Can You Paint Vinyl Windows?

Yes, you can paint vinyl windows. But no, we don't recommend it. Here's why.

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Can You Paint Vinyl Windows?

Most often, homeowners purchase vinyl windows in the color they like, avoiding the need for paint. Situations may arise where you’d want to paint them. So, can you? The answer isn’t simple. Yes, you can, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Also, find out if you can paint vinyl siding.

Here, we’ll outline what it takes to paint vinyl windows, the risks involved and how to do it right if you take this on.

Risks Of Painting Vinyl Windows

First, let’s talk about the risks. You can’t simply paint over a vinyl window. Paint won’t adhere well to a vinyl window. Aside from looking messy, over time it will chip, flake and crack, creating an obviously unsightly look.

To properly paint them, you’ll need to apply some sort of primer to the vinyl. This creates other issues, since many primers contain chemicals that react with the vinyl in the window and harm its structural integrity. It would also likely void any manufacturer’s warranty.

The color you choose could have negative implications to the window as well. Dark colors will absorb more light, making them hotter. This could cause the window to warp and potentially crack the glass.

Tips for Successful Painting

If we haven’t convinced you not to do it, you can minimize your risk with some simple steps. You must use primer for the paint to adhere.

Make sure it’s a suitable primer for use on vinyl. We recommend an alkyd-based primer. A good bonding primer can also help you achieve the adhesion necessary to paint vinyl windows. You can also get a good spray can version of bonding primer.

After you’ve primed the windows according to manufacturer specifications, it’s time to paint. Don’t skimp on paint quality here. You want a high-quality paint that will last.

Some manufacturers make vinyl-safe paint. Sherwin-Williams offers the aptly named VinylSafe paint colors, and Benjamin Moore makes a Colors for Vinyl palette. There are products that claim priming isn’t necessary, but we’d still recommend it.

How to Paint Vinyl Windows in Four Steps

  1. Thoroughly wash the vinyl. Make sure it’s as clean as possible.
  2. Sand the vinyl. Though you’re using a primer, lightly sand the vinyl with a medium grit sanding sponge. Just make sure you don’t accidentally sand the glass!
  3. Prime it. Apply the primer with a brush, roller or spray — whatever method is easiest for you. We’d recommend a small foam roller. Make sure to tape off the glass and any other areas you don’t want to paint.
  4. Paint it. As with the primer, painting vinyl windows may be a challenge. Use a small enough brush or roller to do the job. You can also tape off everything and use a spray paint. Just make sure to keep the can moving and far enough away so you don’t get drips.

If you’d rather not risk it and can afford new windows, vinyl window companies manufacture windows in a myriad of colors to complement any home.

Shay Tilander
Shay Tilander is a senior editor at Family Handyman. When he's not enjoying family time with his wife and three boys, he loves tinkering with projects and geeking out on electronics.