Should You Paint Vinyl Windows?

The vinyl windows on your home are a great investment and are easy to maintain. However, it's likely that existing exterior windows are either white or tan in color. Changing exterior windows colors can give your exterior decor extra spark and curb appeal, but there are factors to take into consideration.

Vinyl Window Paint Issues

  1. Check with the manufacturer of your vinyl windows--not a window or paint dealer--to see if painting vinyl windows voids the warranty on them.
  2. Be aware that the primer paint that is necessary for making paint bond to a vinyl window may soften the vinyl. When heated by the sun, this potentially can cause sagging in the PVC from which the window frame is made.
  3. Adding primer and paint layers may increase the amount of heat the window absorbs.
  4. Changing to a hue or shade darker than the original color increases the heat buildup, which further adds to the risk of sagging.

A Quick Guide to Painting Vinyl Windows

Here's some advice on painting vinyl windows if you decide to go for it:

  1. Clean the window frames very thoroughly with detergent and water using clean rags or sponges.
  2. If they have a buildup of grime that detergent can't handle, wipe them lightly with acetone.
  3. Let the windows dry completely--four hours or so.
  4. Sand the windows very lightly in the direction of any wood grain. Wash away any residue.
  5. Apply a thin coat of primer designed for vinyl windows or siding. Let it dry.
  6. Apply the first, very thin coat of a latex paint recommended by the vinyl window manufacturer, or one specifically formulated for vinyl windows. Brush in the direction of the simulated wood grain. Don't worry about covering every little bit of the underlying color--it's more important to keep the coat as thin as possible. Let the coat dry very thoroughly.
  7. Apply a second very thin coat of the paint. This should be enough to cover any remaining underlying color.

Alternatives to Vinyl Window Paint

If your goal is to change colors on your home's appearance, alternatives to painting your vinyl window trim include painting gutters, the entry door, entry or porch posts and any railings. Replace green shrubs with those that flower or have colorful leaves. Add a series of colored containers or brick or stone planters for flowers or dwarf shrubs with yellow or purple leaves. Such ideas take the visual emphasis off the windows without the risks of painting them. You can also drive around the neighborhood and look for ideas on how to improve your home's look.

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