Aluminum siding can take a knocking, but it’s not immune to dents and scratches. There are a lot of self-repair technologies waiting to be discovered and mass-marketed, but self-repairing aluminum siding hasn’t made it off the drawing boards of the engineering scientists and into the hands of the average home owner. We’re still waiting for house-siding that can heal itself as naturally and effortlessly as the skin on our bodies. Until then, we’re stuck repairing the scratches and dents ourselves.
Scratches are far easier to repair than dents. A little sanding and painting is all it takes. Get some fine-grit sandpaper and sand the scratched area down until you reach bare aluminum. Then take some aluminum-formulated primer and apply it to the area. Let the primer dry. You can then paint the siding with an exterior latex housepaint that matches the rest of the aluminum.
Fixing dents in aluminum siding takes a little more effort. You’ll have to drill, pull, sand, fill, smooth and paint. If you’ve ever done some body work on a dented automobile it might not seem so daunting. For some dents, it might just be easier to put in a new piece of aluminum siding.
If you want to avoid replacing a piece of aluminum siding and would rather just fix the dent, you start with a drill in hand. If you have a dent that roughly takes on a circular form and isn’t all zigzagged about, find the deepest part of the dent then drill in a 1/8th inch hole. If you have an odd-shaped dent, you still need to find the deepest part of the dent, but instead of drilling one hole, drill a row of 1/8th inch holes that are about one inch apart that follow along only the deepest part of the dent.
Once the holes are drilled, for each hole you’re going to take a ¾ inch long self-tapping sheet metal screw and put two washers under each screw head. Then put one of those screws (with the washers on) into each hole you drilled.
Now comes the pulling part. You need some arm strength for this. Get a pair of pliers and pull on each of those screws to raise the dented surface. Once it’s raised, you can remove the screws and washers.
Next, you start working on perfecting the appearance. Sand the area down to bare aluminum then wipe it down with some deglossing liquid. You can find deglossing liquid at most hardware stores, but the next step might require a trip to an auto supply store if your hardware store doesn’t have an auto section.
Once the deglossing liquid is on, take some two-part epoxy automotive filler and fill in the area. There is a plastic spreader that’s usually sold near the automotive filler to be used just for this purpose. Work with fast strokes so it will be smooth before it hardens. When it hardens you can sand down the area some more to get an even surface finish.
After your dented aluminum siding has been pulled, filled and sanded, you can add the finishing touches. Put aluminum primer on the sanded area and the nearby surrounding area. Once the primer dries, you can paint it with a latex exterior housepaint to match your siding.
Deciding whether to repair or replace a piece of dented aluminum siding is largely a personal preference based on skill, strength and accessibility to materials. Scratches, however, are quite simple to repair. It’ll be a while be self-healing aluminum siding comes off the drawing boards and jumps onto your house, so keep your sandpaper and primer handy.