Can You Paint a Metal Roof?

Metal roofs are trendy today because they’re super durable, long-lasting, and visually appealing. They can enhance your home’s curb appeal considerably or add a layer of sustainability to help you conserve energy and help the environment. But what if you don’t like the metal color? Can you paint a metal roof?

The short answer is yes; you can paint a metal roof. However, the process must be done right for the best results. The steps you take may also vary based on the metal type and whether any rust is present, so you might consider hiring a professional painter.

In this article, we’ll show you the steps you need to prepare and paint your metal roof. We even add in some of the best paints to use on your metal roof.

Can You Paint a Metal Roof

Can You Paint a Metal Roof?

Yes, you can paint a metal roof. It’s an excellent way to add beauty and sustainability to your home. But you must do it the right way. If you have a new, unpainted metal roof, you must allow it to weather for at least six months before painting it.

Is painting a metal roof a good idea for you? If you have a metal roof with cracked or peeling paint, it’s time to repaint. Most people repaint their metal roofs every 10 years or so. You can even paint your metal roof if you feel tired of the color.

However, painting a metal roof is a challenging job. It takes a considerable amount of time, and because the job must be done right, you may want to hire professional painters to tackle the work. If you’re up for the challenge, make sure to purchase the right type of paint and plan your project ahead of time for the best results.

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

While many colors and paint types are available, choosing the right product for your project will produce the best results. Metal paint is typically the best type to use on a roof. However, metal roofing comes in zinc, tin, steel, aluminum, rib metal, and more, so the paint you purchase may also depend on the surface.

Acrylic latex paint works well for bare metal roofs or repainting over old paint coats. Some historical homes have terne metal roofs that require oil-based paint. Galvanized roof paints are normally acrylic-based. Another option is to use a galvanized metal primer with oil-based alkyd paint. Sherwin Williams metal roof paint is a popular choice that’s more general.

The type of paint you purchase may depend on your metal type or the benefits you hope to gain from painting the roof. For example, energy-efficient paints reflect heat and sunlight. They also help protect your roof from leaks. There are also paints with insect repellent capabilities, fire resistance, water resistance, etc.

You may also need to check on any painting regulations with your homeowner’s association. Depending on where you live, you may have rules about the colors you can use.

Never use leftover paint from another project on your roof. Metal roofing requires a specific paint type. Reach out to a paint professional or your local hardware store if you need help finding the right paint.

What Are the Benefits of Painting Metal Roofs?

Painting metal roof

Metal roofing offers many benefits for your home. Here are the top three perks people love about painting their metal roofs.

Longer Lifespan

Although metal already brings a longer lifespan than other common roofing types, like asphalt shingles, painting a metal roof adds even further longevity. Whether you have an old or new metal roof on your house, painting the surface can increase the lifespan.


A painted metal roof can make your house more energy-efficient when done right. Metal roofs are the go-to choice for sustainability and reducing the average energy cost. It works because lightly colored and reflective metal reduces the heat island effect, where heat radiates back into the atmosphere from your roof and causes urban areas to become hotter.

For the best energy savings, go with high-quality metal roofing. It lasts twice as long as other materials, and most steel roofs are recyclable when they reach the end of their lifespan.

Enhanced Aesthetic

Fresh paint boosts your home’s exterior aesthetic, and there are many paint colors to choose from when it comes to metal. You could match your roof to any home’s exterior, no matter the color you choose.

What Is the Best Time to Paint a Tin Roof?

Timing is everything when it comes to painting metal roofing. Because metal roofs become extremely hot in the summer, it’s important to plan your painting project on the right day.

Select a nice, fair-weather day in the fall or spring for the best results. Working on a roof in the winter can be tricky, and rainy days are equally challenging for painting. Always avoid painting in the rain.

You may also need to plan much further ahead than you may have thought if the metal is brand-new. If you have a new, unpainted metal roof, wait at least six months before painting. The metal must weather during this time.

How to Paint a Metal Roof

How to Paint a Metal Roof

Here is everything you need to know about painting a metal roof.

How to Work on Your Roof Safely

There is a layer of inherent risk when working on roofing projects, Make sure to prepare the necessary materials to work safely. Follow these tips while painting:

Buddy System

DIY doesn’t mean you have to complete the project completely by yourself. Safety is more important, so use the buddy system! Ask a friend to help you complete the job and thank them afterward by buying them a beer or pizza for their effort.

Use Ladders

It’s safer to work from a ladder or scaffolding than to stand on the roof and paint. Always use an extended ladder as much as possible. Lean the ladder against the side of your house, and remember to keep it away from power lines and doors.

