Can You Paint uPVC Doors and Windows?


If you are asking this question, you’re most likely either looking for a change or don’t like the look of your current uPVC doors or windows. They can be painted, but should it be done? We’ll answer that question, but first we should find out exactly what uPVC means.

What is uPVC?

A uPVC window.
A uPVC window.

Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride, or uPVC, is more rigid than PVC, which is made more flexible by added plasticizers. PVC is used for pipes and cable insulation. uPVC can be used for window frames, vinyl siding, plumbing and draining. In the U.S., many companies refer to uPVC as simply PVC. The material is durable, weather-resistant and cost effective. It can be manufactured in a variety of colors, and can even look like metal or wood. uPVC used in window and/or door framing is usually more energy efficient than wooden or metal frames and can be recycled.

Should you paint uPVC?

Painting uPVC can be done, but should it be? And should you do it yourself? Before you paint your windows, check with your manufacturer. Painting your windows could void your warranty. If that’s not the case, the manufacturer could give insights into which colors will work best with your current color and which paints are safe to use with vinyl. Darker colors retain more heat, which could eventually cause warping or damage to your doors or windows.

Before you commit to painting your doors or windows, consider replacing them if they are older. With new doors or windows you can choose your aesthetic and save money on your electric bill with more energy-efficient technology.

You can also consider cleaning the frames if they look faded or dingy. That might help them look brighter and new. You could also hire a professional to paint your doors or windows instead to ensure that they look terrific.

How to Prep uPVC

cleaning uPVC windowsFirst you should remove any objects from around the work area. Then thoroughly clean your doors or windows with dish soap, water and a lint-free towel. Rinse the windows or door frames well before drying. The next steps of prepping uPVC require some effort. Normal paints will not adhere to uPVC because they have different surface energies. uPVC has a much lower surface energy than water, so the water will bead up and roll off the material, which repels water. For paint to adhere to uPVC, the material’s surface energy must be raised, or the paint’s surface energy must be lowered. Putting paint directly on the vinyl will cause it to flake peel off quickly. It’s important to prep the doors or windows first before painting.

You can raise the surface energy of uPVC by sanding it with 220 or 240-grit sand paper. However, using the abrasive side of a sponge as an alternative to sand paper could be easier because it is less likely to load up with the surface waxes of the uPVC. Scratching the surface creates more surface area and a higher surface energy for paint to stick to. Make sure your doors or windows are completely dry before sanding them. After sanding, clean off all dust and debris to prevent the paint from looking uneven.

Another way to raise the surface energy of uPVC is to clean it with acetone, which breaks down the molecular structure at the surface.

Using a paint with a lower surface energy, such as paints made with acrylic and polyurethane, allows the paint to adhere to the uPVC. It’s important to both prep and use a specialty paint to achieve the best results.

Use painter’s tape or plastic sheeting to protect the glass and areas around the door or window frame that you don’t want painted including panes, weather stripping and walls. Use a sheet or cloth on the ground if painting inside to protect your floors.

Painting the uPVC

The first step is to prime the frame around your doors or windows with a primer made specifically for use on uPVC. If not using spray paint, apply the primer with a sponge brush to avoid visible brush strokes. Check the dry time of the primer and allow it to fully dry before applying paint.

The same method for primers applies for paint. It’s important to use a vinyl-safe paint. Consider using spray paint for an even finish. If not using spray paint, use a sponge brush to avoid visible brush strokes. If applying two coats, let the first coat dry completely before applying the second.

Remove the painter’s tape slowly once the paint is dry to ensure the paint isn’t messed up during removal.

Remember, it’s always best to hire a professional when tackling home improvement projects, especially if any of the steps above sounded daunting.

Also keep in mind that it may be easier or more cost effective to simply have the windows replaced professionally.

More Information about Doors and Windows

If you’re interested in learning more about doors, windows and other types of glass, check out the Glass.com Info Center.

In the market for new windows? Request a quote.

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