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FAQs – How to Paint uPVC Windows and Doors

uPVC windows and doors are rife in the United Kingdom. There was a boom in the 1980s as they rocketed into fashion for their weather-resistant and long-lasting qualities.

If one scours the internet forums for frequently asked questions such as “can you paint upvc windows and doors” and “can you paint plastic window frames” however, they remain a hotbed for misconceptions and frustrations.

When trying to make office blocks look less tired, or shop entrances more up-to-date and chic, there is nothing worse than tired windows and doors. These are the perils of uPVC that is 40 years old. What was wrong with wooden frames? How about some vinyl? And most pressingly, please oh please, can I at least paint them?!

It has become the more economic, and now readily available option. More and more contractors are using paint spray to give doors a fresh look, using a process that can be done in a day!

We at Rawlins Paints are here to dispel some of these other misconstrued myths and come up with some solutions that can give your business an affordable, enticing and professional appearance without the need for new, expensive windows or doors.

It could be a restoration job on an office needing TLC, a touch up on a house for sale, a B&B or shop needing some nip and tuck to ward off some stiff competition! Perhaps you know a school or youth centre looking for a fresher, younger look.

Quick links:

What is uPVC and why is it so popular in the United Kingdom?

Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (uPVC), or vinyl siding as it is known in the United States, is an energy-efficient plastic often used for window and door frames. It is rigid, which means it will not change shape in the heat of the sun, and it is also recyclable. It is not biodegradable I hasten to add, but at very high temperatures it can be remoulded and repurposed.

It is also an incredibly safe plastic, more so than polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as it has no hazardous phthalates or Bisphenol A (BPA). It is also fire-resistant, giving it an advantage over wooden frames.

Note: There is more about BPA in coats and varnishes on our Food Safe Paints blog.

painting-upvc-windows

Can I paint uPVC?

Absolutely! As long as it is not brand new. This is unlikely to be the case in 2018, just choose a different colour from scratch, but it is much harder for a paint to bind to new uPVC due to the manufacturing process. Keep following our guide below and learn how to paint plastic window frames and other uPVC surfaces.

Nevertheless, it is vital to pick the correct paint! And that is where we can help.

You will need a paint that will BOND with the substrate rather than just try to stick to it. Whilst more rigid than PVC, uPVC will have thermal movement (expanding and contracting a little in the heat). Even in our UK climate, the area between glass and wall at the front of a shop or office block is exposed to very high heats. Therefore, you will need a paint that offers UV protection.

Which Products Should I Use?

Zinsser have an excellent range of paints that can be applied to uPVC together:

Zinsser-All-Coat-upvc-paint

Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus is dubbed as the ‘next generation’ of all-surface paints, working as a primer, sealer and stainkiller in one. It contains Hydro Pliolite, a revolutionary trademark-protected resin that has excellent adhesion and stain prevention. It has a biocide in its makeup that protects from mould and mildew in high humidity areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. It has rust-inhibitors if your front door is getting the treatment. It even fights off water and smoke stains and can be re-coated hourly! All in all, it’s more of a ‘Treble 20’ than a Bulls-Eye this, but that’s not quite as catchy now is it?

Zinsser AllCoat Exterior is an ideal product for painting over uPVC. It comes as a water-based and solvent-based product, with Matt, Gloss, AND Satin finishes. It is also re-coatable in one hour, promises excellent colour retention, and resistance from cracking, blistering and flaking.

One of the real strengths of the AllCoat Exterior is its ability to create a good finish from a brush or roller. It comes as a spray and this is also straightforward but having the ability to create a high specification finish with a brush gives the proprietor the option not to call a contractor.

It comes in a HUGE selection of RAL colours, giving you the freedom to really make your windows pop, or to opt for a darker door that oozes prestige. Not only do we offer RAL colours, RAL Design, BS and NCS, we would offer bespoke colour matching if a sample were to be sent in.

You will notice that both products have impressively fast re-coating times. This means you can get this job done in a day. The front door is used by most of us at least once a day, so its efficiency coincides with convenience.

If possible, try to avoid using the solvent-based version of the AllCoat Exterior on uPVC. If at all, do so in the winter months. Give us a call if you’re unsure.

There are also multi-surface paints available from Rust-Oleum and Bedec that can be applied to uPVC.

Rust-Oleum CombiColor Multi-Surface is a quick-drying paint that can be used for your interior and exterior, comes in White, Black, Daffodil Yellow, Light Ivory, Zinc Yellow, Flame Red, Gentian Blue, Moss Green, Silver Grey, Light Grey, Cream, and Traffic White. It works as a primer and topcoat in one.

