Vinyl and aluminum siding are durable, versatile, attractive and easy to maintain. Simply check out your siding once a year to make sure holes, rust and mold aren’t a problem.
Check for discoloration. Stand back and take a good look at your siding. You’re looking for discoloration and other stains (you’ll clean them in the next step). If you have grooves in your siding, check to make sure that stains, mold or mildew haven’t moved into the crevices. Pay particular attention to the northern side of your house, the bottom of the siding and other areas that receive little to no sunlight (mold and mildew thrive in these areas). If you see a black or green patchy area, you probably have mold. You’ll need to remove the fungus and prevent it from spreading. If you’re mold-free, skip to step #3.
Kill the mold. Mix ¾ cup of bleach or vinegar with a gallon of water. Bleach kills spores faster, but vinegar is a better option if you think your mold remover could damage nearby vegetation. Dip a sponge into your mixed solution, and use light pressure to scrub the siding free of mold. Don’t use too much pressure, or you’ll make the siding buckle as you work. Rinse away your solution with water after you’ve scrubbed the mold away. If you don’t see any remaining mold, cross this step off of your list. If there’s even a small amount of mold remaining, repeat this step until your siding is clean. Note: If you decide to use bleach, you might want to cover any nearby plants and shrubs with plastic before you tackle the mold.
Clean the stains. If you find stains (that aren’t mold), grab a soft cloth. It’s time to scrub. Start at the bottom of your house and work up, scrubbing your stains with a mild cleaning solution (dish detergent works well). Make sure to thoroughly rinse away your cleaning solution before it dries, or you’ll promote mold growth. Note: You can use a power washer for this, but make sure to carefully read the instructions of the washer and the siding manufacturer’s recommendations before doing so. Some manufacturers don’t recommend using pressurized water on their products (or have limitations on the amount of pressure that should be used). Also, be careful not to aim the power washer upward because water might be driven behind the siding and get trapped there.
Check for rust. Aluminum and vinyl siding are generally low-maintenance, but they will occasionally corrode. These unsightly spots can spread quickly if left unchecked, so be sure to remove any and all spots you find. Try to do this on a clear, rain-free day. First, gently brush the corroded area with a nylon scrub brush to remove any dust or cobwebs. Then, buff the spot with fine-grade steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper. Don’t put too much pressure on the spot; instead, work slowly until the corrosion chips away and you expose your siding. Once the mark is completely gone, paint the bare spot with anti-corrosion primer, which you can find at your local hardware store. Apply the primer with a paintbrush, and let it fully dry before cleaning the area again.
For vinyl siding: move anything fire-related far, far away. If you have vinyl siding, it’s important to remember that it’s combustible and can melt if it’s exposed to a heat source. Move barbeque grills and readily ignitable materials like dry leaves, mulch, compost piles and trash at least 15 feet away from your siding.
Check and repair holes. Look at your siding closely for any small holes. If you have a large hole or tear, it’s best to call a professional to patch it up, but you can handle small holes on your own.
To repair vinyl holes: If your hole is really small, just use duct tape! Choose a color that matches your siding and apply it when the surface is dry. Make sure the duct tape is completely smooth (you might want to use a rolling pin) and sealed tightly. This fix should last for at least one year!
To repair aluminum holes: First, sand the area around the hole so that it’s more adhesive. Remove any sand dust with a moist towel. Now it’s time to use your epoxy product. Carefully follow the instructions on the two-part epoxy product package, and mix a small batch. Apply the two-part epoxy filler with a small putty knife quickly because the filler dries fast! Let the filler dry (this takes about 30 minutes) and then sand it down so that it’s level with the surrounding aluminum area. If your aluminum siding is a vastly different color, you might want to consider painting the repaired area. Note: If you want to paint your siding, check with your siding manufacturer first. Many of them void their warranties if the siding is repainted!