While painting, avoid extending your reach to paint far-away areas. Keep both feet firmly planted on a ladder rung, and hold onto the side of the ladder with your free hand at all times.

Wear a Harness

If you do head onto the roof, put on a harness. You can find both at a home improvement store. Anchor the harness to a tree or another stable part of your house using a safety rope. That way, if you fall, the harness can catch you.

Tools and Materials

Ahead of painting, make sure to prepare the right tools and materials for the job. Here’s what tools you need to collect:

  • Power washer
  • Scrub brush
  • TSP cleaner
  • Paint rollers, brushes, or a sprayer
  • Rust-inhibitive metal primer
  • Topcoat in desired paint color
  • Ladders or scaffolding
  • Wire brush, wheel, or sandpaper
  • Putty knife or scraper (optional)

Step 1: Prepare the Roof

Before you get up on your roof and start painting, there are a few things you need to do to prepare the surface.

Removing the Old Paint

Remove any existing paint from your roof before applying new paint. You can use a putty knife or a scraper to remove loose paint by pressing the tool firmly against the surface. Just be careful not to cause damage to the metal underneath. Skip any portions where the paint seems to be in good shape. You can paint over these patches easily.

Cleaning the Surface

Next, wash the roof. The primer and paint stick better to a clean surface, as debris and dirt can get in the way. Remove any dirt, debris, mildew, or anything that could be leftover from the original paint job.

Can you use a pressure washer on a metal roof or do you need to hand clean the surface? You can use a power washer for quick clean-up. A power washer even helps remove any peeling paint you may have missed. Plus, a jet power wash only takes a few minutes. Allow the roof to dry for at least an hour before beginning the painting process.

Even if your roof is new and unpainted, you must wash away any remaining oils and other remains from the galvanizing process before you start. White vinegar is a powerful, natural option for this task.

You can rent a power washer from your local home improvement store if you don’t already have one. If a power washer is completely unavailable, you can use a garden hose on a strong setting. The result from a garden hose isn’t as effective, but it still cleans the roof.

Selecting Your Products

Before starting painting, you must purchase the right primers, paints, and sealants for the job. Select a primer made for metal and a paint type that matches up with the metal type of your roof. Make sure to read the instructions ahead of time to ensure you use the products correctly. The label should include the expected dry time as well.

Step 2: Remove Any Rust

Take a close look at the entire roof once you have removed any old paint, checking for rust. Old metal is likely to have a few patches of rust. If your metal roof has no rust, you can skip this step.

But if your roof features a bit of rust, you’ll need to remove it. Start by using your putty knife to scrape them away. This works well for small patches. Larger areas or stubborn rust may require scrubbing them using vinegar or other rust solutions.

Step 3: Scruff the Roof

Lightly scuff the metal surface to help the primer and paint better adhere. You can use a wire brush or wheel, or go with 80-120 grit sandpaper for a smaller roof.

Step 4: Apply the Primer

If you skip the primer, the paint will quickly peel from your metal roof. Add a thick, single coating of primer to the entire surface of your roof using a paint roller or brush. Stand on the ladder while applying the primer for safety, moving onto the roof for areas that are hard to reach only. Leave the primer to dry for an hour or more. The weather may affect dry time.

Step 5: Layer on the Paint

When the primer is dry, it’s time to finally paint. Apply the first coat to the entire surface of the roof, wait at least an hour or more for it to dry, then apply a final coat.

To apply the paint, you can use a paint roller and brushes or a sprayer. A paint sprayer can reach higher or steeped metal roofs with ease. On the other hand, rollers and brushes are designed to work well with corrugated metal. Both are quick options that provide excellent coverage in only a few coats.

You can even find rollers with a long handle at a home improvement store to make the job easier. This way, you can reach further while standing on the ladder.

At least one final coat of paint helps to further protect the roof. Try applying the final coat from varying positions than the first coat to hit spots you may have missed the first time. Two coats are all you typically need for a metal roof. However, you can apply an additional cost if the color doesn’t seem rich or dark enough.

Do Metal Roofs Fade in Color?

Do Metal Roofs Fade in Color

Roofs suffer under outside conditions over time. Harsh sunlight and heavy rains can cause metal roofs to fade in color. It’s recommended that you repaint to freshen up the color about every 10 years.

What Color Metal Roof Is the Coolest?

What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold metal roofs, of course.

If you’re looking for a color that will help your metal roof remain cool all year round, go with a light color, such as white, beige, light bronze, peach, light green, or light blue. The color you choose does affect the overall look and feel of your home.

