Vinyl window frames have been popular for years because of their attributes. For one, they’re low-maintenance and don’t warp or corrode. For another, the color is infused throughout the frame, so even scratches and dings are not noticeable. They do resist fading, but they can look a little dull after several years. And so some homeowners wonder if you can paint vinyl frames.
The short answer to that question is you cannot. However, the better answer is the project is possible but tricky.
The Difficulty of Painting Vinyl Frames
Vinyl presents a shiny, mostly impenetrable surface. Vinyl’s construction is part of the reason it’s so durable. However, the non-permeable nature of the surface means the paint can’t sink in. The paint job may look fine at first, but it will quickly start to peel and flake.
Additionally, standard paint won’t work at all on the vinyl surface. You’ll have to purchase paint that’s safe for vinyl. Typically, you also have to prime the surface before you paint.
Another issue with vinyl is that it’s susceptible to the heat, which can warp the material. Under normal circumstances, your frames are unlikely to get hot enough to warp. However, if you paint the frames a dark color, it can absorb heat from the sun. The result can be a warped frame and even cracked window glass.
Method of Painting Your Vinyl Frames
If you decide to proceed with the paint job, you should start by assembling the necessary materials:
- Drop cloths
- Degreasing cleanser
- Masking tape
- Paint sprayer or paintbrush
You’ll start by placing the drop cloths under the work area. Next, mix your degreasing cleanser together with water. You can then either sponge it onto the vinyl surface or use a pump-action garden sprayer if you have one. Once you’ve scrubbed the surface, rinse the soap off.
Your next step is to roughen up the surface of the frames with sandpaper, preferably 220-grit. The goal is to provide a better surface for the paint to adhere to. Use a rag or tack cloth to remove the dust.
At this point, recommendations diverge. You can do the job more quickly if you use a paint sprayer. If you choose to go that route, you’ll need to mask the window glass with plastic and masking tape to protect it during the spraying process. Once you have the glass masked, apply the primer. After it’s dried, spray the windows with the desired paint.
If you choose to use a paintbrush instead of a paint sprayer, you probably don’t need to mask the entire window. Instead, protect the glass by applying masking or painter’s tape where it meets the vinyl window frame. You’ll still prime, but then you’ll use your paintbrush to apply the paint.
Alternatives to Painting Vinyl Frames
Besides the difficulty factor, homeowners have another reason to eschew painting their vinyl window frames — it can void the warranty. Window warranties vary, but they’ll usually cover the frame and glass. If you paint the frames, though, the manufacturer might deny a warranty claim even if the paint job had nothing to do with the issue.
So, if you shouldn’t paint your vinyl frames, what should you do? One option is to clean them thoroughly so they look fresh again. To do so, you’ll want to mix a solution of either vinegar or lemon juice and water. Spray the solution onto the frames, and let it set for several minutes. Use a soft scrub brush to clean the frame before wiping the solution away with a soft cloth.
Your other option is to replace your windows. Window replacement can enhance your house’s entire façade. You can even opt for vinyl windows again if you like the advantages they come with. Just consider choosing a neutral color you’re likely to appreciate for a long time.
Before you commit to painting your vinyl window frames, ask yourself if you wouldn’t be happier with new windows altogether. If you are ready for replacement windows, contact Amenity Roofing, Siding & Gutters LLC.