand with 5 quick connect nozzle tips- 0°, 15°, 25°, 40°, and soap applicator nozzle
  • Convenient on-board accessory storage for spray gun/wand, high pressure hose, and nozzles
  • Downstream detergent injection system for use of cleaners
  • Ergonomic spray gun with safety lock-out
  • Limited Warranty ? Consumer Use - 2 Years on HONDA GC engine, 1 Year on frame and pump components, 90 Days on spray accessory items. Every machine is tested and...
Anvil Paints Anvil Aqua Seal Waterproofer Bonding Primer Acrylic Clear Penetrating Sealer 1 Gallon
Home Improvement (Anvil Paints)
  • Waterproofs and seals vertical surfaces. Mold & mildew resistance.
  • Binds and preps chalky surfaces prior to painting.
  • Easy to apply and is soap and water clean-up. 50 state VOC compliant.
  • Rejuvenates old brick and plaster.
  • Seal brick, stucco and concrete. Brighten aluminum siding.
Valspar Corporation Valspar 11298 Professional Exterior Latex Primer, 5-Gallon
Home Improvement (Valspar Corporation)
  • Best for Exterior Durability
  • Gives a mildew-resistant coating
  • For fiber cement siding, concrete block and masonry, bare or painted wood, and aluminum or vinyl gutters and downspouts
  • Low odor, low VOC

Popular Q&A

What kind of paint do I use on exterior aluminum siding?

Look for a high-quality exterior latex paint. You will find that some paints are recommended for aluminum siding. The preparation is even more important than the paint itself! Scrub the siding thoroughly, and rinse well with a garden hose. You will probably see a lot of chalky paint washing away. If there are any areas where the original finish washes off down to the metal, prime these areas with an oil-base primer such as Killz. With the proper preparation, your paint job will have a long life. Improper or sloppy preparation can lead to blistering and peeling, and you will end up strip…

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