How to Paint Aluminum Gutters and Downspouts

Oct 20, 2021
How to Paint Aluminum Gutters and Downspouts

Do your gutters take away from your home rather than adding a finishing touch to your roofline? Painting downspouts and gutters is a cheap alternative to buying replacements and can enhance the curb appeal of your home.

Vinyl gutters come pre-painted, selected to match and complement the tone of the home’s exterior. Should vinyl gutters need to be painted, doing so is relatively easy. Aluminum gutters on the other hand, are a bit different.

There is a misconception that painting aluminum gutters can be too taxing to be a do-it-yourself (DIY) task. Of course, preparation goes into painting the gutters; however, you do not need to be a professional to get the job done. All it takes is the right guidance and your old aluminum gutters can be transformed to look as good as new!

Decide if you Need to Remove Gutters

Before starting the process, you will need to decide whether to remove your gutter system or keep them up during the painting process. For starters, if you are painting the entire system, removal may not be practical. While this way is the most ideal, remember that your gutters hang far above the ground-level of your home. It is unlikely that any missed patches of paint on the undercarriage will be noticed. When it comes to the downspouts, it makes more sense to fully remove them as they run down the side of your home and make a big impact on aesthetics. The same goes if you are painting one or two sections (a few feet of each) of the gutter system. Removing these respective sections from the home will correct the visual impact of prior damage to those areas and ensure these sections match the rest.

If working at heights isn’t for you, it may be worth it to remove your gutters section by section and paint them safely on the ground of your property. Otherwise, you can perform a more than satisfactory DIY aluminum rain gutter paint job while leaving them exactly where they are in your home.

How to Clean the Gutters

1. Use a Power Washer or Mild Soap and Water to Clean the Gutters

Using a pressure washer can help to clean your gutters fast. If you do not already own a pressure washer, you can rent or buy one at your local hardware store or online. You may also clean the gutters with mild soap, water, and a soft bristled brush if you do not own a pressure washer. This method will take more time but will clean the gutters just as efficiently. The pressure washer will have an extendable arm, making it easy and quick for you to clean the gutters. If you’d like to get closer to the gutters for a more precise clean, you can also stand on a ladder.

To ensure no residue is left behind after pressure washing, scrub the gutters with a coarse scrubbing pad. Start by filling a bucket with warm water and liquid dish detergent. Proceed to scrub your gutters in a circular motion with the scrubbing pad, wiping away any loosened dirt and debris as it builds up in the foam. Once the gutters are clean, inspect for any scratches or areas of concern which could make for a streaky paint job. Sand and smooth these spots out to prep them for painting.

2. Try Mildew Retardant if Gutters Have Mildew or Mold and Let Them Dry for a While

If you notice your gutters have mildew or mold on them, clean and remove it with a retardant. Mildew retardant can be found at your local hardware store or online. This type of retardant will contain chemicals that will help to remove mildew and prevent it from forming. Always remember to follow the application instructions on the label. As well, be sure to apply the product while wearing gloves and a face mask so you are protected from the chemicals in the retardant.

Once the gutters have been thoroughly cleaned, allow them to dry for 4-6 hours, preferably on a sunny day. Make sure to flip the gutters over every few hours to allow water to drain out of the cracks and crevices. It is absolutely essential that the area is extremely clean before you apply any new paint to the gutters.

How to Strip, Sand, and Seal the Gutters

1. Use Plastic Putty Knife to Strip the Old Paint

To strip your gutters from old paint, start by using a plastic putty knife. A plastic putty knife is ideal as it will not scratch the gutter like a metal or steel wire brush might. Putting pressure on the knife and in long strokes, scratch off any old paint on the gutters. Try to get off as much of the old paint as you can using this method.

2. Don’t Forget to Apply Paint Stripping Chemicals

If you find that any old paint is sticking to the gutters, you can use paint stripping chemicals to make it easier to take it off. Apply a small dab of the paint stripper to a rag. Using the rag, scrub off any remaining old paint. Remember to protect yourself whilst using paint stripper: wear gloves, a face mask, and do not apply too much product to ensure you are protecting yourself from the fumes.

3. Now It’s Time to Sand the Gutters with a Medium Sanding Block

Sanding the gutters will create a smooth surface, helping the new paint to better adhere. Lightly sand over the gutters from the sides to the bottom to remove any rough patches and get rid of any remaining old paint. Take your time sanding the gutters, making sure to get them as smooth as possible.

