Over time, shingled roofs can look pretty drab and outdated. Not only that, black asphalt shingles get extremely hot in summer, driving up your energy bills. That leads many people to question whether painting their shingles is possible. The good news is, not only can you paint roof shingles, many people actually should!
Painting the shingles on your roof, when done correctly, will help extend the life of the roof and can drastically lower your energy bill. Plus, the new color will add some aesthetic value to the home. Make sure, though, to use the correct paint to avoid damaging the shingles!
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and risks of painting roof shingles, how to do it properly, the kinds of paint to use, and more!
Can You Paint Roof Shingles?
While the simple answer is that you can paint roof shingles and experience some great benefits, this question deserves more time. Here are some pros and cons of shingle painting:
Benefits of Painting Shingles
Longer Roof Life
Your roof will likely last longer if you paint the shingles. The paint forms a protective coating over the shingles, shielding them from falling debris. A well-installed shingle roof can last upwards of 25 years, but even one bad storm can kill the roof instantly. By painting the roof, you might be able to get a few more years out of it!
Lowered Energy Consumption
Perhaps the biggest benefit of painting your roof is lower energy bills. Certain colors reflect sunlight, rather than absorb it. Black asphalt shingles, just like asphalt roadways, soak up sunlight like a sponge. If you live in a hot climate, a black asphalt roof will continuously warm your home, driving your cooling bill up.
In places that experience hot summers and cold winters, such as the American mid-south, clay tiles roofs aren’t very common. Painting your roof a cooler color is a great way to beat the heat in summer without breaking the bank. Short of installing a brand-new clay tile roof, painting is one of the few things you can do about the heat.
White, you’ll remember from grade school, is the color that is the reflection of all other colors. Black, on the other hand, absorbs all colors. This means white-painted shingle roofs will reflect sunlight rather than absorb it, and heat will do the same. Lighter hues of other colors, like light blues, grays, yellows, and greens also do a great job of reflecting sunlight.
The savings you’ll experience are pretty significant, white roofs can reflect up to 90% of the heat present in sunlight, meaning your home’s air conditioning system will be doing far less work. By comparison, a black or dark gray asphalt shingle roof only reflects 4% of the sun’s heat – the rest of it seeps into your home!
This is also great for the environment because it lowers your home’s carbon footprint. On a large scale, white roofs create “cooling cities” that mitigate the widespread heating effect that cities experience.
It Simply Looks Better
Finally, painting your roof shingles can be a good idea just for aesthetic value. In neighborhoods full of simple black roofs, a nice coat of paint can set your home apart! In fact, I grew up in a house that had a green roof, and all I ever had to tell my friends was the name of my street and the color of my roof!
The Disadvantages of Painting Roof Shingles
Painting your roof shingles means that you will have to do more regular roof maintenance than you would with unpainted shingles. Paint doesn’t hold up to the elements as well as bare shingles, so you might notice the paint fade or chip every few years. While it does extend the life of the roof overall, the paint that makes up the top coating isn’t impervious.
So, once every five to seven years, you’ll likely be back up on the roof, repainting! Unless you only have to do minor touchups, that means stripping all the paint. Then, you’ll have to check for any shingles that need repaired or replaced before priming and painting the roof. That’s a lot of extra work, just to have your roof be a different color!
Roof Painting is Hard Work
Lastly, painting your roof shingles can be a hassle all the way around. Working on a roof pitch is dangerous and requires lots of safety equipment. It makes more sense to hire a professional contractor to do the job for you, and that can get very expensive, very quickly.
Some people will try to paint their roof shingles themselves, but it’s tough to do this correctly. Choosing the right paint is of the utmost importance, and the actual painting requires great attention to detail. This leads some people to decide against painting their roof because it feels as though it’s just too much work.
What Kind of Paint To Use
Asphalt shingles are the most common roof type in the United States. You can paint asphalt shingles, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you can head up the ladder with the same paint that’s in your spare bedroom. If you want to paint your roof shingles, you need 100% acrylic latex paint.
Clay and wood shingles can also be painted with 100% acrylic latex paint. The paint will bond tight to the shingles and keep them looking – and performing – great! Truthfully, the type of paint used matters far more than the type of shingles it is used on! The paint needs to be able to resist years of sunlight beating down on it, as well as repeated exposure to moisture.
If you don’t use appropriate paint, you will damage the roof more than you help it. Waterproof paints, though they sound like a good idea, can actually prevent moisture that’s already inside the roof from drying. In the long-term, this can lead to rot that destroys the entire roof! So, make sure you’ve got the right paint before breaking out your roller trays!
How Much Does It Cost to Paint Shingles?
If you’re doing the job yourself, you can expect to spend at least 500 dollars to paint your roof. This includes the cost of paint, primer, rollers, and other equipment. If you have a larger-than-average roof, that price will climb quickly!
A gallon of roof paint will cost between $30 and $40 and cover roughly 400 square feet. Good rollers and paint trays will cost another $60-$100, depending on what you choose. Toss in a few hundred more to buy a ladder and roof harness/rope if you need them.
Paying a contractor to paint your roof for you varies pretty widely. On average, though, a professional roof painting costs $2,500-$4,500. The best way to price this out is to contact several local contractors and get estimates. They need to factor in things like surface area, roof pitch, cleaning, and repairs – and construction/home improvement rates are tied closely to local economies!
How to Paint Roof Shingles
Painting your roof is time-consuming, but the steps are actually rather simple! After checking the forecast for a dry period, follow this basic step-by-step for painting your roof shingles:
- Inspect the Roof: Odds are, in the time since your roof was installed, it has taken minor damage from storms, as well as some wear and tear. You won’t be able to fix these issues after you paint; in fact, painting over bad shingles is essentially wasting good paint because it will fall off anyway!
