Red metallic roof tiles background with drops of water

Can You Paint a Metal Roof?

In short, yes. Any metal roof can be painted. Your type of metal roof will be the key determining factor for what kind of paint you should use. Here, we break down all necessary precautions to take, as well as the proper steps needed to conduct a seamless DIY repaint of your roof. Metal roofing is superior in quality and longevity to asphalt shingle roofs but will require specific maintenance for you to fully see the benefits of owning one.

Stanislaw Mikulski

Painting a Metal Roof for Aesthetics vs. Functionality

Homeowners have varied reasons for repainting their roofs. Factory-manufactured coloration will degrade over time when exposed to the sun and elements. This will be true even if you live in a milder climate area. Aside from appearances, painting your metal roof can inhibit corrosion and ensure that your roof maintains its structural and insulation qualities.

Curb Appeal

The most obvious reason for painting any roof is to restore the appearance of a new roof’s factory finish. UV rays, rain, wind, falling branches, and more can scratch up a roof and age it prematurely.

Increased Lifespan

Some metal roofing materials can last upwards of 50 years. With proper maintenance, you can hope to extend this lifespan, which will thereby increase the resale value of your home. Applying the right coating or paint to your roof can increase solar reflectivity and make them more durable in the face of small debris and the elements.

Improved Home Energy Efficiency

Insulation and reflective quality are core reasons for many homeowners opting for a metal roof. Lightly colored metal roofs can reduce “heat island” effects, which cause densely populated areas to be hotter due to reflected heat. Painting according to cool roof EPA guidelines can be a great aesthetic choice and can make your home more energy-efficient.

How to Paint a Metal Roof

We’ve detailed our step-by-step guide for painting a metal roof here. We recommend hiring a roofer if yours is a standing seam metal surface or has a steep pitch (greater than 4 in 12). Regarding home improvement needs, painting a roof can present a fair number of risks you shouldn’t take lightly before diving in. If you opt for a DIY roof painting project, you’ll need the following:

  • Power washer
  • Extendable paint roller
  • Wire brush
  • Paint scraper
  • Roof paint
  • Roof primer
  • Wide paintbrush (for detail work)
  • Paint trays (if using a paint roller)

Surface Preparation

Choose a dry day to wash, prime, and paint your roof. Contrary to popular belief, the height of summer is not a good time to conduct this or any maintenance around your roof or gutter space. The sun’s rays will make your surface far too hot to work on comfortably. Professional roofers are equipped to cope with this, but most DIYers should aim to make this task as easy as possible. Mid-spring and late autumn are the best times to paint your roof.

  • Remove old paint: A basic power washing will be sufficient for loose paint. For relatively undamaged areas, you may want to use a mineral-based solvent to loosen and remove your old paint. Be sure to test any chemicals you use on a non-visible area first. For easy-to-reach areas, use your paint scraper.
  • Remove rust: Properly priming and painting your roof will prevent the spread of most rust or corrosion. Paint scrapers or abrasive brushes will work for loose rust, while vinegar should suffice for more stubborn patches.
  • Power wash your roof: Power washers are available for rental from most hardware stores and typically offer daily rates. Once your roof is totally clear of debris and dirt, you should wait around an hour for it to dry.
Dmitry Kalinovsky/ Shutterstock

Apply Primer

While your roof is drying, you should arrange your workspace. Whether you’re applying paint and primer with a sprayer, or extended roller, you should apply a thick coat to all dried surfaces. Be sure to take your time. For all higher, hard-to-reach areas near the peak of your roof, apply primer early on while exercising care.

Most primers take an hour to dry. This means that the area you begin on for this step should be dry by the time you’re done priming your roof. Once you’ve finished preparing for the painting phase of your project, the entire primed roof should be dry.

When you’ve finished priming, wring out or otherwise clean your paint roller before moving on to the painting step.

Apply First Coat

Once you’re securely on your ladder with paint in hand, you should begin at the peak of each roof section and work your way down. Working methodically through each area of your roof, you should apply a thick layer of whatever coating you’ve chosen.

You’ll be applying multiple coats of paint for any roof painting job. With that in mind, be sure to apply paint thoroughly.

Apply Second Coat

Allow your primary coat of paint to dry for at least an hour before beginning work on your second coat. For most roofs, this should be the final step. However, before making this determination, you should wait until your final coat has fully dried. If the color isn’t quite as dark as you’d thought it would be, or if you think you’ve missed some spots, then a third coat might be warranted.