A light color on your roof can protect your home from heat and lower your monthly energy expenses by 20 to 30%, which even lightens a load of your AC system in the summer. If your home is in a cooler climate or you have remarkable insulation, dark colors won’t impact your energy performance much.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Metal Roof?

The cost of painting a metal roof varies. If you hire a roof painter, you may pay anywhere from $1.20 to $2.72 per square foot. The national average for painting a metal roof is $2,312.

Doing the work yourself is the cheaper option. However, you may pay more in the long run if the work is not done correctly.

Best Paint for Metal Roofing

With many incredible paint options for metal roofing, you must select the best one for your metal type and project. Otherwise, you may not have the best results. Here are our top picks for metal roofing.

Rubber Seal Liquid Rubber Waterproofing and Protective Coating

Rubberseal Liquid Rubber Waterproofing and Protective Coating - Roll On White (1 Gallon, White)If you want to use a paint roller for your project, go with Rubberseal Liquid Rubber. The product helps control moisture and UV exposure, allowing your paint job to last for years to come.

This EPA energy star-rated option even resists aging. It’s a highly durable, long-lasting choice.

What makes it so perfect for a metal roof is the brilliant white color and the solar reflective abilities, which can keep your house cool on the hottest of summer days. Another awesome feature is that the paint is simple to apply with a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer.

Henry HE587372 Roof Coating

Henry HE587372 Roof Coating, 5 GalHenry Roof Coating is an elastomeric, premium roof coating with a 10-year warranty. The coating helps fight off peeling, solar reflection and even offers weather protection.

After drying, the layer becomes a permeable membrane that prevents liquids from infiltrating over time. The unique feature also prevents peeling, making the paint highly durable and sustainable.

The only downside is that you may need to apply two to three layers for maximum protection. If you don’t live in an area where the elements, like harsh sun and heat, are a factor for you, you may not need the added features this paint offers.

Can You Paint Galvanized Metal Roofing?

Yes, you can even paint galvanized metal. You can use acrylic-based or acrylic latex paint for most metal roofing, including galvanized metal. However, it’s crucial that you clean the metal thoroughly before painting or it may not adhere well.

Best Paint for Corrugated Metal Roof

An acrylic-based paint is a top choice for a corrugated metal roof. While there are many paint options on the market, here is the best option.

STA-Kool Traditional Acrylic Elastomeric Roof Coating

STA-Kool SK-7705 Traditional Acrylic Elastomeric Roof Coating, 5 Gallon (Pack of 1), White, 640 Fl OzSTA-Kool Traditional Acrylic Elastomeric Roof Coating is the best choice for a corrugated metal roof.

The acrylic paint pairs well with the metal, and the elastomeric feature (plus the white color) of the paint helps keep the roof cool and energy-efficient. The five-gallon bucket is a fantastic size option for painting roofing as well.

However, expect to apply at least two coats of paint. A corrugated metal roof tends to need a second coat, and this paint is thinner than others on the market.

Is it Cheaper to Paint or Replace a Metal Roof?

Replacing a metal roof can cost around $17,000, depending on the metal type and the size of your home. However, painting a metal roof costs much less. The exact price depends on the size of your roof and if you plan to pay a professional painter or do the work yourself. However, the average price to paint a metal roof is only a fraction of the price.

Maintenance Tips for Metal Roofs

One of the biggest selling points for metal roofs is that they require minimal maintenance. However, you can extend the life of your metal roof by several years if you take care of it. Use the following tips to keep your metal roof looking its best over the long term.

Tip 1

Clean your metal roof once every six months or so to keep it looking and performing at its best. Use a gentle detergent to remove dirt and debris before it can penetrate the paint or cause the metal to rust.

Tip 2

Treat any bald spots in the paint or early signs of damage immediately. By keeping the paint job smooth and flawless, you can keep the roof from peeling or rusting.

How Long Does Painted Metal Roofing Last?

Metal roofs fade over time. The pigment of the paint breaks down from substances in the environment like water, sun, pollution, etc. Painted metal roofing typically lasts for around 10 years. Some metal roofs come with a 30-year paint warranty. Acrylic or oil-based paint coatings may last only around five years.


With all the information you need, it’s time to start painting. Whether you have a new or old metal roof, the painting has multiple benefits. Not unlike some other painting-related household projects, you must make sure you paint a metal roof the correct way. Otherwise, your hard work will peel off in no time and you’ll have to repeat the process over again.

If you enjoyed learning how to paint a metal roof, we’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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