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This just in from the Paint Quality Institute: you can paint "maintenance-free" building materials.

The same people who gave us a paint primer on using colors to manipulate moods and insight on slathering on acrylics to add action to seasonal decor ( Home Floors Carpets Carpeting Hardwood Tile Wood Floors Stairs Handrail Steps ) also offers tips for painting materials that could do just fine without an extra coat.

Why?

Why not?

Perhaps blue has your bored, yellow isn't so sunny after all or white is just too, well, white.

Whether it's to spruce up the appearance or provide an extra layer of protection against a forecast for stormy weather you can paint vinyl siding, composite decking, fiberglass trim, factory-finished aluminum and other materials designed to hold up with little more than regular cleaning.

"Most of the time, you can paint these materials," says Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute.

"But it's important that you follow the right procedures when doing so," Zimmer added.

Just as you would prepare for any paint job, the first step is to make any necessary repairs.

Then, scrub clean and fully rinse the surface before applying any coating, says Zimmer.

You must also remove any mold or mildew with a water/bleach solution that's three parts water to one part bleach and, again, thoroughly rinse the surface with lots of water.

One more step before painting - apply a fresh top coat of quality acrylic latex primer-- especially on maintenance-free materials. A primer will give the paint a better grip on the surface and the final job will have more uniform color and greater sheen.

The paint should be a quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint for virtually any type of exterior painting. That's especially true when painting maintenance free surfaces. Maintenance-free materials typically are very smooth and slick.

"Top quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint produces a very durable paint film, and it has very consistent color and gloss," says Zimmer.

"By applying this type of paint, the surface will look great, and it will stay that way for years to come," she added.

The tools you use to prime and paint are just as important as the primer and paint. Use quality brushes and rollers to slather on thicker, more protective layers of the coatings and get the best possible appearance from the paint job.

Avoid doing the work on days that are too hot, cold, humid or windy. Chose moderate weather. Climatic extremes can have an adverse effect on paint as it dries and cures and compromise the integrity of the finished job.

Paint cans typically come with temperature guidelines to help you choose the best day to get to work.

The Paint Quality Institute offers a host of detailed, step-by-step painting times for work on interior or exterior surfaces.

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