How to Paint an Aluminum Storage Shed

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Prefabricated aluminum storage sheds are common in backyards throughout the country. Aluminum storage sheds come from the factory finished in various colors, but over time the factory finish can fade, oxidize and peel. You can paint aluminum siding, but without removing the oxidized paint and using the right primer, the paint will start peeling within a year. The type, sheen and even color of paint you choose can affect how long the paint job lasts.

Things You'll Need

  • Power washer
  • Scrub brush
  • Hose
  • Bleach or detergent with mildewcide
  • Scraper or wire brush
  • Paintable silicone caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Automotive body filler
  • Oil-based primer
  • Mineral spirits
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paint
  • Rollers
  • Airless sprayer
  • Ladders
  • Drop cloths
  • Run your hand over a sunny surface of the shed. If any chalky residue comes off, the shed must be power-washed or scrubbed free of chalk.

  • Use a power washer or scrub brush to remove chalk and dirt. If there's mildew, wash the shed with a detergent containing mildewcide. Scrape loose or flaking paint, then rinse the shed until the water runs clear. Let it dry completely.

  • Thin exterior oil-based primer with about 1 pint of mineral spirits per gallon (a single gallon of primer should be sufficient for an average storage shed). Protect the ground around the base of the shed and apply the primer with a roller and brush. Let it dry per label directions.

  • Caulk holes and seams with a good grade of exterior paintable silicone caulking. If you wish, you can use automotive body filler to repair dents and large gouges. Caulking does not need to be primed before painting, but repaired dents should be primed again with the oil primer.

  • Paint the shed with two coats of 100 percent acrylic (water-based) exterior paint. Avoid painting in very hot sunlight, or if it's extremely humid or threatening to rain.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's fine to use oil-based primer under latex or acrylic paint and often recommended for painting metal. Use a flat or satin paint for your shed unless it's in excellent shape and you want it very shiny. Higher gloss paints will accentuate every little dent and imperfection on the shed's surface. Painting a shed to match the color of your house looks cute but will draw attention to it. To minimize the appearance of a shed, user a neutral color like dark beige.
  • Avoid using very dark colors on aluminum, especially if you live in a sunny climate. The metal can get extremely hot, causing premature paint failure as well as raising the temperatures inside the shed to stifling levels. Don't use regular spackle to fill dents and holes in aluminum. It will crack and fall out within months, because it's not flexible enough to withstand the expansion and contraction of metal.

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