Things You'll Need
80- to 120-grit sandpaper and sanding block
Heavy-duty latex gloves
Painting vinyl porch posts can give a lift to the appearance of your home, but if it's not done right, you could end up with warped or peeling posts, necessitating a complete do-over or even replacement. Prepping the vinyl porch posts before painting is crucial, but choosing the correct kind and even the correct color of paint can be just as important.
Wash the vinyl porch posts thoroughly with a solution of dishwashing detergent and water. First hose them down to remove dust and cobwebs. Then with a bucket full of water mixed with dishwashing detergent, go to work with the hand brush. Vigorously brush the vinyl porch posts. Start at the top and work your way down. After you've brushed the heavy dirt off, rinse; then with a fresh bucket of soapy water, wash them again with the sponge. Rinse each post when you finish brushing it.
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Put on your splash goggles and heavy-duty latex gloves and mix a bleach solution with four parts water to one part bleach. Apply this solution to every square inch of the vinyl porch posts you'll paint. It kills mildew and helps to remove or bleach out mildew stains. Let it dry.
Use 80- to 120-grit sandpaper to sand the vinyl porch posts. Your goal is not to remove all the paint. You only need to remove the lose bits and rough up the rest of the vinyl.
Wash the posts one more time with soapy water. Rinse and let them dry thoroughly.
Choose a color of latex paint that is not darker than the original color of the vinyl porch posts. A darker color can cause less of the sun's heat to be reflected on hot days, which may lead to warping.
Use painter's tape to mask off parts of the porch, house and eaves that could be accidentally painted when you paint the vinyl porch posts.
Use the 4-inch brush to apply the paint. Start at the top of a post and work your way down. Apply enough to cover the surface of the vinyl porch posts, but don't apply so much that the paint runs. Allow it to dry thoroughly. When finished, rinse your brush thoroughly with water.
Apply another thin coat of paint when the first coat has thoroughly dried.
Remove the painter's tape, being careful not to damage the newly applied latex paint.
First try to clean and buff the vinyl porch posts. You might be able to avoid painting them. According to Morris Carey in "Home Maintenance for Dummies," vinyl doesn't accept paint nearly as well as wood and other common surfaces.
Don't use primer. It's not necessary with vinyl and will only take more time. Solvents in the primer can also damage the vinyl, making it impossible to give it a durable coat of pain.
Use latex paint. It doesn't have solvents or oils that can damage some types of vinyl.
Choose paint designed for exteriors, not interiors.
Don't skimp on the washing and prep; it's crucial to get a good-looking, durable coat of paint.
Use painter's tape, not masking tape. Painter's tape is easier to apply and easier to remove.
Don't waste money on high-priced brushes.
Use brushes, not rollers, for porch posts. You'll avoid messy runs at the corners.
Bleach and its fumes are dangerous. It can burn your eyes, nose or lungs even if it is not spilled. Use it only outside. Don't use it inside an enclosed area.
Always wear splash goggles when working with bleach or paint.
Always use heavy-duty gloves when working with bleach.