Can You Paint Roof Shingles? (Read Before Staining Asphalt!)

Is your roof looking a little worse from wear?

If so, you might be tempted to give it a fresh coat of paint. After all, it’s a somewhat affordable way to make your home look new again. But, can you paint roof shingles? Especially asphalt ones? Before you grab that paintbrush and start pretending you’re Picasso with a roof as your canvas, consider this:

Painting roofing shingles is not usually worth the trouble. In most cases, you’ll end up with a less-than-stellar result, and could even damage your roof and void the shingle warranty in the process. Reputable roofing contractors and shingle manufacturers do not recommend painting asphalt roof shingles.

But it’s your home! So below we’ll outline the pros and cons of roof painting, and if you choose to ignore the experts, how to paint your roof and all costs associated with the project.

Factors To Consider Before Shingle Painting

close up of painter painting asphalt roof shingles being painted with brush, a painter on roof painting asphalt shingles
Painting your asphalt shingles is as ridiculous as it looks

You may wish to alter the color of your roof for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you’ve recently moved into a new house and aren’t crazy about the color combination when compared to your vinyl siding, or perhaps your roof is showing its age and you want to apply some makeup to it. Whatever the case may be, painting your roof shingles is a major choice with significant downsides. Let’s review some of the factors you need to consider before making your decision.

The Climate In Your Area

One of the most important things to consider before painting your roof is the climate in your area. If you live in an area with a lot of sun and heat, the paint will likely fade quickly. The harsh UV rays from the sun can also cause the paint to deteriorate, which means you’ll have to repaint more often.

If you live in a climate with lots of moisture, the paint can also peel and chip more easily. It can also trap in the moisture, leading to excessive mildew growth.

Age of Your Shingle Roof

If your roof is newer, it’s likely in better condition and will be able to withstand being painted. If this is the case, you still need to be careful because your warranty will be impacted. However, if your roof is older, it may not be able to handle the additional stress that painting will put on it.

Most people looking to paint their shingles have an older roof that is starting to show its age. In this case, you need to be especially careful about the type of paint you use and how you prepare the surface. If you don’t do it right, you could end up doing more damage to your roof.

Why You Want To Paint

The main reason people want to paint their roof is to change the color. This can be a good reason, but you need to keep in mind that the new color will likely fade over time. If you’re looking to completely change the look of your home, painting the shingles may not be the best option and exterior remodeling experts will recommend that you just replace the entire roof using a reputable roofing contractor.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint Shingles?

You’ll want to purchase a quality acrylic paint. You may be able to find a cheaper paint, but it likely won’t last as long.

One gallon of the right paint will cover approximately 100 square feet of roof surface. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need a primer and two coats of paint for the best results. All told, painting your roof could cost around $1,000.

Why You Shouldn’t Paint Asphalt Shingles

man crossing his arms with paint cans in the background telling you do not paint your asphalt shingles
If this gentleman doesn’t convince you not to paint your roof, nothing will.

Yes, you can paint your roof shingles to change the color of your roof, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. There are critical downsides to consider before starting the project.

Time Consuming

This has nothing to do with negative effects to your home’s structure but painting your roof is a tedious home improvement project, especially if you can’t convince any friends to help you and are doing it yourself. It can take several weekends to complete the job, and you’ll likely have to rent a ladder or scaffolding to reach the highest parts of your roof. If you choose this route, make sure you plan for weather (covered below).

Dangerous

Getting up on your roof without experience or the proper safety equipment can be dangerous. Every year, people fall from roofs no matter how careful they are. If you’re not comfortable with heights, it’s best to leave this project to the professionals.

Extra Maintenance

If you do paint the shingles, you’ll lock yourself into a bi-yearly maintenance schedule to keep the paint looking good. This means you’ll have to repaint every few years, which can be a hassle and is an extra cost you need to factor into the price you’d save against just replacing the roof with a color shingle you enjo

Moisture Problems

If you live in an area with a lot of moisture, it’s best not to paint your roof. The paint can peel and chip more easily in these conditions, which means you’ll have to repaint more often. The paint sealing around the asphalt locks in moisture, which can also cause the shingles to deteriorate and fall off much faster.

Reduced Shingle Lifespan

If you do decide to paint your shingles, be prepared for a reduced lifespan. Most types of asphalt shingles are only meant to last 20-30 years even if you have a 40 or 50 year warranty. If you paint them, you can expect to replace them sooner because of the moisture problems and other damage from the painting process.

Voided Warranty

Critical! Most asphalt shingles come with a 20, 30, or even a 50 year “lifetime” warranty, but these warranties are voided if you paint the shingles. Even limited roof warranties say you can’t paint the shingle. This may not be a big deal if your roof is near the end of it’s lifespan, but if you have a newer roof, you could be out of luck if you have any problems down the road.

