Ask the Remodeler: Should you paint vinyl siding?

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Q. I have a 35-year-old house with vinyl siding. It’s the original builder’s grade. On the south and east sides of the house, the siding has faded terribly. We can see major black streaks from street level. Can this siding be painted, and if so, what preparation is needed and what paint and primer should we use?


A. I am afraid that you cannot paint vinyl siding, as there is too much seasonal expansion and contraction with it to hold even an acrylic latex paint. I would suggest a professional power-washing with detergents in the mix, which could help with the streaking and blend the colors together a bit.


Q. I have a 3,500-square-foot custom Cape. What temperature should my attic be? It gets to about 120 degrees when the temperature outside is about 90 plus. (I have both a simple thermometer in the attic, as well as an electronic one I can monitor in the house). The house is about 30 years old and I re-roofed two years ago. It seems that my attic is much warmer in the summer now than it was before I reroofed. There are ridge vents across the top of the ridge; they were replaced when the roof was redone. I believe there is less air going through the vents now. There are soffit vents all around, and they appear to be clean. Should I be concerned about the temperature in the attic, and, if so, what can I do about it?

B.H., Hanover

A. Those kind of temperatures are not particularly good for the life of the shingles. I am going to guess that the new ice and water shield and high-quality roofing underlayments that are used today are trapping more heat in the attic than before, even with the ridge vents. I don’t recommend adding more venting in the gable walls, as that will interrupt the flow through the ridge vents.


The best option I can suggest will also help you keep in the heat this winter: closed-cell icynene insulation sprayed into the rafter bays and on the gable ends, effectively making the attic a controlled space and inside the thermal envelope. This will drop the temperatures up there dramatically and add years to the life of the shingles. If you have or are considering air conditioning or any kind of mechanicals in the attic, closed-cell insulation is highly recommended.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions are subject to editing. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Boston.com/realestate and follow Address on Twitter @globehomes.


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