Bedec Multi-Surface Paint is a non-yellowing, water-based paint that is quick-drying and environmentally friendly. It has low VOC content and is very flexible which makes it optimal for uPVC. It comes in a number of colours including Soft Mint, Soft Pink, Butterscotch, Blush, Chocolate, Brazil, Oxford Blue, Silver and Gold.  Like the Rust-Oleum paint, there is no need for a primer.

rust-oleum-combi-color-upvc-paint

Do you have to prepare or prime the uPVC before painting onto it?

ALWAYS prepare the surface appropriately before using these paints. The surfaces must be dry, clean and free of any debris such as mould or dust. If you are using the Zinsser products, they have pre-treatment products such as their Mould Killer if that is the issue. Make sure the surfaces are sanded so that the brush can achieve a seamless stroke.

After that, degrease the area with methylated spirit and allow it to dry. After this, you should be ready to prime using either Bulls Eye 1-2-3 or Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus, or apply your first paint coat.

If you are using AllCoat Exterior Matt (Water-Based), you will need to use Bulls Eye 1-2-3 as a primer.

If you are using the Gloss or Satin finish however, you will NOT NEED A PRIMER. You can apply the first coating of your paint on immediately after the surface preparation. Wait for this to dry, then apply the second.

Are there colour options for painting uPVC?

There are, in abundance! The most popular colours you see walking along the street are white, black, grey, faux oak (or folk if you’d rather), and darker green or blues.

The Zinsser products (others also,) can be tinted to almost any shade in the RAL colour scheme. Give us a call for more advice.

I mentioned schools and B&Bs that may be looking for rejuvenation or renovation. This enables you to give your windows a really welcoming, warmer colour.

paint-brush-upvc-painting

Can I spray paint it? Or should I use a brush?

You will find that a lot of professionals use spray paint when it comes to uPVC painting. It solidifies in around 30 minutes, takes roughly 3 coats, though that will depend on the colour being used.

However, if you are painting a front door for example, this can be incredibly fiddly as you would need to take it off its hinges to truly protect the brickwork around it. Without the proper equipment, roller or brush may well be the safer option.

Using a paint brush allows you to get around any fiddly design work (with a teaspoon of stealth) and is easy to touch up if you feel like you missed a bit. Do be aware of leaving brush marks though, by over-coating in some areas more than others. The worst that could happen is it leaves a wood-like finish, but it can be avoided if unwanted.

Can I use the same paint on the inside and outside of the building?

If you are looking to paint interior doors, Zinsser’s Perma-White (Interior) is a market-leading choice for combatting mould and mildew in environments with regular temperature changes.

It is used in halls of residence, leisure centres, laboratories, breweries, dairies, hospitals and hotels – anywhere which sees large amounts of condensation and higher temperatures.

It comes with a 5 year guarantee against recurring mould (when applied effectively) and has been proven in several US labs to be the most combative product against black mould and other hazardous mildews. It also comes in a variety of colours.

The full Perma-White brochure is on our website here.

Alternatively, the Rust-Oleum Combicolour mentioned earlier can be used internally, if you are looking for uniformity throughout. Additionally, Zinsser’s Allcoat Exterior (Water Based) Matt, Satin and Gloss finishes (mentioned earlier) can be used on most indoor surfaces, including uPVC, as well as outdoors, and are available in over 400 RAL colours.

We are here to help!

If you fancy a go at painting your own uPVC, give us a call and we will talk you through it. We can offer advice on which paint will be best for you, talk you through some colour options and advise on whether you need a primer or any preparation products. Our Technical Team are available on 0113 245 5450, or you can email us on [email protected]. Further still, feel free to leave a query on the comments section below.

46 comments

  1. Hi, just an enquiry really, we have upvc fence panels in our garden but they have discoloured over the last couple of years. Will the bulls eye 123 paint work on it? The fence panels were brown and we would like to do them the same colour again. Thanks

    • Hi Stephen,

      Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 would be fine as a primer but something like Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Satin (Water Based) can adhere directly to the UPVC without the need of a primer and is available in nearly any colour of your choice.

      Best regards.

      Mark

      • AUDREY DONALDSON

        The finish is flaking off my composite door. The rosewood colour is okay not too bad underneath. Do you have a rosewood varnish I could put over the door or what do you recommend?
        Thanks

        • Hi Audrey,

          We don’t offer any translucent products for this application, our best recommendation for composite doors as an all-in-one would be the Zinsser AllCoat Exterior (water-based) Gloss or Satin. The product has excellent colour retention and adhesion to most exterior surfaces, bare or previously painted, including wood, metal and UPVC.

