How to Paint Cladding

Updated November 21, 2016

Exterior cladding--also known as siding--covers homes of all ages. A Victorian home wrapped in wooden clapboard will require ongoing painting to present a fresh face to the street. Homes clad in aluminium and vinyl siding, while designed to be maintenance-free, may also be painted for a dramatic colour change. Proper paint selection, surface preparation and weather conditions will help ensure a long-lasting finish.

Buy your primer and paint. You get what you pay for, so select the highest quality products you can afford. If you are painting wood or heavily stained or soiled cladding, go for a stain-blocking primer. Have it tinted to a shade close to your paint colour. Buy 100 per cent acrylic latex paint for your topcoat.

Check the weather forecast. Ideal painting conditions are 18 to 29 degrees Celsius and moderate humidity. Do not apply latex paint products below 10 degrees Celsius. Since paint requires time to dry, do not try to squeeze a coat in prior to a rain shower. Start painting after the morning dew has evaporated and before evening dampness sets in. Never paint in direct sunlight. Ideally, the area you paint should stay shaded until the paint has dried.

Prepare your work area. Lay dust sheets over plants, furniture and grass.

Inspect the cladding for mildew and remove with a solution of one part household bleach to three parts water. Leave the solution sit for 20 to 30 minutes, reapplying if it dries. Scrub the mildew away with a rag or wire brush then rinse thoroughly with water. Any mildew that is left will simply grow back so remove all traces before painting.

Clean the siding. A power washer works well. Let the siding dry completely.

Remove all loose or flaking original paint with a scraper or coarse sandpaper (80- or 100-grit).

Repair any chips, dents or holes using a putty knife and non-shrinking putty or wood filler. Allow the putty to dry, then sand it smooth and level with the rest of the siding using fine sandpaper (220-grit). Remove any sanding dust.

Scrape away any old caulk and replace it with new exterior-grade caulk.

Mask off areas around eaves, trim and other surfaces that you don't want to be painted. Use painter's tape.

Prime the edges of each siding "board" using a high-quality paintbrush. Start at the top of the wall and work your way down. Be careful to get your paintbrush into the grooves and to brush out any drips. The primer should form an outline around each siding board.

Fill in the unprimed flat surface of each board. You can use a paintbrush or a high-quality paint roller with a nap suitable for the type of siding you are painting. For unpainted wood siding, brush or roll the primer in vertical strokes first to ensure proper absorption, then brush or roll in the direction of the wood grain. Be sure to overlap the already primed edges for proper coverage. Allow the primer to dry fully.

Apply a first coat of paint following the same method as for the primer. Avoid overworking the paint or touching up areas that are drying. Allow the paint to dry fully.

Apply a second coat, following the method used for the first coat.


Mix your primer and paint thoroughly and frequently during the project. If the paint components separate it will affect the longevity of your paint finish. Paint any door or window trim after you have finished painting the cladding. When working in humid or cool conditions, allow more time between paint coats.


Do not paint in direct sun or on cladding that is hot from being in the sun. This will cause the paint to look uneven and may cause blisters on the paint surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Step ladder, extension ladder or scaffolding
  • Power washer
  • Household bleach
  • Gloves
  • Paint scraper
  • Wire brush
  • Rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Putty knife
  • Wood filler
  • Dust sheets
  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Painter's tape
  • Paintbrush (2 or 2.5 inches wide)
  • Roller
  • Paint tray
  • Stir sticks
  • Primer
  • Paint
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About the Author

Jennifer Dawson is a Canadian researcher and writer who started freelancing in 2007. Specializing in environment and health topics, her work has appeared in “The Health Journal,” "Nutrition and Your Health," "Alternatives" and “Together Family.” Dawson has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in anthropology from McMaster University.