Prep: Purchase a nonabrasive cleaner or create your own cleaning solution to remove soot and grime by mixing one-third cup of a powdered laundry detergent (like Tide) and two-thirds cup powdered household cleaner (like Spic & Span) with one gallon of water. If mold and mildew are present, add one quart of liquid laundry bleach to your solution.
Clean: Use a car-washing brush (or any soft-bristled brush) to clean off your siding. This type of brush has a handle that fastens onto the end of your hose. Start with the bottom of your house and work your way up to avoid streaks. This step will expose any discolorations or damage that may have been masked by accumulated debris.
Rinse: After cleaning away any dirt, rinse your siding with clean water. Take care to point the hose downwards to avoid having water accumulate behind your siding. Let it dry completely.
Tip: Make sure that you use a nonabrasive cleaner and do it on a sunny day. Abrasive cleaners or a stiff brush will damage the finish of your siding and can make it look splotchy. You can use a pressure washer, but keep in mind that pressure washing your siding at a strong setting could damage it.
Repair, Repair, Repair
Repair: Once your siding is clean and dry, you’ll be able to take stock of any repairs that need to be made. If you have a particularly rough part of old siding, you can usually remove it and replace it with a similar-style siding from your local home-improvement store. This can be a cost-effective way to avoid replacing the entire section.
Tip: Now would also be a good time to check the siding warranty of your existing siding—it may hold some information about getting repairs covered by the manufacturer, if within the appropriate time frame.
Final Clean: Clean up any other stains or discolorations you discover after your repairs (see above).
Decide on Primer: Figure out if you need a primer. The best way to make this decision is by going with your paint manufacturer’s recommendation. Most manufacturers will recommend applying primer, as it will help the final look of the paint look consistent and helps the paint adhere if your vinyl is pitted or porous.
Pick Your Paint: Paint technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past years, but all professionals still agree on avoiding dark vinyl siding paint colors for your new color choice. It’s important to pick the right paint for your own personal aesthetic because you’ll likely have it for many years to come, but dark colors trap heat and in hotter months could damage the underlying siding, making it prone to warping.
You can start your new color journey at the stores for the big paint companies like Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore. Benjamin Moore notes that all of their exterior house paints are vinyl-safe.
Micetich encourages double-checking your paint choice. She says, “You’ll need to choose a specific type of paint that won’t crack when the material expands and contracts at different temperatures. The paint should be latex urethane for exterior use.” She also recommends picking the same or a lighter color than your current color for your new choice and avoiding darker colors.