What Kind of Paint Should You Use on a Metal Roof?

Modern homes will almost always have galvanized metal roofs. You can use oil-based alkyd paint or acrylic latex paint for most of these roofing types. Older homes have predominantly terne roofing. Terne is a steel metal base with a zinc and aluminum alloy coating, which you’ll have to apply oil-based paint to for full protection.

Cost to Paint a Metal Roof

Given average residential roof sizes that range between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet, you can expect the average cost of professional paint jobs to fall between $2,000 and $2,500. Low-end costs settle around $1,000 to $1,200, while high-end costs can exceed $3,500.

Roofing paint costs will usually fall between $0.25 and $0.50 per square foot, which projects to $375 to $750 for a 1,500-square-foot roof per coat. This five-gallon bucket of Gardner Metal Roof Acryllic Coating covers up to 450 square feet while costing $150. With multiple coats, you could pay $1,050 for paint alone.

Safety Tips for Painting Your Roof

Repainting a roof on your own presents similar dangers to you as DIY roof leak fixes. As is the case with roofing or gutter repairs, working at heights presents a number of safety hazards. OSHA ranks falling injuries as the number one concern for construction workers across the U.S. If you’re going to forego hiring professional roofers, then you should observe the following precautions.

Work From a Ladder

Secure footing when working around your roof is key to staging a safe roof installation. Your ladder for a range of roof heights should follow these guidelines:

  • 17-21 feet: 28-foot ladder
  • 21-25 feet: 32-foot ladder
  • 25-28 feet: 36-foot ladder
  • 28-31 feet: 40-foot ladder

Use an Anchor

If you’re going to be walking around on your roof, you should anchor yourself to a secure roof fixture. This should ideally be a chimney or similar protrusion. Ideally, you should wear a harness with a short lead to the secure point.

tkemot/ DepositPhotos

Don’t Work Alone

If you’re not sure that you’ll have the necessary dry weather for roof painting for more than a single day, you may feel compelled to rush your roof painting project. Instead of doing this, you should enlist someone’s help before you begin. Many home improvement injuries occur due to a general lack of care as a result of rushing the process. Having proper assistance will help to ensure that you don’t rush.

Roof Maintenance Tips

Regularly Inspect and Clean Your Roof

This should be done twice a year, at the beginning of spring and at the end of autumn. Conduct a full walkaround of your home and check for any visible signs of damage. Early detection of holes or leaks can save you money in the long run.

Trim Trees Near Your Home

Eliminating the chance of damage from falling tree limbs can greatly extend your roof’s lifespan. Your routine inspections should include being aware of the surrounding growth on your property.

Clean Your Gutters

Cleaning gutters will prevent water damage to your fascia boards and soffits and the substrate immediately under the edge of your roof. Even with the best gutter guards, your gutters will require semi-annual inspections and cleaning to maintain functionality.

Final Thoughts

Painting your roof is well within the capabilities of the average homeowner. With the right tools, know-how, and requisite time, you can address nearly any of your home or roof needs on your own. Due to the relative danger of roofing work, however, we recommend at least getting a consultation from a professional roofer prior to conducting DIY maintenance. Roof inspections can help you gain fresh insights into a given project’s requirements, leading to a better result.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of metal roof is best for painting?

Any metal roofing material can be painted. Before you paint your metal roof, you should be aware of any existing factory or manufacturer warranties. Painting your roof could void such warranties.

Do painted metal roofs fade?

Yes. All painted, and unpainted metal roofs will fade over time. Old panels and old paint will succumb to UV damage over years or decades. Your types of paint and metal roofing will both play a part in how long your original finish should maintain its vibrance.

Can you paint a rusty metal roof?

Yes, you can paint a rusty metal roof. The best paint for such a job is a water-based metal roof product that is specifically made for the job. Applying a coat of metal primer beforehand will help ensure that all paint adheres to the given surface and that the rust doesn’t spread further.

How long will a painted metal roof last?

This will vary depending on your exact type of new paint used. However, once you’ve painted a roof, it’s recommended that you re-paint every ten years.

Can I paint a roofing membrane?

Top coats can be applied to most TPO and EPDM roofing membranes in lieu of roof paint. These materials cover roughly 100 square feet per gallon and can be rolled, sprayed, or painted onto the given surface.

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