          Two coats are required, the first coat acts as the primer and the second seals and protects the system. It can be applied by either a brush or a roller and is re-coatable after a minimum of 1 hour. It is fully tint able so you can choose any colour from the RAL, NCS or BS colour charts.

          Always ensure that the surface has been prepared sufficiently, the Zinsser Universal Degreaser & Cleaner is ideal for this or alternatively you can try hot soapy water then rinsed with fresh warm water to remove detergent and when dry a good wipe with methylated spirit. As composite surfaces tend to have a wax like finish we would also advise lightly abrading the surface area. You should make sure the conditions are favourable during application, we recommend a temperature of above 10⁰C for water based products and the relative humidity is less than 80%. Ensure that there is no risk of rain, fog, frost or condensation from affecting the applied paint before it has had a chance to fully cure.

          Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Satin (Solvent Based) can be used in the same way but a coat of Bulls Eye 1-2-3 should be applied first when using Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Gloss (Solvent Based).

    • Hi just a quick enquiry. What type of sprayer would you recommend to use with your paint range for pvcu windows and doors. Many thanks

      • Hi Carl,

        Thanks for your enquiry – you can download data sheets from the “attachments” tab on any product page for advice on spray set ups for that particular product, if applicable.

      • Good afternoon,

        Having just painted the lintel above the kitchen door I’ve realised I’ve damaged the French door with the heat gun….

        Reading your info, am I right in assuming you have to sand the UPVC first so you get a”key “for the first coat of primer or whatever?

        • Hi Angela,

          Sorry to hear about the damage! Zinsser Allcoat Exterior Water Based can be applied to uPVC once it is cleaned and degreased, a light abrasion would also assist in providing a key but isn’t a necessity.

          Let us know how you get on.

    • Hi how do I repair a small damage to one hinge on the outside of my upvc French door.The paint has come of the door hinge .??Its only a tiny little piece.What do I use on it Please??

    • Good morning
      please can you advise if is possible to paint plastic gutters and drain pipes?

  2. Hi,

    I have uPVC windows with a ‘mahogany effect’ dark brown finish.

    Over time & probably due to temperature changes, the finish (which looks like sticky back plastic’ has shrivelled up & is starting to peel off.

    The doors & windows themselves are absolutely fine, it’s just the top layer that is showing its age.

    What would be the recommended solution to fixing this problem ?

    Thanks
    Bharat

  3. Hi,
    i am looking at a possible house purchase – the only thing putting me off is the dark wood UPVC colour window frames internally & on a conservatory. I am not bothered about outside being dark as my current house has dark outside,white inside.
    How easy is it to hand paint the inside to a lighter colour say white,ivory? How much paint do you need per frame / door – number of coats etc? and cost of paint please?
    What product would you recommend?
    sorry lots of question – but big purchase involved.
    many thanks in advance

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your questions. The recommended products for your requirements are outlined in this article, and if you click through to the recommended products, the coverage rates are detailed in the product datasheets – please note that you may need more paint seeing as you are painting a light colour over a darker shade. Without knowing the size of the areas you wish to paint, I can’t give you a quote I’m afraid, but if you can measure them up, please contact [email protected] for a quote.

      You are able to paint over dark uPVC colours with a light ivory type colour though, so please browse the colour options in the products recommended in this article, and I am sure you’ll find something to really brighten the new house up with! Remember that some of these products can be used internally and externally, if you do want to have a more uniformed finish.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  4. I want to paint mu pvc outside door. Am I corerect in thinking that ZInsser all coat exterior satin whater base is fine to use without primer.
    What preperation should i,due to previous owner having painted it use as it is flaking Can you tell me the available colours

    • Hi Mandy,

      Yes, Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Satin (Water Based) is fine on weathered UPVC without a primer. Preparation should be to remove all existing paint if this is failing, ensure underlying UPVC is then thoroughly cleaned and dry and then apply Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Satin (Water Based) directly in the chosen colour.

      The default colour for Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Satin (Water Based) when you land on the product page, is white. Simply click the “Choose a Colour” text, and you’ll see over 200 colour options!
      Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  5. I have a upvc front door it is white . I want it black with crome accsesories added to it how do i do it ? It is a basic plastic door 2 straight glass windows at the top but i feel like a change can you please tell me what i need to get this door to the colour black matt thankyou sam

    • Good morning Samantha,

      Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

      Yes, you can paint uPVC black, and most of the products recommended in the “Can I paint uPVC?” section (link here) of this article are tintable to black. It is best to check what finish you require – as some products are available in matt, satin or gloss finishes.