Difficult To Paint Evenly

It is not easy to paint shingles with a consistent coating, which means there’s a high likelihood that the end result is uneven or streaky finish. This is especially true if you’re going the DIY path. If you want a professional-looking paint job, it’s best to hire a professional painting company with experience painting roofs in your local area.

Benefits of Painting Roof Shingles

Lowered Energy Consumption (Minor)

One of the benefits of painting your roof is that it can slightly lower your energy consumption, though how much money a cool roof color saves you is debatable.

Does painting your roof white help with energy efficiency?

The color of a material is called reflectance or transmittance. Black shingles have a lower reflectance, which means they will absorb more heat than white colored shingles.

According to the Yale University of The Environment, “the systematic replacement of dark surfaces with white could lower heat wave maximum temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius or more.”

This means that a white roof will absorb less heat, which can lead to lower energy consumption in the summer months. But the savings are so low that they will likely not be noticed when you pay your power bill and will certainly not offset the total cost of painting a roof for the sole purpose of making it more energy-efficient.

Is a lighter roof color more energy efficient?

Yes, a lighter roof color is more energy efficient, but not by much.

A white or light-colored roof will reflect more sunlight than a black or dark-colored roof and, as a result, will be cooler in the summer. This can potentially lead to lower energy consumption for cooling your home, but the actual amount is around 2% at the most. And even if this is the case, any savings are offset by lowered heating costs in the winter because the darker shingles will theoretically help warm the house during that time of year.

Temporarily Covers Up An Ugly Old Roof

If you’re not ready to replace your roof but want to improve the look of your home, painting the shingles is a temporary solution. This can be a good idea if you’re trying to sell your home and want to increase the curb appeal.

However, many certified home inspectors will note that the roof has been painted and this could be a potential issue for buyers. The buyers will know that they’ll either need to repaint every few years, or replace the roof completely.

Choose The Roof Color You Want Without Roof Replacement

One of the benefits of painting your roof is that you can choose any color you want, without having to entirely replace the shingles. Go with a black roof, a white roof, a green roof, or even a blue roof. It’s your house! This can be a good way to add some personality to your home and make it stand out from the rest of the neighborhood. However, re-roofing your house with a sharp new shingle color would have the same impact.

The Pros Aren’t Worth The Cons (Most Of The Time)

In general, it’s best to avoid painting your roof tiles unless you have a specific reason for doing so. The cons significantly outweigh the pros, and you could end up causing more harm than good. If you’re still set on painting your roof, then make sure to follow the steps later on this page.

When Is Roof Painting Is Worth It?

All factors considered, roof painting is only worth it if you have an old roof that you want to make look nicer for a year or two, and if you get a reasonable price for the project that makes it worthwhile for you in the short term. As long as you understand the drawbacks, then go for it! If you follow the steps below, you can avoid most of the potential problems that always pop up within the 1-2 years after painting.

Fortunately for home owners caught in the middle, there are alternatives to shingle painting that will change the way your roof looks without the damage.

Alternative Ways To Change Your Roof’s Color

If you trust the experts and don’t want to paint your roof, then you have two other options. No pressure!

Roof being low pressure washed, altered to show the radiant light differences of before wash+ post-wash

Soft Roof Washing

One popular option is to have your roof professionally cleaned using the soft wash method. Soft washing or low pressure washing is a power washing method that uses low pressure and detergent to clean surfaces. It’s a popular way to improve the aesthetic of your home by getting rid of algae, lichen, and other types of fungus.

Soft wash roof cleaning will remove any dirt, grime, or moss that has built up over the years, and the lack of plant growth and dirt can make a big difference in your home’s appearance. The nice thing about this option is that it’s relatively inexpensive compared to replacement yet still comparable to the price of a painting project. A wash won’t last as long as a new roof, but it’ll be less expensive and won’t require repainting every few years.

Complete Roof Replacement

If you’re looking to paint your roof, it’s likely because there’s something wrong.  In most cases, the best solution is to just replace the roof. This is the most expensive option, but it will also be the longest-lasting and will provide the most protection for your home.

If you’d like a quote for roof replacement in your email inbox within the next 3 hours, start your online roof quote process with Roof Hub now.

How to Paint Roof Shingles (If You Must…)

You sure you want to do this? If you must paint those poor asphalt shingles up on top of your house, then at least follow these guidelines.

Buying The Best Paint For Asphalt Roofing

If you’re determined to paint your roof, then you need to purchase the best paint for asphalt roofing that money can buy. This is not the time to skimp on quality, because you want the paint to last as long as possible. Below are a few things to look for when choosing a roof paint.

Get your roof size for paint coverage

One gallon of paint will cover about 200 square feet, so make sure to calculate your roof size so you know how much paint you’ll need before you head to the local hardware store.

Choose a light colors

If you’re going to go against expert advice anyway, then you mind as well choose a light color like white, beige, or light grey so you can get the approximate 2% reduction in heat absorbsion.