- Repair/Replace Bad Shingles: Now is the time to replace any shingles that are too damaged to paint over. This includes the presence of mold or mildew. If your roof is relatively new, you should be able to skip this step.
- Clean the Roof: If you own a pressure washer, now is the time to use it! Make sure there is no dirt buildup and blast away any algae that’s started to form. Having a spotless roof is essential to the paint’s longevity! If you can, lay down plastic in your attic in case any water makes it through the roof. High pressure can sometimes seep through, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Seal/Prime: Roll on a coat of water-based primer and sealer. Let the primer dry completely before painting.
- Use thick Rollers: 1-inch nap rollers are much thicker than normal indoor rollers and will help you adequately coat the rough shingles.
- Work Bottom-to-Top: Start at the bottom of the roof and work vertically, then left-right. If you start at the top, all the paint drips will build on top of each other, cascading down and making a giant mess. Working bottom-to-top helps you manage paint drips and get an even, neat coat.
- Don’t Paint Too Thick: Shingled roofs aren’t supposed to be monolithic. Painting too thick will bond all the shingles to each other when they actually need to be able to move a bit. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your paint needs to be ¼-inch thick! This is important for roof maintenance. You want the paint to cover the shingles, not replace them. You want to be able to repair individual shingles without removing the paint from the entire roof.
- Paint 2-3 Coats: Apply at least two coats to your roof, three if you feel that it needs it. Let the roof dry completely between each coating. In the summer, with lots of solar heat, it could take only a couple of hours for each coat to dry. In the spring, with less sun, it may take all day!
- Inspect Semi-Regularly: as mentioned, you should give your roof a close look after every major storm, and every 12-18 months. If there were any mistakes made in the painting process, you’ll notice them pretty quickly, and it’s important to fix them before they grow and spread!
- Do Touch-Ups: If you notice that an area, even a lone shingle, is starting to fade or chip take care of it immediately. It’s best to strip the paint from the problem area, reprime and repaint, replacing shingles if needed.
- Don’t Kid Yourself: It’s tempting to convince yourself that minor problems in your painted shingle roof are nothing to worry about, but they spread quickly. If the paint starts to fade, don’t ignore it! The truth is, roof paint doesn’t last forever, and deciding to paint your roof means committing to regularly touching it up and repairing it!
Alternative Route: Hire a Contractor
Painting your roof shingles isn’t easy or quick, so many people opt to hire a contractor to get the job done for them. There are some advantages to going this route, too, besides just saving time. A roofing contractor can use elastomeric spray paint, which applies more evenly and lasts longer than the paints you will have access to as a homeowner.
Best Paint/Supplies for Roof Shingles
Finding a good paint for roof shingles is essential and so is getting the right equipment. Here are some of the most widely trusted roof paints, as well as the painting and safety equipment you need:
1. Behr Multi-Surface Roof Paint
Behr Multi-Surface Roof Paint is one of the few paints specifically designed to be used on roofs. It’s perfect for this application because it resists mildew and won’t fade even in intense sunlight. It adheres to asphalt and other types of shingles, and you can have it tinted in a variety of different colors.
The only caveat to this paint is that it is sold exclusively at Home Depot, and not every location carries it. If you can get your hands on it or have it ordered for you, it is an amazing paint to use on your roof! It only costs about $0.36/sq. ft, very affordable for paint that will last for years.
2. Sherwin-Williams Kool Seal Premium Roof Paint
Sherwin-Williams, one of North America’s largest paint manufacturers, also makes high-quality roof paint. A big advantage of using this paint is that Sherwin-Williams has a large number of local stores where an expert can help you choose a color and place an order. It’s nice to deal with a local franchise that has lots of expertise, especially with a highly specific item like roof paint.
You can order online and have the paint delivered right to your door or have someone help you in-store. Just like the Behr roof paint, the Kool Seal is mildew resistant and holds up well against UV rays. It runs about a dollar per square foot of paint, but it holds up well so it should be worth the expense!
Essential Roof Painting Supplies
- 1-inch Nap Rollers(4-8): Thicker rollers work better on rough surfaces like shingles.
- Roller Frames and Extender Poles (2): Extenders help you move/stoop less and paint more!
- Paint Trays: Find deep paint trays that won’t spill easily when tilted. You can even get paint trays that attach to your ladder!
- Harness: In some localities, harnesses and ropes are required for working on roofs safely; even when they aren’t required, they are always a good idea!
- Roofing Shoes: Avoid nasty slips and falls with water-resistant, traction shoes.
How Long Does Roof Paint Last?
It’s tough to provide a definitive answer to this question, but the longest that roof paint will last is about 8 years. Around the five-year mark, you might start to notice fading on your painted roof. Since asphalt tiles have tiny granules on the surface, they fall off from time to time. When your roof is painted, this leaves the roof looking blotchy and faded.
You should give your roof a good once-over every 12-18 months or after any storm that may have caused damage. If you notice that it’s looking worse for wear, begin prepping to repaint. The only way to know when to repaint is by observing; however, generally, repainting happens every 5-7 years.
If you want to keep your home cool in summer without spending a fortune on A/C, you can paint your roof shingles. Painting your roof isn’t easy, and there are some drawbacks like constant maintenance and moisture issues. However, for most people, the pros of roof painting far outweigh the cons! Have you decided to paint your own shingles? Do you have experience from a roof painting project you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!