Sunday, November 24, 2013

Painting our Aluminum Siding

We live in upstate New York. It's the end of November. A few weeks ago we decided to paint the exterior of our house and garage. Also known as our race against time and Jack Frost.

It all started over a month ago when we decided to paint JUST our foundation and exterior doors from burgundy to slate gray.

Here are some pictures of what we started with.

Then it changed to this:

I decided our front door needed to be a different color. So I turned to the best place to get advice: facebook. I slapped some different colors on the front door with Microsoft Paint, and showed all my facebook pals.

Some of the things I read were,

"No, just no. Not with that siding."

"We can help you paint your siding."

"I don't think anything would 'go' with that siding."

"That siding is sad."

I never mentioned anything about the siding.

This is why I love social media. You get everyone's real thoughts. I truly appreciate this because apparently I was suffering under a blind spot about the siding.

Deep down, I knew it was Dijon mustard yellow but had convinced myself it was tan. Or beige. Some sort of neutral which would work with anything.

It's because there were so many other projects to do that we felt replacing or painting the siding would have to wait a long time..

But once I took off the siding blinders, I decided that changing ugly, gross siding is more of a top of the list thing.

Here's the catch: you can't paint siding if it's below 40 degrees. I don't know why. All the websites say this. Something awful will happen.

I knew that if we didn't do it now, we'd be living with it until this part of the planet thaws out, roughly five months from now. So about two weeks ago, I walked up to Greg, and this is how the conversation went:






"Oh no. Just say it."

"Well ... there's something that's going to bother me a little all winter."

"I'm not painting the house." (This is not a lie; he guessed it. I literally have no idea how.)

"But babe! We could just bust it out like our other projects."

"Allie, I don't think you know what's involved in this."

"I know, but our house is one story and not even 1200 square feet. This will be easy, I promise. Please???? Jus think about how much better it's going to look!"

*Sigh* ... "What color are you thinking?"

Ok, so it took a little more convincing, but that gives you a general idea of his reaction.

First it took forever to decide on a color. We wanted something between beige and gray and got a hundred swatches. The reason we chose this is because we wanted light, bright and neutral, but not white; you can't power wash paint. As I told Greg, we needed to paint our house, "dinge."

You know how each swatch has three shades of the same color? Well, if you're painting an exterior, DO NOT go with the lightest one.

I wanted to, and luckily Greg talked me into the medium one. He was right because the sun washes out color, and my choice would have looked straight up white.

It took us two weeks. Greg painted the top half on a ladder during his time off, and I painted the bottom half during Darby's naps. (I was secretly scared he would fall and die and I would be guilty forever.)

Update: I should add that prior to starting, I contacted my uncle, a professional painter, to determine whether painting aluminum siding was possible. He said yes!

The day I asked Greg to paint the house was daylight savings, which in upstate New York means that dusk is now 4:30pm. This was unfortunate. There were a few days one of us was painting in the dark because the temperature was high enough. We painted according to temperature, not light.

We painted by our exterior lights in the dark, which usually worked fine, but sometimes we had to touch up spots in the daylight.

You can imagine the strange looks we received from passerby, which I guess I understand. If I passed a house and saw people painting their siding in the dark when it was cold out, I would probably stare too.

One night Greg asked if my parents knew about our project. I said no.

"Why?" he wondered.

"Because. I'm not telling my mom until we're finished. She'll be mad at me for making you do this, I just know it."

"That's not true."

"Yes it is. I'm hiding it from everyone in my family. They will all feel bad for you because they like you better."

"Yeah, that's true."

Here's a reason I love Greg: he always gets into things even if he began reluctantly. He ended up loving it and is glad we did it! (now that it's over)

You know the interesting part? We finally finished the very last bit on Friday, Nov. 22. The next day we got our first snowfall. Just in the nick of time.

So, drumroll ... here's the end result:


Now, that roof is about to collapse, and is going to be replaced with a black roof this spring (as cheap and do-it-yourself-y as possible.) The old white wood stove chimney is also heading for its demise, but other than that, I'm super happy with our exterior.

We took the shutters off and have no plans to replace them because we like the way this looks.

And of course I'm still undecided on the front door, vacillating between yellow, red or keeping it like this. (So tell me what you think about that in the comments.)

Greg continues to warn me that if I don't decide soon, I will have to wait till spring to paint the door. I just laugh and shake my head. Does he not know me yet?

I'm really glad it doesn't look like this anymore:

Yesterday I told my mom that I love not seeing mustard yellow every time I look at our house.

She said,

"Awww, Allie. You know ... it was really more like baby diarrhea." 


  1. Oh my word! SOO much better! I think you should have fun with the front door. I think before, you had to us neutrals so you wouldn't clash with the siding, but now that the siding is a blank canvas I think you should have fun with it! Pantone releases a color of the year (which predicts what we'll see in fashion, paint, and decor trends). I don't know if this year's color has been released (last year was Emerald) but they have this report on color trends for Spring.

    1. I thought I replied to this, but I guess it didn't go through! Anyway, I'm debating between painting it bright red now, or waiting till the roof is black so there's not so many colors going on...

  2. Your mom is hysterical!

    This looks SO much better. SO much. Definitely have some fun with that front door now! Does it have a storm door on it? If it does, and it gets direct sunlight during the day, you could probably paint it even on a cold-ish day, since it would be in the warm house while it is drying. I recall that I took our front door off its hinges so that I could spray paint it in our garage in November.

    Why is it that we always think of siding projects as low on the list? At our old house, half the square footage of the house was additions. One addition was the master bedroom over the garage (and the garage was an addition too), and when it was done, the previous owners didn't "blend" the siding well--there was pretty much a line going down the front of the house. We lived there for 5 years hating that line, but thinking "some day we are going to replace all of the siding, we'll fix it then." Replacing the siding never came before we decided to sell the house. Then we had an offer on the house fall through, and one of the reasons sited was the line. Which motivated us to look around and find matching siding to fix it (I think it was 10" panels--it was the old stuff!), which turned out to cost less than $100. We repainted the faded country blue shutters to black at the same time, which made a HUGE improvement to the curb appeal.

    1. Yeah, it's funny how we can overlook things in our homes!

  3. WOW!!!!! It looks great!!!!
    Now listen...we do not love Greg more! I just don't want you to wear him out!!! Cause he's a keeper! :) Must be a daughter thing...I used to say the same thing to Bob about my parents loving him Anyway...100% improvement! mom

    1. we actually do love him more.... im not telling you who this is....

    2. No Karen. It's true. Mom and Dad love Bob more. They told me. :)

  4. Wow! Looks great. When you first contacted me I thought this was a spring project. I really like how the foundation color and front door match. My two cents ... once the new roof in black goes on (consider the extra few buck per bundle for architectual shingles) ... I would bring the shutters back ... paint them black and put flower boxes under those two windows.

  5. I love the new siding color choice you made! I do have to agree with your Facebook pals and say that the siding was just awful. It DID look like mustard, didn't it? Now, it looks a lot better and it can go with any color. So what are you planning for the door?

    Latoya Quinn

    1. Thanks! And I think I'm going to go with red, but I actually am waiting til spring! For once I decided to live with something until I made up my mind completely. When the roof is black, instead of reddish-brown, I think a bright red door will really pop. And it's just classic.

  6. Wow, that is just like our house in upstate NY! (It's not, though.) However, we lived with that ugly color for 8 years and just left. My thoughts were to focus on the inside, but you look you have that covered! I love the blue door with the painted bottom, but maybe a wine red will be better with a black roof. Looks really good and bravo to you for painting in this weather!

  7. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, painting with airless spray gun will be faster and more interesting!