to equip: Purchase a non-abrasive detergent or create your own cleaning solution to remove soot and dirt by mixing 1/3 cup laundry detergent (such as Tide) and 2/3 cup household cleaning powder (such as Spic & Span) with one gallon of water. If mold and mildew are present, add a quart of liquid laundry bleach to your solution.

Cleaning: Use a car wash brush (or any soft-bristled brush) to clean your sides. This type of brush has a handle that attaches to the end of the hose. Start at the bottom of your house and work your way up to avoid streaks. This step will reveal any discoloration or damage that may have been hidden by accumulated debris.

rinse: After removing any dirt, rinse your siding with clean water. Make sure to point the hose downwards to avoid water accumulating behind your sides. Let it dry completely.

Tip: Make sure to use a non-abrasive cleanser and do this on a sunny day. Abrasive cleaners or hard brushes will damage the finish of your siding and can make it appear stained. You can use a pressure washer, but keep in mind that pressure washing your siding on a strong setting may damage them.

Fix, fix, fix

Look for areas of damage and try to replace individual parts of the siding.
Photo: Douglas Sasha/Getty Images

I fix: Once your siding is clean and dry, you’ll be able to evaluate any repairs that need to be made. If you have a particularly rough section of old siding, you can usually remove it and replace it with similar 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 on your existing siding – it may contain some information about getting repairs covered by the manufacturer, if it’s within the appropriate time frame.

Surface preparation

Final cleaning: Clean up any stains or other discoloration you discover after repairs (see above).

Deciding on a primer: Find out if you need a primer. The best way to make this decision is to follow the paint manufacturer’s recommendation. Most manufacturers will recommend applying a primer, because it will help the paint finish look even and help the paint adhere if your vinyl is perforated or porous.

Choose your paint: Paint technology has evolved leaps and bounds over the past years, but all professionals still agree to avoid dark vinyl paint colors for your new color choice. It’s important to choose the right paint for your personal aesthetic because you’ll likely have it for many years to come, but dark colors trap heat and in the hotter months can damage the underlying siding, leaving it vulnerable to warping.

You can start your new color journey at the stores of major paint companies like Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore. Benjamin Moore points out that all of their exterior house paints are safe for vinyl.

Miceticich encourages you to double-check your paint choice. “You’ll need to choose a specific type of paint that won’t crack when the material expands and contracts at different temperatures,” she says. The paint should be a latex urethane for outdoor use. She also recommends choosing the same color or a lighter color than your current color for your new choice and avoiding dark colors.

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