Alumawood is a popular and durable material used for patio covers and awnings. Its aluminum construction makes it lightweight, low maintenance, and resistant to cracking, peeling, rotting, and warping. But even the factory-applied finish on Alumawood will fade and wear down over time from sun exposure and weather. Painting your Alumawood patio cover can give it a fresh new look and add lasting color.
Can You Paint Alumawood Patio Covers?
The short answer is yes, you can paint Alumawood patio covers. Painting aluminum is very doable with the right prep work, paints, and techniques. However, there are some important factors to keep in mind:
- Use high quality 100% acrylic latex or oil-based enamel paints designed for metal surfaces. Stay away from cheaper vinyl and lower grade latex paints which won’t adhere well or last.
- Proper surface prep is crucial – clean, degrease, and scuff the surface lightly before painting. This helps the paint bond.
- Apply in thin, even coats allowing proper dry time between coats. Usually two coats is sufficient for adequate coverage and durability.
- Hire a professional painter experienced with aluminum if you want the longest lasting, most durable painted finish.
While the baked-on finish Alumawood comes with from the factory is meant to stand up to sun and weather for years, paint can freshen up the look of an older Alumawood cover and allows you to easily change colors when desired. Just don’t go too crazy with frequent repainting every couple years or the paint may start peeling. Plan on repainting every 5-7 years, longer if possible.
Preparing Alumawood for Painting
Prepping an Alumawood cover properly before painting is the most important step for achieving great results. Here is a primer on how to get your Alumawood ready for paint:
Clean and Degrease
Use a general household cleaner or degreaser to thoroughly clean the Alumawood, removing any dirt, grease, oil or chalky residue from the existing finish. If there is mildew or mold present, use a mildew remover and a stiff brush to scrub it away. Rinse thoroughly.
Lightly Scuff the Surface
Using 120-150 grit sandpaper, lightly scuff the entire surface of the Alumawood cover. This helps the paint adhere properly. Don’t remove too much of the existing finish. Just rough it up a bit.
Remove Loose Paint and Dust
If you’re repainting an already painted cover, scrape off any loose or peeling paint. Feather surrounding edges smooth. Then wipe the entire surface with a tack cloth to remove dust.
Spot Prime Bare Aluminum
For any exposed bare aluminum, spot prime just those areas with a quality etching metal primer. This helps prevent corrosion under the new paint.
With proper prep work like this, you’ll have a clean surface ready for fresh paint that will look great for years.
Best Paints for Alumawood Covers
Not all paints are created equal when it comes to bonding and lasting on aluminum surfaces like Alumawood. To get the best looking, most durable painted finish, use these recommended paints:
Oil-Based Alkyd Enamel
Oil-based paints provide the toughest, longest-lasting finish on aluminum. For Alumawood covers, an exterior alkyd enamel, like Rust-Oleum Professional High Performance Protective Enamel, is an excellent choice. Oil paints adhere well, resist fading and wear, and expand and contract similarly to aluminum.
100% Acrylic Latex Paint
For a latex option, choose a high quality 100% acrylic latex paint formulated for metal surfaces, like Sherwin Williams ProClassic Exterior Alkyd Acrylic or Benjamin Moore DTM Acrylic Coating. These offer great adhesion and durability.
Krylon Fusion Spray Paint
For small Alumawood paint jobs, Krylon Fusion spray paint bonds incredibly well to metals and plastics. Just be sure to use their primer first for best adhesion. Multiple light coats work best for full coverage.
Avoid cheaper paints like vinyl, lower grade latex, and generic enamels. Stick with the premium quality paints designed for exterior metals and you’ll get great painted results on your Alumawood that will last.
How to Paint Alumawood Covers
Once your Alumawood cover is prepped properly and you’ve got the right paint selected, follow these tips for applying the paint:
Paint in Thin, Even Coats
Apply the paint in smooth, thin coats without allowing it to puddle or run. Thick coats take too long to dry and can crack. Multiple thin coats provide better adhesion and a smoother finish.
Allow Proper Dry Time Between Coats
Don’t rush the painting process. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for dry time between coats – usually at least 24 hours for oil-based and 4-6 hours for latex. This prevents trapped moisture problems.
Apply Two Coats for Best Durability
Most quality paints will provide adequate coverage in two coats. The second coat seals the first for added protection. Additional coats won’t improve durability much and can start showing brush marks.
Maintain Wet Edges When Brushing
While spraying paint on Alumawood is fastest, high quality brush painting works too. Maintain a wet edge as you paint and avoid going over areas as they start to dry or you’ll get lap marks.
Use a High Quality Brush or Roller
Spend a little more on premium brushes and microfiber rollers designed for smooth metal surfaces. Avoid foam rollers which flatten leaving texture. Quality tools make painting much easier.
