Solved! Can You Paint Roof Shingles?
Discover a different method for updating the appearance of your home.
Q: I noticed the worn-out appearance of my roof as I pulled into my driveway the other day. The shingles are just 10 years old, so I don’t want to completely reshingle the roof if I don’t have to. However, I do want to update the look. A friend suggested painting the roof, which I wasn’t sure about. Can you paint roof shingles?
A: Painting shingles is absolutely possible, and there are both benefits and drawbacks to shingle painting. Painting roof shingles in a bright, reflective color, like white, can give any home a new, attractive appearance and also reflect the heat from the sun, helping to keep cooling costs lower in the summer months. However, you need to have the right asphalt shingle paint and ensure that it doesn’t trap moisture inside the roof layers, which could lead to mold, mildew, and wood rot.
You can paint a roof, but keep in mind that the material of the roof matters. You can paint asphalt shingles, metal sheeting, concrete, slate, and clay tiles, but terra-cotta roof tiles have a glaze that prevents paint from binding to the surface properly, even with specialized roof shingle paint.
Pros of Painting Roof Shingles
With the realization that you can paint shingles, it’s also important to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of painting a roof. Several great reasons for painting roof shingles include an instant update to the appearance, extension of the roof’s lifespan, and the low cost of this DIY project.
Instant Visual Update
Often the most attractive reason for painting the roof is that you can quickly make a home’s appearance more appealing. While asphalt shingles can look good when paired with certain exteriors, they don’t necessarily match the aesthetic of every house. With that in mind, painting your shingles is a great way to instantly update the look of your home.
Extended Roof Lifespan
As long as you choose the correct shingle paint, which should be specifically marketed as a high-quality acrylic latex paint intended for painting asphalt shingles, then a layer or two of paint can help improve UV radiation resistance. It also provides a protective layer to help reduce wear over time.
Reshingling the roof is the usual way to change its appearance, but a much more affordable method for updating a home’s look is to simply paint the shingles. Purchasing the paint, renting a paint sprayer, and painting the roof yourself are significantly less expensive than the cost of reshingling the roof.
Cons of Painting Roof Shingles
Any home can get a quick, affordable face-lift by painting the roof shingles, but it’s important to first understand the drawbacks and risks associated with this work. This can include increased roof maintenance, risk of wood rot, and the roofing paint’s inability to repair existing cracks or leaks.
After painting your roof, you need to regularly inspect the shingles to ensure that the paint isn’t peeling. You should plan to inspect a painted roof at least once a year and touch up any areas where the paint has bubbled, chipped, or peeled. If you live in an area that receives long periods of intense sunlight or significant rainfall, then it’s likely that the roof paint will deteriorate at a faster pace than painted shingles in a more balanced climate.
It all comes down to the type of paint you use and proper application. Acrylic latex paint specifically made for roof shingles is a must, as is ensuring that the shingles, underlayment, and sheathing are completely dry before application. If these requirements aren’t met there is a high risk that the paint will trap moisture inside the roof layers, leading to mold and mildew growth as well as wood rot.
Not a Substitute for Repair
A quick color change is a great way to help improve the appearance of your home, but it’s important to note that painting the roof doesn’t do anything to repair any existing damage. The paint cannot seal cracks in the shingles or patch leaks in the roof, and it isn’t an effective defense against serious forms of roof damage. If your roof is damaged, it needs to be repaired properly before you can paint the shingles.
Painting shingles won’t repair underlying roof problems.
As mentioned above, painting roof shingles will not fix any serious problems, such as cracked or broken shingles, roof rot, or leaks. Before deciding to paint the roof, consider having a roof inspection completed to determine if there are any severe issues that need to be resolved. Asphalt shingles have an average lifespan of about 15 to 20 years, so if the shingles on the roof are nearing this age, it may be best to replace the shingles instead of painting them.
If you do decide to paint your roof, check for any minor damage and make repairs beforehand. By ensuring the roof is in good condition, you can be confident that the paint won’t exacerbate any existing problems.
It’s imperative to select the right paint for the job.
Find an acrylic latex paint that is specifically marketed as roofing paint like this option available at The Home Depot. If you aren’t sure, check with the paint manufacturer or discuss your options with an experienced retail employee to be sure you find the right product for painting asphalt shingles.
Related: How to Measure a Roof for Shingles
Top 5 Tips for Successfully Painting Asphalt Roof Shingles
Tackling this project is definitely possible for experienced DIYers who are comfortable working at heights. However, it’s important to proceed carefully to ensure that the roof won’t just look good, but that it will also gain a level of resistance against UV radiation without creating a moisture trap. To this end, here are five key tips to help you paint your roof shingles with minimal hassle.
- Repair any damaged shingles, clean the roof, and allow it to dry completely before painting for the best results.
- Painting the roof white or another highly reflective color can lower cooling costs during the warmer months of the year.
- Rent or purchase a paint sprayer to get a thick, even application of paint across the entire roof surface.
- Set up multiple drop cloths to protect the house, yard, and surrounding foliage from the paint.
- To reduce the risk of injury or death due to slipping off a ladder or the roof, always work with a partner and proper fall arrest safety equipment.