4. Rinse the Gutters with Water and Dry Them with a Cloth

Using a hose or wet cloth, remove any residue from sanding that is remaining on the gutters. The gutters should be smooth to the touch.

Before priming the gutters, wait for them to be completely dry. Check that there is no remaining water or sand residue on the gutters and if so, dry the gutters with a cloth.

Using a gutter seal compound, seal any joints where the gutters and downspouts connect. If you have seamless gutters, you can skip this step. Allow the compound to dry before applying any primer to the gutters.

Time to Prime the Gutters Appropriately

1. Do Not Forget to Use Pieces of Cardboard to Protect Your Home from Paint

Rest small pieces of cardboard or poster board on top of and behind the gutters to make sure paint does not get onto your home. Cut the cardboard to fit the top of the gutters, especially the corners. Using painter’s tape, attach the cardboard to the top of the gutters. Additionally, cover the soffit, fascia, and siding on your home so paint does not get on these items either. As long as you place the cardboard on the gutters, you will not need to use painter’s tape. You will be working closely with the primer and paint so the risk of getting a lot of it on your home is low.

Another way to protect your home from paint is to take the gutters off the home completely. Use a screwdriver to take off the gutters so you do not damage them. Place the gutters on a painter’s tarp outside of your home. Ensure they are laid down in order so that you can easily put the gutters back. By removing the gutters from your home, you can then prime and paint the gutters without having to worry about getting paint on the home.

2. Apply an Oil-Based Primer with the Use of Airless Sprayer and Allow Gutters to Dry

Be sure to allow for drying time (at least two hours) after cleaning and then you can proceed to coat your gutters with the primer. When it comes to aluminum rain gutters, applying a clear acrylic bonding primer is recommended before painting. The primer will help the topcoat adhere better to the gutters. Additionally, primer will also help to prevent the topcoat from flaking or peeling.

Within 48 hours of the primer being applied, you will also want to apply an oil-based high-gloss enamel to your gutters. This will ensure the gutters maintain a surface that is conducive to fast rainwater flow. For best results, apply a second coat of the enamel once the first coat has dried.

Time to Apply an Aluminum Paint

1. Apply Two Layers of Coats

Select a colour for the gutters that complements your home. Many homeowners will go with classic white as it looks clean and simple.

2. Paint the Gutters at Last

Choose a high quality 100% acrylic paint (without ammonia which reacts with aluminum) for optimal results. If you can find one with UV-protectant, that’s even better! Your next decision is regarding whether you should use a sprayer, or simply opt for the paintbrush method. While spray painting may seem like an easier task, you will need to guard your home exterior from excess spray when leaving the gutters attached to the roof, which will involve a lot of tape, tarp, and cardboard. Removing the gutters for painting will ensure spraying is a quick, easy, and viable option. When done right, both can achieve optimal visual and functional results.

Now, let’s paint the gutters! Using either a paintbrush or sprayer, apply a thin layer of topcoat. Make sure to use a small amount of topcoat on the paintbrush so that it spreads thinly on the gutters. You can also apply a thin layer of topcoat with a paint sprayer. Ensure that you only spray over the gutters once with the first layer of topcoat so it does not become too thick.

Let the paint dry, then apply a second coat. Typically, it will take 2-4 hours for the topcoat to dry completely. Once the paint has dried completely, put the gutters back up onto the home and ensure that they are secure. Should the gutters need any touching up, use a small paint brush dipped in topcoat to touch up and spots you may have missed.

How to Avoid Painting Gutters in the Future

If you can prevent your gutters from clogging, you may not need to worry about gutter painting or replacement. By allowing debris to build up in your gutters, your gutters can become more prone to sagging under the weight of sticks and leaves in the gutter. Should the eavestrough become full with debris, they will bend outwards under the pressure, spilling water onto the siding of your home and onto the ground as well. To prevent this from happening, remember to clean your gutters seasonally and remove any built-up debris that has presented itself.

As clogged gutters grow algae over time, they become very hard to clean and debris tends to stick to the sides of the gutters. Additionally, if water sits in the gutter and spills over the side on a regular basis, this will lead to rust and potential other damage to your home. Investing in gutter guards, cleaning and eavestrough repair, or gutter replacement with a gutter guard system is a great way to prevent these issues. Water will slide into the gutter while any debris is directed toward the ground below.

At D’Angelo & Sons Roofing & Exteriors, we want to make sure your home is in its best condition both physically and aesthetically. Interested in gutter replacement? Contact us today at (905)-387-3000 to schedule a free estimate!

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