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Can Vinyl Patio Doors Be Painted?

Vinyl patio doors can start to look a little tired with age (can’t we all), so at some stage you may want to paint them rather than replacing them.

Vinyl doors can be painted, either with 100% acrylic paint or an acrylic resin and urethane blend. Depending what paint you’ve used, you can then use a clear acrylic sealant to protect it and make your colors more vibrant. But steer clear of oil-based paints and latex formulations that can crack.

Let’s look at this process in greater detail with a step-by-step walk-through, and also consider how long your paint job will last once it’s completed.

What Kind of Paint Will Stick To Vinyl? (Can You Paint a Vinyl Door or Window?)

If you decide to give your vinyl doors a refresh or a new color scheme, you’ll need to use the right kind of paint. Most conventional coatings won’t adhere to vinyl’s shiny finish, as most paint formulations simply aren’t designed to cover smooth plastics.

There are two types of vinyl-friendly paint to look out for: 100% acrylic paint, or an acrylic resin and urethane blend. You’ll also need to make sure that it’s an exterior paint if it’s for your patio doors. Some formulations include a primer or even a primer and sealant, which cut down on the stages of painting your door.

Stay well clear of oil-based paints and latex formulations: they will almost certainly crack and chip. These paints aren’t flexible enough to use on a vinyl door.

Don’t cut corners by using an interior paint followed with the correct vinyl-friendly sealant, as it simply won’t do the job properly. As patio doors are open so much (and also, to give a nice, consistent finish), use exterior paint on both the inner and outer faces of the door.

Of course, you may not even need to paint a vinyl door… If you haven’t bought your door yet and are thinking about buying a white door and customising it, stop and think again. You can buy vinyl doors and windows in a range of colors these days, saving you the job of painting it yourself.

How Do You Seal Acrylic Paint on Vinyl?

After painting the door, you can finish the job with a coating of plastic sealant. This will protect your lovely new paintwork and enhance its color. It will also give the door a neat, professional finish.

However, before you rush out and purchase sealant, first check your paint. Some acrylic paints do the job of primer, paint and sealant, so you shouldn’t need to add another product. If you do need to finish the job with a separate sealant, what sort of sealant do you need to buy?

Look out for a clear acrylic sealant, ideally in a spray to make the job easier (and to give a more even finish). We’ve generally found that one coat is enough to give a protective layer and an attractive finish; however, if you think the door is going to be exposed to some tough weather conditions, you may like to add a second coat. Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before you do this.

Make sure the paint is completely dry before applying the varnish. We recommend allowing at least 24 hours between the final coat of paint and the first coat of varnish, to ensure that it’s thoroughly dry. We’ll take you through all the key stages of painting a vinyl door  in a moment.

Does Vinyl Paint Last?

Because vinyl expands and contracts due to fluctuations in temperature (and an exterior door certainly experiences plenty of those), cracks can eventually appear, then it’s time for another refresh. Surprisingly, the key to a successful vinyl painting job can be down to the color of paint you choose.

Darker colors absorb more heat, so naturally will have a greater variance in temperature. This can reduce the lifespan of the paint, causing it to crack and peel sooner than a paler paint.

In worst-case scenarios, warping of the plastic frame due to increased heat can compromise the fit of the glass pane, so be wary of dark colors in a hot climate. Always choose a lighter shade for your patio doors.

If you prepare the surface correctly then use the right sort of paint, there’s no reason why the new paintwork won’t last. The consensus seems to be that a lifespan of about ten years is good, but of course, that depends on factors like your local climate and the location of the door (is it in a sheltered spot, in a sun trap, facing into the wind?).

Vinyl patio door colors
Painting Patio Doors With Paint for Vinyl Doors

How To Paint Vinyl Patio Doors (Step By Step)

If you can, some people recommend removing the door before you start work, and balancing it carefully on a pair of sawhorses. Choose a time when you can work on the door all day, otherwise you’ll be left with an inconvenient hole in your wall overnight.

If you can’t take the door off, cover the floors, and if they’re hinged doors, find a way to tie them open so they don’t keep swinging open and shut.

1. As with all good paint jobs, the first task is to make sure the surface is thoroughly prepared. Start by cleaning the patio doors with soapy water, making sure that any dirts, stains or debris are washed or scrubbed off.

Fly dirt and bits of dry leaves are particularly stubborn, and may need a gentle scrape to remove them completely. If there are really tricky stains, use a dab of white spirit, making sure you rinse the area very well afterwards. Leave the door to dry: you don’t want to paint onto a damp surface.

2. Next, mask off any areas that you don’t want to get painty, like the glass panels and door furniture. Tape a sheet over the glass, and you may decide it’s easier simply to remove the handles and locks until the job is finished.

3. Then (unless you have a 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 paint) apply a coat of primer. Use a waterborne primer, and one coat should suffice. Allow it to dry naturally (this doesn’t take long).

4. Now it’s time to paint. A paint sprayer is quick and gives you a smooth and even finish. The downside? Unless you’re expert, spraying a narrow door frame isn’t easy, and can result in more than just the door receiving a fresh coat of paint… A brush or small roller can feel safer. Use long, smooth strokes; and if your vinyl door has a grain effect, work with it.

How many coats you use depends on the instructions on your paint tin. Deeper colors may need more coats then if you’re simply refreshing the existing white.

5. Finally, the next day, you can add the finishing coat of sealant (see above), unless your paint already includes sealant in its formulation. And there you go: a completely new look for your patio door, at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one.

To look after your new paintwork, simply keep it clean with good housekeeping. You should be able to wash your sealed paintwork with soapy water to keep it looking gleamingly fresh for a long time.

If you want to give your whole patio a refresh, the same procedure applies to plastic patio furniture, and you could even paint the outside of vinyl windows to match the door.

This great video goes into even more detail on the process of painting vinyl doors and windows:

Final Thoughts: Can You Paint Vinyl Doors & Windows?

If you’ve just moved into a new home and want to paint some older vinyl patio doors, or simply want to refresh the doors on your existing home – then it is possible to make a good job of painting vinyl.

If you don’t want to pay a professional to do it for you, the following the steps above and choose the right acrylic paint and sealant will help you get the polished finish you’re after.

Take your time with it and you’ll soon be showing off your vibrant new colorful doors to your friends and family 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >