Category: Roofing & Siding

Bob Vila Radio: Painting Aluminum Siding

If the aluminum siding on your home has seen better days, but you don't want to replace it completely, consider repainting it instead. Here are a few tips to give your siding a new lease on life.

Aluminum siding started to become popular after World War II, when this metal, which had been so crucial to the war effort, became more readily available. Valued for its weather resistance, low maintenance requirements, and long-lasting finish, aluminum was a common siding choice until vinyl overtook it in the 1970s.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING ALUMINUM SIDING or read the text below:

painting aluminum siding


Although it’s durable, aluminum siding is prone to denting, and its color chalks and fades over time. But if you live in an aluminum-clad home that has lost its luster, replacement isn’t your only option. If you’re otherwise happy with your siding’s performance, consider cleaning, patching, and repainting it instead.

First you’ll need to replace any dented or damaged sections. Then scrape off flaking paint, and chisel out and reapply caulk lines as necessary. Scrub away mildew with a bleach-water solution before hand-washing the siding with soap and warm water. To speed things up, you can power-wash instead, using a low-pressure tip. Let the siding dry for a few days before painting, beginning with an application of galvanized metal etching primer. Once the primer is dry, paint the house using 100 percent acrylic exterior paint. A low-luster finish will help hide surface irregularities, and I strongly recommend two coats.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Quick Tip: Shingling a Roof

If you are going to shingle a roof the do-it-yourself way, employ the technique described here for a high-performing, long-lasting installation.

Here is a tip you can use to shingle your own roof. Make a starter course at the edge of the eave, laying the shingles upside down. Trim one-third off your first shingle, so the joints will be staggered, then lay your first course over that, with tabs down. Form a pyramid of overlapping shingles, trimming each by six inches so that all rows will have overlapping joints. Then continue to lay rows from bottom to top, using whole shingles.

For more on roofing, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Roofing
Installing Asphalt Roofing Shingles (VIDEO)
Roofing Roundup: 7 of Today’s Most Popular Choices

Quick Tip: Priming Clapboards

Priming clapboards before installing them helps to prevent the incursion of damage from the elements.

When applying clapboards as exterior siding to your home, it’s a good idea to prime both sides of the clapboards before installation. By treating the backside of the clapboards, the cut ends, and the exposed face, you’re adding a moisture barrier to all surfaces of the wood. Water damage is the chief cause of premature deterioration of your house exterior.

For more on siding, consider:

Wood Siding Options
Adding Clapboard Siding (VIDEO)
Quick Tip: Installing Clapboard Siding

Quick Tip: Metal Roofing Shingles

Longer-lasting and better-performing than many alternatives, metal roofing shingles no longer belong to rural barns and backyard sheds only.

Metal roofs have long been associated with agricultural and industrial use, but these days, new metal roofing systems designed for residential use are becoming enormously popular. The standing-seam steel shingles are coated to resist corrosion and can withstand high winds, rain, snow and ice. Installation’s easy, and there’s no welding involved; you just attach the shingles to the roof with metal clips and screws.

For more on roofing, consider:

Metal Roofs on the Rise
Bob Vila Radio: Metal Roofs
Debunking 5 Metal Roof Myths

Quick Tip: Installing Wood Shingle Siding

Homeowners love to install cedar siding—or pine, spruce, fir or redwood siding—not only for its looks and longevity, but also for its DIY-friendliness.

Wood shingle siding installation is a breeze, but keeping courses straight is tough. If you want to shingle the side of your house, here’s a good tip on how to keep each course perfectly straight. First, snap a leveled chalk line and then attach a length of strapping as your guide. Lay a course of shingles on the strapping, making sure the joints are staggered. Leave about five inches exposed to the weather and repeat this process from the bottom of your wall to the top.

For more on siding, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
How To: Stain Wood Shingle Siding
Siding Roundup: 8 Options to Beautify Your Home

How To: Install Roof Flashing

Install roof flashing in a stepped fashion, with overlapping sheets of aluminum, for effective and long-lasting protection from the elements.

Flashing is a good way of preventing water from entering a dwelling at the point where the roof meets the walls. To begin the installation, fold a five-by-seven piece of aluminum flashing lengthwise. Start at the bottom and work up, nailing high on the side wall and interweaving the flashing with the roof shingles. Overlap the pieces of flashing and repeat this process all the way up.

For more on roofing, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Roofing
Leaky Roof? Some Repair Tips
Roofing Roundup: 7 of Today’s Most Popular Choices

How To: Install Vinyl Siding

Using only a small number of basic tools, you can easily install vinyl siding the do-it-yourself way, cutting the project cost by almost half.

Here are some things to remember when you install vinyl siding on your home. First of all, you hang vinyl siding, so don’t hammer your nails all the way in. And leave a 3/4-inch overlap between interlocking panel (this will allow for expansion and contraction in hot and cold weather). Lay all of your seams so that they are only noticeable from one direction. Vinyl siding won’t dent, and since the color is uniform throughout, you can scrub it clean.

