As a siding contractor, we get this question a lot. If your siding is starting to look worse for the wear and it's time to give it a facelift, painting can be a great option. But depending on the type of siding you have, painting your old siding could actually be a waste of time and money. It may not even be feasible. This is because paint or stains do not always adhere to all types of siding the same. Additionally, a fresh coat of paint on old or deteriorated siding just won’t last.

Painting Cedar Siding

Cedarwood or natural wood siding is typically stained. But some solid body stains and paints may not adhere to old cedar siding effectively. If the wrong product was applied at any point in time, this underlying layer can contribute to the premature failure of a new coat. Cedar siding, especially older cedar siding that is warped, drying out, splitting, or cracking can present the most difficult challenges for a quality paint or stain application.

Old wood siding with chipping paint

Each layer of paint is meant to last up to 5-10 years but each time a new layer is added, that layer will have a shorter life than the one before it. This is because the wood will have a harder time absorbing each layer. Oftentimes older cedar siding is a strong candidate for siding replacement, because painting it is simply no longer worth the money.

Painting Fiberboard or Engineered Wood 

Fiberboard or engineered wood siding when in good condition can very effectively hold a coat of exterior paint. However, if this siding isn't diligently maintained these products absorb water, which causes the sidnig to expand, swell, and deform. Once engineered wood siding expands and continues to retain moisture it will no longer allow the proper adhesion of new paint. This can become a significant problem, as the paint itself is critical to waterproofing the siding. Because Fiberboard or similar materials are not a natural wood product, it cannot be prepped and sanded like natural wood. A homeowner would then have to paint more frequently to ensure the engineered wood siding did not continue to fail both in function and style. If you do decide to paint deteriorated fiberboard or engineered wood siding, be sure to replace all damaged siding and trim prior to painting.

Painting Vinyl Siding 

While an extremely popular product, vinyl siding is not really meant to be painted. Vinyl siding is ordered and installed in the desired color then any additional exterior paint typically does not bond well to it.

old siding, warped vinyl siding

Because it is a plastic product it is subject to thermal expansion and contraction, meaning the product will move as it gets hot and cold throughout the day and throughout the seasons. This can contribute to peeling and chipping of added exterior paint. Additionally, as a plastic product, vinyl siding can become brittle over time and the original color can fade due to exposure to ultraviolet rays (UV).  As such, in our opinion, you should not paint vinyl siding but fully replace it with a product built for Colorado. In fact, with all this in mind, we do not recommend vinyl siding at all in the Colorado climate.

Painting Fiber Cement Siding 

One of the great things about fiber cement siding is that it is built to last, not only in function but also in style. This means that if a homeowner is looking to paint fiber-cement siding it's typically not needed. Moreover, a replacement is probably not needed either. We see this all the time.

Take the top fiber-cement siding manufacturer: James Hardie. Hardie siding is meant to last far longer than other siding options. Thus, a new homeowner can move in with the siding looking faded from its original colors without even knowing it. Typically, the home just needs a good wash. This can be due to many things but typically the siding has been oxidized, creating a chalky, dusty coating on the siding, creating and contributing to a faded look.

Oxidation is essentially a chemical reaction between two substances, in this case its the siding material reacting to and with the oxygen and dirt particles in the air. This can be easily cleaned off with a pressure washer and/or a soft siding brush. If you choose to power wash your siding, James Hardie recommends using a wide fan tip, staying at least 6 feet away from the wall, and keeping the pressure below 1500 psi. They also recommend washing the home every 6 to 12 months with a garden hose as part of regular maintenance.

Well, Should You Paint Your Siding? 

This, of course, all depends on your needs. If you are considering selling your home, painting may be a great option to upgrade the look for now. But if you are looking to invest in your family home and reduce costs and maintenance over time, you may want to upgrade to siding which is built to last and built to look good. 

Upgrade to Siding that is Built for Colorado 

Painting the home can upgrade the look for now but a lot of times chipping or peeling paint is indicative of a greater issue like warped wood that is taking on moisture.

Repainting this wood siding will not fix the issue, it will just cover it up for a while. It is a lower-cost solution that may not last over time. Instead of painting old, chipping or rotting siding, upgrade to James Hardie fiber-cement siding. With James Hardie siding, you are not only upgrading the look of your siding but its durability and its ability to keep out the elements (including fire) while also increasing the value of your home. James Hardie siding is built to look good, to keep out the elements, and built to last. Hardie siding is specifically engineered to withstand damage from moisture and rot. Additionally, because it's not wood, OSB, or wood-composite siding, it offers little appeal to critters and termites. It is also a great non-combustible option.

James Hardie siding will not ignite when exposed to direct flame, nor will it contribute fuel to a fire. Due to its noncombustible qualities and its generally exceptional durability, many insurance companies will offer homeowners a discount on their insurance premiums.

In fact, this is not the only return on investment offered for homeowners who upgrade to James Hardie siding. Because of its durability and style, a James Hardie siding upgrade increases a home's value after installation. Last year, homeowners saw over a 65% return on their investment after installing a fiber-cement siding replacement (percentage of cost recouped using job cost and home resale value). With the cost to paint or repair siding in mind, Colorado homeowners should consider an investment in James Hardie fiber cement siding.

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