You can paint a vinyl surface, but be prepared

Q: My mother has a vinyl roof on her bay window that she wants to repaint. My Internet search found that it can be done, and that a high-quality, 100 percent latex paint should be used.

A: Yes, you can, with the proper surface preparation and, as you say, a high-quality, 100- percent latex paint. This is what experts recommend to contractors:

"Unlike wood, these substrates — aluminum and vinyl — are significantly more rigid and dimensionally stable and, hence, there are generally less compelling reasons to paint these sidings."

But they do fade, chalk, and grow mildew and algae. As a result, aluminum and vinyl siding provide a great opportunity for painting.

Some things to keep in mind:

In most cases, simply power washing to remove dirt, chalk, and mildew is sufficient to prep the surface for painting. For mildew removal, washing with a mild bleach solution is recommended.

Painting transforms an otherwise dull exterior to a fresh, colorful finish. This is important not only from the standpoint of "curb appeal," but it can afford great creative satisfaction.

Top-quality 100 percent acrylic paints deliver good adhesion and durability on aluminum and vinyl siding.

On the Net: sletter.pdf

You didn't ask, but . . . Consumer Reports says the best toilet is the American Standard Champion 4 2002.014, $425. It "provided power, quietness, and thorough bowl cleansing in one flush." The worst: The Kohler Persuade K-3654, $325, has separate modes for liquid and solid waste.

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