For more on siding, consider:

How To: Clean Vinyl Siding
Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
10 Superb Reasons to Consider Vinyl Siding

How To: Remove Exterior Paint with a Pressure Washer

Use a pressure washer to make speedy work of an otherwise taxing, tedious, and time-consuming task.

Before you repaint your house, you have to remove all loose and peeling paint. A pressure washer makes the job go faster, and you can do it yourself. Use a minimum 15-degree spray nozzle, with even strokes, 18 to 24 inches from the surface to avoid damaging the wood. For especially difficult areas, you can use a zero-degree nozzle but to get the hang of it, practice first on an out-of-the-way place. Allow your siding to dry at least 24 hours before repainting.

For more on siding, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
Powering Washing the Home Exterior (VIDEO)
Siding Roundup: 8 Options to Beautify Your Home

Quick Tip: Engineered Wood Siding

Engineered wood siding convincingly mimics the genuine article, even as it offers installation and long-term performance advantages.

For exterior trim work and siding, pre-engineered lumber has several key features that make it a practical option. It’s pre-primed so that it cuts down on paint time. It’s treated with EPA-approved preservatives, giving it extra resistance to decay and insect damage. There are no knotholes or imperfections, and it’s easy to cut and drill.

For more on siding, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
Siding Roundup: 8 Options to Beautify Your Home
Everything You Need to Know About Engineered Wood Siding

Don’t Can Your Aluminum Siding!

Breathe new life into your aluminum siding by repairing, cleaning, and painting it. It's a big project, but a DIYer with a true "can"-do attitude can tackle it.

Painting Aluminum Siding


Aluminum siding first became popular in the wake of World War II, when this metal, which had been so crucial to the war effort, became more readily available. Homeowners valued the material for its weather protection and insulating properties. They also loved that, in comparison with wood siding, aluminum requires little maintenance. But when vinyl siding arrived in the late 1950s, aluminum rapidly fell out of favor, in part because it was prone to denting and its color faded relatively quickly.

Related: Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding

That’s not to say that if you live in an aluminum-clad home, you should replace your siding. On the contrary, those attributes that once made it a favorite are as appealing today as they were in the 1940s. Aluminum remains a low-maintenance, first-rate insulating barrier against the weather. So long as your aluminum siding is performing to your satisfaction, consider preserving it by cleaning, patching, and painting your siding.

Before painting aluminum siding, you may find it necessary—or merely desirable—to replace any sections that have been dented or otherwise damaged. After all, one virtue of this cladding material is that it lends itself so easily to repair work. Follow these simple steps:

1. Draw a square around the section of damaged aluminum siding that you would like to remove.

2. Cut away the section, using tin snips in combination with a utility knife, leaving a clean, square hole to patch.

3. Cut the replacement patch to size (three inches larger than the section you initially cut out).

4. Use tin snips to take the nailing strip off the replacement patch.

5. Spread clear silicone caulk on the back of the patch.

6. Press the patch firmly in place, tucking its top behind the row of siding running directly above the area you are repairing.

7. Wipe away the excess silicone, using your finger to smooth the joints where the patch meets the original siding.

There’s still more preparation to address before painting aluminum siding. You need to scrape off peeling and flaking paint, and then chisel out any old caulk lines and apply new ones. Scrub away any mildew with a solution of three parts water to one part household bleach. Remove dirt and grime by hand-washing the siding with soap and warm water. Alternatively, if you want to speed up the job of cleaning, rent a power washer. Just be sure to accessorize the tool with a low-pressure tip, being careful to direct the water stream directly at the siding. Never spray upward; by doing so, you may force water behind the aluminum. If you spot any aluminum oxidation or rust, remove that too before rinsing the exterior surface with a garden hose. Do not begin painting until the siding has been allowed to dry completely; it should take about three or four days.

Painting Aluminum Siding - Off White


With painter’s tape and lengths of plastic sheeting, protect items and areas adjacent to the siding. (Once you have completed the paint job, remember to remove the tape as soon as possible so that it doesn’t adhere permanently.)

For best results, begin with an application of galvanized metal etching primer. Coat on the product with a synthetic polyester paintbrush, covering the full surface area before allowing the primer to cure for a minimum of four hours.

Next, apply 100 percent acrylic exterior paint. Use a brush at first to paint the edges, then proceed to “load up” the roller. After pouring a few inches of paint into a tray, dip in the roller. Run the tool back and forth over the ribbed area to ensure that paint gets evenly distributed over the roller, with little or no excess to cause drips.

Wield your paint roller from left to right if the siding is horizontal, or up and down if the siding is vertically oriented. Start painting at the top and work your way down. As you go, smooth bumps in the wet paint with a clean paintbrush.

Continue until you have applied paint to the entire area you set out to cover. Allow at least two hours for the coat of paint to dry. It’s strongly recommended that you add a second coat to achieve a long-lasting and professional-looking finish.

Because they excel in hiding surface irregularities, low-luster (also called satin) finishes usually look better on aluminum siding than do other types of paint.