How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Can vinyl siding be painted?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Vinyl siding color lasts for the lifetime of the material according to manufacturers, with a little fading over the years. But homeowners that want to refresh their house exterior with a color change can paint the siding—after careful cleaning of the surface and use of a latex paint that will flex along with the thermal expansion and contraction of the material. There are even paints specially formulated for vinyl siding. The downside is that some manufacturers void their warranty if it has been painted.

    If you ever wondered why vinyl siding is only made in light colors, it’s because the heat absorption of a dark color on a sunny, hot day can cause the vinyl to warp. So selecting a new color that is also a light shade is recommended.

    The problem we encounter as home inspectors when looking at a house for sale with freshly painted vinyl siding is twofold: 1) we don’t know if the surface has been properly prepped for paint and, 2) if the paint is formulated by the manufacturer to bond well with the vinyl surface. A quick spray paint job over everything on the exterior of the house, like in the close-up view above of vinyl siding, a concrete stem wall, and a louver dryer vent all spray-coated with the same paint, may hold up just fine a year later. Then again, it might bubble up and flake off. Only time will tell. So we call it out as an “area of concern” on an inspection report.

   A sure sign of a quick-and-dirty spray paint job is when the foliage near the ground was not trimmed away before spraying, like in the photo below. Even a garden house hanging on the wall was spray-painted over at the fiber-cement siding on a flip house we inspected a few weeks ago.

    Also, see our blog posts Can vinyl lap siding be installed diagonally? and What do you look for when inspecting vinyl siding?

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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:

What is the average lifespan of a house foundation?

What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?

What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 

What is the difference between soil subsidence, heave, creep, and settlement? 

How much ventilation is required for the under-floor crawl space of a home? 

 What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?

What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 

How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into sandy powder? 

What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

What is engineered wood siding?

Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair? 

What is a "continuous load path”?

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?

        Visit our EXTERIOR WALLS AND STRUCTURE page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 


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