Painting Bay Area buildings that already have siding is one way to rejuvenate the look of the structure, and to add further protection against time and the elements. Technically, siding means whatever is on the side of the house including brick cladding or stucco. Generally speaking, however, when people mention siding they are talking about one of five different types of siding that come in sections and are attached to a house after the structure is complete. These types of siding can even be added years after a building is finished for a complete change of character for the building.
The easy answer to the question about type of paint is yes, of course the type of paint that you use for any project matters. The more complete answer requires some thought and consideration of all the factors involved, including the type, age, and condition of the siding, the local climate, and naturally the budget.
Putting aside for the moment things like brick, stucco and other things that cling to the actual structure, there are a few basic types of siding in common use. They are wood, two engineered types of wood (T-111 and Masonite), vinyl, metal (aluminum and steel), and fiber-cement (also known as hardie board). Some types of siding, like vinyl and fiber cement are not as likely to need to be painted because they hold their color but do eventually need to be updated for the sake of maintenance or style. Each of these types of siding has positives and negatives, as well as painting needs, but all of them can be painted.
The biggest difference in painting these different types of siding is not actually the choice of paint, but in how you prepare the surface before you paint. All siding needs to be clean, free of rust or other oxidation, dry, and in good repair. Trying to paint over problems will only cause worse problems in the long run. Any repairs you did (such as caulking) need to have been done with paintable materials and must be completely dried or cured.
Good choices for painting in the Bay Area are either acrylic or elastomeric paint. Both are great for wood, metal, and fiber-cement siding, hold up well, and are not difficult to apply if the proper preparations have been made. Using a primer that matches your paint type is always recommended. Both wood siding and T-111 can be either painted or stained. If your wood or wood product siding has been previously painted or stained, it is best to find out what type (water or solvent based) of paint or stain was used previously and use that type again. Because of the porous nature of T-111, staining is the best option. T-111 can be painted if the back-rolling method is used to make sure all the nooks and crannies are filled.
Masonite can be painted just as you would paint any wooden surface, but the manufacturer recommends a good quality oil based primer and paint.
Painting metal siding (either steel or aluminum) is also much like painting wood. It is key that when you clean the siding you remove all rust or oxidation as well as dirt. This may require that you scrub with a wire brush. Use a high quality primer designed for the metal you are painting (steel or aluminum), and top with two coats of acrylic paint.
If you chose to paint vinyl siding instead of having the color chemically restored then you will want to be sure to use paint that is safe for vinyl. Use primer, even if your siding doesn’t seem to need it. It is not always absolutely necessary, but priming and using a high quality paint will always give you the best outcome.
For painting fiber-cement board that has never been painted, it is important that you use one of the primers sold by the cement board manufacturer. If it is already primed or you are re-painting, most manufactures recommend 100% acrylic exterior paint.
Along with the type of siding, you must take into consideration your local weather, which tends to be cool and wet and is very hard on paint. This means you should use the best paint you can fit into your budget. The final answer is that yes, it does matter what type of paint you use when painting Bay Area homes and businesses.