What kind of paint do you use on roof shingles?

You’ll want to use an acrylic paint specifically designed for asphalt shingles. These are usually water-based paints, and they will last longer and adhere better than other types of paint. You can find paints used on roofs at your local hardware store like Home Depot, Lowes, or Ace Hardware.

How do you prep asphalt shingles for painting?

In order to get the most out of this potentially world-shattering painting process, you’ll need to prep your asphalt shingles first. The best way to do this is to clean them.

Clean debris

You’ll need to power wash your shingles before painting them to remove the excess dirt and plant life that has built up over the years. You can either rent a power washer or hire a professional to do it for you. We recommend you go with a powerwashing company familiar with the soft wash method because using a high pressure machine will remove granuals from your shingles and make them structurally weaker.

This is also a good opportunity to see if you like how your roof looks after the washing. You may love the appearance and want to stop here and skip the painting all-together.

Choose a week with no rain in the forecast

It’s important to choose a week without precipitation in the forecast so your paint has time to dry and cure properly. The last thing you want is for your masterpiece to be ruined by a sudden rain shower. Starting over isn’t fun!

Stop and assess

At this stage you may be thinking, why would I go through all this work when I can just replace my roof? We hear you, but we also know that sometimes people just want to paint the thing.  Once you start painting, you’re locked in to either finishing your work of art or replacing the roof entirely. So stop and reflect, then choose wisely.

You’re really gonna paint it, aren’t you…

If you’ve decided to move forward, then congratulations! You’re in for a fun few weeks of going up ladders, down ladders, priming, painting, more ladders, and re-painting all while you pray to the weather gods that it won’t rain. Now, just follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to a completed project.

Painting Your Shingles

Now that everything is cleaned and prepped, you can grab your tools and begin creating the work of art you’e committed to.

Prime the surface

Use a paint primer specifically designed for asphalt shingles. This will help the paint to last longer and adhere better. If you don’t prime the area first, you’re asking for trouble.

Start with a small section

The popular construction saying is to “measure twice, cut once”. In painting, the saying is “measure twice, paint once.” Starting with a small section that isn’t visible from the ground ensures that you’re comfortable with the process and that the finished product looks as intended before moving on.

Where to paint first

Can you paint roof shingles by hand? Yes, you could do the whole roof with a brush but it could take you a decade to finish. You’ll want to start painting at the top of your roof and work your way down. This will help prevent any paint drips from ruining your work.

Using a brush only for the tricky areas

The first step is to paint the edges and valleys of your roof with a brush by hand. This is where a quality brush comes in handy. As far as sizing goes, a 2-3 inch brush will do the trick.

Paint roller vs. spray gun

For the rest of your roof, you’ll have to decide between using a paint roller or a sprayer. If you’re painting a small roof, then a paint roller will suffice. But if you have a large roof, then you might want to consider renting a paint sprayer.

Using a paint roller

If you decide to use a roller, then you’ll want to make sure you use a thick durable product so you don’t need to roll through dozens of them.

Pour your roofing paint into a 5-gallon bucket and use a roller screen to remove any lumps. Once you’ve done that, you can start painting in 3-foot sections. Be sure to paint the edges of each section so you don’t have any missed spots.

Using a paint spray gun

If you go the automatic paint sprayer route, then you’ll want to thin your paint so it’s the consistency of milk. You can do this by adding water to your paint until it reaches the perfect consistency. Refer to the spray gun’s owner manual for more suggestions. Once you’ve done that, you can put your paint in the sprayer and start painting.

Be sure to hold the sprayer about 12 inches from your shingles and move it in a side-to-side motion. Then, use a back and forth motion when you reach the edges (rakes) of your roof.

Apply 2-3 coats

After you’ve finished painting your shingles, we’re sorry, but you’re not even close to done. Let the first coat dry for 24 hours before applying the second coat. This guarantees that the paint will adhere properly and won’t peel off. This is why the project is so time consuming and you’ll need to choose the perfect weather week.

Maintaining Your Newly Painted Roof

Now that you’ve finished painting your roof, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. For now that is! Because remember, you’ll need to re-paint everything again before you know it.

Apply touch ups where necessary

Check your roof every few months for any areas that need to be touched up. This is especially true in the spring while you listen to sparrows chirp after a dark frigid winter, and during a brisk football-filled Autumn day after a hot and sticky summer where the UV rays beat down on your home. Keep some extra paint handy so you can re-apply to any spots that may have chipped.

How long will painted shingles last?

Painted shingles will last anywhere from 1 to 3 years before they need to be painted again. But that’s just an estimate. Many times, amateur paint jobs will lead to issues in under a year’s time.

Is painting shingles a good idea?

No, painting asphalt shingles is not a good idea.  But people turn their roof space into personal mural and do it anyway. Before you move forward, we recommend at least getting a roofing professional to check out your roof for warning signs that there may be more structural issues that you need to worry about.

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