Expert Answers: Paint Vinyl Window Cladding

Want to know how to paint your new vinyl window cladding to match the rest of your home's trim? HANDY has the answer.

Q: I just installed vinyl-clad windows in a room addition. I’d love to paint the white vinyl cladding to match the rest of the house trim. Do I need to use special paint or techniques? - Jim McDonald, Durham, NC

A: You can successfully paint vinyl trim and siding provided you follow a few guidelines, according to experts at the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute ( First, don’t paint light-toned vinyl a dark color. Dark colors can absorb enough additional heat to cause the vinyl to warp or sag, particularly if it is exposed to direct sunlight. This is more of a problem with vinyl siding than vinyl window or door trim. Still, it’s a good idea to avoid dark colors on trim.

For the paint to bond well with the vinyl, follow these steps:

  1. Wash and rinse the surface.
  2. Lightly scuff-sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper to create “tooth” for the paint.
  3. Wipe again with a damp rag.
  4. Paint the surface with latex exterior primer. Let the primer dry overnight.
  5. Apply two coats of paint. The Paint Quality Institute recommends a top-of-the-line 100 percent acrylic exterior latex house and trim paint in a satin finish. Let the first coat dry overnight.