Homeowners with vinyl gutters don’t often have this concern. Vinyl gutters come pre-painted, selected to match/complement the tone of their home exterior. If the time does come to re-paint them (after UV exposure has taken its toll), doing so is relatively easy. Aluminum gutters are a bit different.
This biggest difference however, is getting over the misconception that painting aluminum gutters is too taxing to be a do-it-yourself (DIY) task. While there is somewhat more thought, preparation, and effort required it can be accomplished by any homeowner with the slightest hint of talent for exterior painting. All it takes is the right guidance and your old aluminum gutters can be transformed to look as good as new, immediately enhancing the curb-appeal of your home.
5 Steps to Painting the Aluminum Gutters on Your Home
1. Determine Whether or Not You Need to Remove Gutters to Paint Them
Before doing anything, you need to make a decision about the potential removal of your gutter system. For starters, if you are painting the entire system removal may simply not be practical. Sure you’ll do a better job, painting in great detail over every nook and cranny, but remember that your gutters hang far above the ground level of your home. Will anyone notice a small patch on the undercarriage that didn’t receive a full brushing of that second coat? Of course, when it comes to the downspouts it makes more sense as they run down the side of your home and make a big impact on the aesthetics. The same goes if you are painting one or two sections (a few feet for each) of the gutter system, to correct the visual impact of prior damage to one (or two) areas in order to make the respective sections match the rest. There are also those of you with a moderate to excessive fear of heights who cringe at the thought of spending all of that time up there painting an entire gutter system. In this scenario it again makes sense to remove section by section and paint them on the safety of your grounds. Otherwise, you can perform a more than satisfactory DIY rain gutter paint job while leaving them where they are on the roof of your home.
2. Clean Your Gutters Thoroughly
Now comes the fun part. You need to clean your gutters better than ever before. While many gutter specialists may tell you that pressure washing before painting will do the trick, doing so alone simply moves around some of the grime, leaving a residue that can go unnoticed. You end up painting over this residue which will ultimately cause your uneven paint job to bubble and peel after the next bout of severe weather (excessive rain or heat). Instead (or in addition to) fill a bucket of warm water, add a healthy dose of liquid dish detergent, throw in a large sponge, and bring along a bristled scrubbing brush. Proceed to scrub your gutters in a circular motion, wiping away the loosened dirt and debris at it builds up in the foam. Once clean, inspect your gutters for protruding nicks and scratches that could cause your paintbrush to catch and leave a streaky appearance. Sand these spots down with an aluminum oxide or silicon carbide sandpaper. Once your gutters are clean and smooth you can prep them for painting.
3. Apply an Appropriate Primer
Not all home exterior painting primers are created equal. When it comes to aluminum rain gutters you absolutely need to select a clear acrylic bonding primer. This primer will penetrate the entire surface of your gutters, ensuring comprehensive coverage. You can find an example of clear acrylic bonding primer here at HomeDepot, including eco-friendly options available at any major hardware retailer (Canadian Tire, Lowe’s, etc.). Allow at least two hours to pass after cleaning (assuming a sunny day) and proceed to coat your gutters with the primer.
4. Apply an Oil Based Enamel
Within 48 hours of the primer you will want to apply an oil-based high-gloss enamel to your gutters. This is important in order to maintain a surface conducive to fast rainwater flow. Once the first coat of enamel has dried, apply a second for good measure.
5. Apply an Aluminum Appropriate Paint (with Weather Protecting) Properties
Once the enamel has dried (“two sunny day hours” should do) you are ready to paint. Your paint should be an equal match to your primer and enamel so be sure to check with your hardware store rep when picking up your can/s. Choose a high-quality 100% acrylic paint (without ammonia which reacts w/aluminum) for optimal results. If you can find one with UV-protectant even better (although aluminum has a low risk of damage from UV rays). Reputable brands such as Benjamin Moore of Behr will have a solution for you. Your next decision is in regards to whether or not you should use a sprayer, or simply opt for the brushing method. Your choice will be based upon personal preference. While spray painting may seem like an easier task, you will need to guard your home exterior from excess spray when leaving the gutters attached to the roof, which will involve a lot of tape, tarp, and cardboard. If you are removing the gutters for painting, spraying is certainly a quick, easy, and viable option. Otherwise it simply depends on which method feels more labor intensive to you. Both can achieve optimal visual and functional results, when done right. We should conclude with a few words of advice before you actually paint your gutters – check the weather forecast. Pick a week that has a little to zero % chance of precipitation or extreme temperatures in either direction.
If in the end you decide that painting your old aluminum rain gutters is too cumbersome a task, or after cleaning them you discovered that there is more damage than anticipated, it may be time to invest in a new gutter system. If you reside within the Greater Vancouver area WeatherGuard Gutters has functionally superior and aesthetically pleasing premium metal rain gutters perfectly suited to your home. Contact us today for an estimate.