Follow these tips as you apply the paint for professional looking results. Your freshly painted Alumawood cover will look amazing for years to come.
Painting Alumawood Cover Undersides
While the top of your Alumawood cover is the part most visible, for full protection you’ll also want to paint the underside surfaces. This isn’t quite as easy considering the height and angles involved. Here are some tips to make underside painting more manageable:
Use Ladders or Scaffolding
For one-story patio covers, an extension ladder with a work platform can allow you to reach much of the underside. For taller covers, renting scaffolding provides safe access.
Lay Down Drop Cloths
Protect the ground, outdoor furniture, plants, etc. from paint drips by laying down canvas drop cloths below the cover before starting.
Create a Raised Platform
Place plywood planks across sawhorses or ladders to create a raised platform. This allows you to stand comfortably underneath while painting rather than bending over.
Use Pole Paint Rollers
Attach rollers to extendable paint poles which allow reaching higher underside areas without climbing ladders. High quality microfiber or foam pole rollers work great.
With some creativity and the right tools, you can paint the underside of your Alumawood cover to get that freshly painted look everywhere.
Hiring a Professional Painter
While do-it-yourself painting is certainly possible with proper prep and technique, hiring professional painters who specialize in painting aluminum patio covers will provide the highest quality, longest lasting results.
Experienced With Aluminum
Professional painters with metal experience understand all the right products and processes for the most durable finish. DIY mistakes can lead to peeling or having to repaint sooner.
Painting contractors have the right ladders, lifts, and tools to safely access difficult areas like cover undersides. They can spray paint for a smooth uniform finish too.
Better Prep Work
Experts will take the time to clean, etch, sand, and prime the Alumawood properly so paint bonds incredibly well. This leads to longer lasting results.
Many professional painters offer warranties on their workmanship. This guarantees the paint job for a certain number of years.
While costing more upfront, hiring a reputable professional painter is worth it for Alumawood covers with a beautifully done paint job that will last.
Paint Color Choices for Alumawood Covers
Beyond getting the prep work and application right, choosing the right paint color is key to getting great results when painting your Alumawood patio cover.
Popular Paint Color Options
Some of the most popular color choices for aluminum patio covers and awnings include:
- White – A crisp, classic color that complements most home exteriors
- Beige – Warmer tan and brown beige tones blend well and hide dirt
- Gray – Sophisticated grays from light silver to dark charcoal work on any style home
- Brown – Rich browns like mocha and espresso provide an earthy feel
- Cream – Softer whites like almond, ivory, and cream give a subtle elegance
- Red – Vibrant reds and burgundies make a bold accent statement
- Green – Nature-inspired greens like sage and forest add welcoming color
- Blue – Cool tones like navy and sky blue are calming outdoor accents
Neutral vs. Bold Color Choices
Neutral white, beige, gray, and brown are the most common choices for aluminum patio covers since they seamlessly match most homes. But don’t be afraid to go bold with brighter accent colors as well. Vibrant reds, blues, greens, or other colors can liven up your outdoor space. Just be sure they complement your home’s existing color scheme.
Matching Your Home’s Exterior
Selecting a patio cover paint color that matches or complements your home’s exterior color palette helps it blend in naturally rather than clashing. Consider siding, brick, trim, shutters, and other exterior colors when choosing a paint shade. Soft whites, warm grays, tans, and other neutral earth tones tend to work on most houses.
Factors Affecting Perceived Color
Keep in mind that the color you see on a small paint sample can look different once applied to the larger surface area of a patio cover. Lighting also affects colors. Softer north facing light, shade, or artificial lighting at night changes how paint colors appear. Opt for medium depth colors that maintain their character in different lighting. Also, painted aluminum will show some sheen, subtly lightening colors.
Hiring a Color Consultant
If struggling to pick the perfect paint color for your patio cover, consider hiring a professional color consultant. Experts at firms like Color 911, Phorr Architects, and Color by Design can assess your home, analyze colors, and recommend shades guaranteed to complement your exterior beautifully. Their fees are well worth it for flawless results.
Painting Over Factory-Applied Finishes on Alumawood
Many Alumawood patio covers come pre-finished from the factory with durable baked-on finishes like Kynar 500 designed to last 15-20 years. But painting over these factory finishes is certainly possible for freshening up the look. Here are some tips:
- For proper paint adhesion, thoroughly clean and scuff sand the existing finish first
- Spot prime any exposed aluminum before applying finish coats everywhere
- Satin or semi-gloss paints help hide imperfections in the existing finish best
- Higher quality oil and 100% acrylic latex paints adhere well and last over factory finishes
- Allow extra dry time between coats when painting over factory baked-on finishes
With the right prep work and paints, you can successfully apply a fresh painted finish over the factory coating on your Alumawood cover that will look amazing. Just don’t expect the paint to last quite as long as on raw Alumawood – plan on repainting after 5 years or so.
