When considering home renovations, new windows ranks as one of the most costly upgrades. Because of the cost, the idea of replacing them might be-out the window-but an experienced DIY-er might wonder, can vinyl windows be painted?
Ultimately, yes. Vinyl windows can be painted. However, window manufacturers will say that you can’t paint them or that you shouldn’t, and they have a point. There are some very serious factors to consider before touching your vinyl windows with paint, or all that money you’re saving by painting instead of replacing might be wasted in the end.
Considerations Before Painting Vinyl Windows
There are two main factors for consideration before painting your vinyl windows. Making the wrong decision could be a significant financial risk. And a large financial investment for repairs/renovations is what you wanted to avoid by painting your windows rather than replacing them.
Voiding Your Warranty
Because achieving a successful vinyl window paint job is so tricky, and paint can do severe damage to vinyl windows, painting vinyl windows voids many manufacturer warranties.
Check your warranty thoroughly before beginning any paint projects to see if there are restrictions on painting. There may be rules dictating what colors you’re allowed to paint your windows or whether you’re allowed to paint them at all.
Some manufacturers go as far as requiring you to submit a paint sample for them to review before you may begin your project with their blessing. If they disapprove of the color you’ve selected and you move forward with your project anyway, you will be actively voiding your warranty.
Choosing the Wrong Color
One of the main reasons painting vinyl windows can void your warranty is that painting them a color that’s too dark can cause the window frames to retain heat. This extra heat will cause them to warp faster over time and may cause the glass to break.
Your manufacturer warranty will not cover this damage, and you’ll be responsible for the full cost of replacing all broken windows.
A lighter color in the white, eggshell, beige, and almond family is much safer for your vinyl window frames. These colors will not cause them to retain any excess heat and cause them thermal damage over time.
Successfully Painting Vinyl Windows
Achieving a successful vinyl window paint job is based on two things: selecting the right paint products and painting with patience and care. If either of these elements is incomplete or missing, you can expect paint peeling and flaking.
Paint does not like to stick to vinyl, so it’s important to use the right products and apply them carefully for professional results.
Prepping Vinyl Windows
To prep your windows, you’ll want to wash them thoroughly. You don’t want to paint over dirt under any circumstances. That will surely cause your fresh coat of paint to flake and peel. Scrub your windows and make sure they are clean.
An optional step is to sand your windows with a fine-grit paper. Roughing up the surface of the window frames can encourage the primer to bond to the vinyl. Take care if you decide to do this, and do not damage your windows in attempts to sand them.
The last part of prepping is to tape off your windows using painter’s tape and plastic as needed. You’ll also want to put down a drop cloth to catch any drips.
Priming Vinyl Windows for Paint
It’s important to use a primer because that will increase the odds of the paint sticking to the vinyl. Paint doesn’t like to stick to vinyl, so it needs all the help it can get.
When selecting a primer, it’s vital to choose a primer explicitly made to bond to vinyl. Other primers can damage vinyl window frames as they soften vinyl. A vinyl primer like an alkyd-based primer is a good choice.
Apply the primer in thin, even layers. Apply as many layers as your specific primer product suggests, as all primers have different formulations. Allow the primer to dry longer than necessary between layers.
How Do You Paint Vinyl Windows?
Selecting the Right Paint
When choosing paint, you’ll want to select a high-quality latex urethane exterior paint that is vinyl-safe. Paint is not a place where you’ll want to skimp and save money on this project. For the safety of your windows, it’s important to use the best paint that you possibly can.
Remember color here. Dark colors are damaging for vinyl windows. Chestnut brown looks really nice, but you won’t be as pleased with it in several years when it’s warped, and your windows have cracked. Choose something in the lighter family to be safe for your windows long-term.
Paintbrush vs. Paint Sprayer
Choosing whether to use a paintbrush or a paint sprayer can be a complicated decision. Paintbrushes are incredibly affordable, but painting with them takes a lot more time.
On the other hand, electric paint sprayers can complete the job very quickly, but there’s a big learning curve, and they’re expensive.
In the end, you should pick what you feel most comfortable with because you’ll complete the job more quickly with what you feel comfortable using.
When you’re painting, it’s important to apply the paint in very thin layers and allow it to dry completely before moving on to beginning the next layer. Ideally, you’ll want to paint several layers and leave them to dry in between in excess of the time the paint says it needs to dry.
Eventually, you’ll want to replace your windows, but while you’re saving up, you can absolutely paint vinyl windows.
However, you’ll want to consider the potential damage you could cause to your windows by selecting the wrong color paint or doing a shoddy paint job. And you should take into consideration whether or not painting your windows will void your manufacturer’s warranty.