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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

 

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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.

 

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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 5year 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.

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.

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