Avoiding Common Paint Problems on Alumawood Covers
Painting Alumawood covers brings amazing results when done right, but also comes with the risk of frustrating problems occurring if proper techniques aren’t followed. Be aware of these potential painting pitfalls:
- Inadequate prep work
- Using low quality paint
- Applying paint too thick
- Not allowing proper dry time between coats
- Painting over dirt, oil, or chalky residues
- Clean, degrease, and sand the surface properly before painting
- Use premium 100% acrylic or oil-based enamel paints
- Apply multiple thin coats, allowing full drying between coats
- Painting over partially dried areas
- Using low quality brushes
- Applying paint too thin
- Maintain a wet edge when brushing and don’t overlap
- Use high quality synthetic or Chinex bristle brushes
- Apply paint generously enough for even coverage
- Painting over moist surfaces
- Applying paint too thick
- Painting in direct sun leading to blistering
- Never paint wet Alumawood
- Apply multiple thinner coats
- Paint in shade and on cooler days
Chalky Faded Finishes
- Using lower quality paints
- Not applying enough coats
- Paint failure from sun/weather exposure
- Use premium exterior grade acrylic or enamel paints
- Apply at least two coats for complete coverage and protection
- Plan on repainting every 5-7 years
Rust Bleeding Through Paint
- Not properly spot priming exposed aluminum
- Moisture reaching untreated aluminum underneath
- Ensure any exposed aluminum is properly etched and primed
- Use oil-based primers and paints which resist moisture best
Avoiding these all-too-common paint failures comes down to proper prep, patience, and using the right painting products and techniques for aluminum surfaces like Alumawood.
How Often Should You Repaint Alumawood Covers?
Any paint finish exposed to sun, rain, snow, and other elements will gradually wear down over time. How long your Alumawood cover’s painted finish lasts depends on several factors:
- Paint Quality – Premium exterior grade paints last significantly longer than cheaper paints
- Surface Prep – Proper cleaning, sanding, and priming allows paint to adhere tightly, extending its life
- Coats Applied – Additional coats provide added protection and durability
- Exposure Level – Covers in full sun and weather fade faster than ones in protected areas
- Maintenance – Periodic washing helps the paint last longer
With high quality application and paints, you can expect an Alumawood cover’s painted finish to last around:
- 5-7 years for latex acrylic paint
- 7-10 years for oil-based enamel
Plan on inspecting the paint yearly and touching up any problem spots. Then do a full repaint once fading and wear become extensive. With proper prep and painting techniques, your freshly painted Alumawood cover will continue looking amazing year after year.
Cost to Paint Alumawood Patio Covers
If hiring a professional contractor to paint your Alumawood patio cover, the costs typically range:
- $300 to $800 for a smaller 8′ x 8′ pergola cover
- $800 to $1500 for a 12′ x 12′ single-car cover
- $1500 to $3000+ for a large 20′ x 20′ double car cover
Factors impacting the cost include:
- The size of the cover – larger covers require more prep, paint, time, and equipment
- Whether scaffolding/lift rental is needed to access high areas
- If spray painting or just brush/roller application is used
- How much repainting vs. painting over original finish is required
- What prep work like stripping peeling paint or filling holes is needed
- If you provide the paint or the contractor supplies it
- Local labor costs and contractor rates in your area
While DIY painting can save on labor costs, hiring a pro experienced with aluminum finishes assures a long-lasting, high quality paint job.
Common Myths and Misconceptions About Painting Alumawood
There are some common misconceptions and bits of misinformation regarding painting Alumawood floating around. Let’s debunk some of the most common Alumawood painting myths:
Myth: You can’t paint over Alumawood’s factory finish
Truth: While the baked-on finishes are meant to last 15-20 years, painting over them is certainly possible. Proper prep work allows paint to adhere well.
Myth: Painting Alumawood voids the warranty
Truth: Painting does not void Alumawood’s structure warranty. However, the factory finish warranty is voided.
Myth: Oil-based paints can’t be used on Alumawood
Truth: On the contrary, oil-based alkyd enamels provide the most durable painted finish for aluminum.
Myth: Alumawood has to be sanded to bare metal before painting
Truth: Light scuff sanding is all that’s needed for paint prep. Removing the factory finish entirely is not required.
Myth: Any exterior paint will work fine on Alumawood
Truth: Lower quality paints like vinyl acrylics don’t adhere well to aluminum. Stick with paints formulated for metal.
Myth: Painting Alumawood is just like painting wood
Truth: Aluminum expands and contracts differently than wood, requiring specialized paints and application techniques.
Myth: Painted Alumawood covers require no maintenance
Truth: Periodic cleaning, touching up chips, and re-painting every 5-7 years keeps the finish looking its best.