      Please let us know if there is anything else you can help us with, and don’t forget you can keep in contact with us through our Facebook page.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  6. Hi

    I have painted all my exterior woodwork – front door, garage doors, patio doors, eaves – with Farrow and Ball paint, colour is ‘Tanner’s Brown’. The window frames are all uPVC, a sort of reddish brown mahogany colour, and I would like to paint them in a colour as close as possible to Tanner’s Brown, or complementary to it. (They have to be some shade of brown – management committee rules unfortunately). Please could you recommend a colour or RAL for Zinssers Allcoat exterior paint?

    • Hi Tina,

      Yes, we are able to provide an accurate colour match (rather than recommend a RAL alternative) to Tanner’s Brown. If you contact a member of our sales team on 0113 245 54540, they can process your order today for this colour!

      Best regards.

      Mark

  7. Hi can your paint be used for foiled windows?

    • Good morning Alex,

      Thanks for your question.

      If these are well weathered, give them a good clean, and from there, the Zinsser Universal Degreaser & Cleaner can be used to prepare the surface. Following that surface preparation work, apply 2 coats of Zinsser Allcoat Exterior (Water Based) Satin or Gloss in the colour of your choice.

      Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with today, and don’t forget that you can also contact us through our Facebook page.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  8. Hi I’m looking to paint the interior or my conservatory it’s upvc can I prime in 123 bulls eye then paint in a farrow and ball eggshell paint or would I you say I’m better to use a different type of paint ? Thanks suzie

    • Good morning Suzie,

      This would be fine as long as the F&B paint is suitable for the environment its been used.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  9. When painting upvc front door with zinsser allcoat satin will a dry winters day be ok or should I wait until summer, or would the paint be difficult through drying too quickly in summer.

  10. Hi,

    I hope that you will be able to help? I need to put a cheap window in a hole in our new build and was wondering if I buy a new white UPVC window what is the best product for painting it dark grey?

    Many thanks
    Kelly

    • Good morning Kelly,

      The products we would recommend for the task at hand are listed and outlined in this blogpost. Full application and maintenance is also available on each product page.

      It’s definitely possible to do, and with the products discussed in this article, you’ll get a long-lasting and aesthetically sound finish.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  11. I am Looking for advice on Painting UPVC , (RESIDENCE 9 CASEMENT ENGLISH OAK GLAZED window frames) .

    I only want to paint the EXTERIOR fames and I would like a stain finish. Colour to match RAL 7015

    Thank you in advance

  12. Hi

    Will i need to sand down a uPVC door before applying Zinsser Allcoat Mat and if so what grade of sand paper?

  13. Hello

    I’m looking at spraying some uPVC windows, doors etc in Allcoat Matt finsh. I’m going to be using a HVLP machine and just wondering if bullseye 123 and all coat can be sprayed through one?

    • Hi Jake,

      Thanks for your question.

      Zinsser do not recommend either of these products for application by HVLP spray, this method recommends that the paint be thinned too much – it would affect the properties and performance of the products.

      Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 can be applied by brush, roller, conventional spray (thin up to 10% with water / 50-90 psi) or airless spray .015”- .017” tip @ 2000-2500 psi.

      Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Matt (Water Based) is applied by brush, roller or airless spray – unthinned, .017” tip and high-medium (2000-2500 PSI) pressure.

      If you require any further help, certainly feel free to get in touch.

      • Hello,
        I wondered if the all coat satin finish water based would work on the exterior of a vintage and very small caravan?
        It’s currently peeling normal house exterior paint which was on when we bought and will need Sanding down to the original finish first, but the quote for a garage to spray paint is a lot. I’d like to be able to just brush this on and it look great!

        • Hi Gemma,

          Thanks for your question, I’ll ask the support team and will come back to you ASAP – can I ask what the caravan is made of, please?

  14. How long does the paint last on UVPC window frames. I was told it had to be done every two years , is that true?

    • Hi Sandy,

      Any of the Zinsser AllCoat Exterior range correctly applied inline with the manufacturers instructions would be expected to last up to 15 years.

      Obviously the performance of the system will ultimately be dependent on a number factors including, but not limited to the number of coats applied, preparation, weather conditions, etc. however we wouldn’t expect it to be reduced to 2 years unless there is something particularly onerous we are not aware of with this particular application.

  15. I’m looking to use UPVC cladding on a building and then painting it. you state that the paint will not stick to ‘new’ UPVC – would this be the case even after it was sanded and primed?

    If so, how long would I have to let it age before paining?

    Stu

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