Whether you’re tired of its existing color or hoping to lengthen its lifespan, you can paint a metal roof as long as you properly prepare the surface. Before you get started, however, it’s important to understand the potential pitfalls associated with this sort of project. Read on to learn whether painting your metal roof is a good idea. 

Things to Consider

Painting a metal roof is possible as long as you properly prepare the surface, select the right primers, paints and finish sealants, and apply each product correctly. If you fail with any of these steps, you will end up with chipping or peeling. What’s worse, if you don’t use care, you could easily end up with a very serious injury.

Hire a professional painter if you are inexperienced or dealing with an especially steep or challenging roof. If you’re hoping to prolong the life of an aging roof, you should consider paying to have it replaced. While it may seem like a costly decision now, you’ll be better off in the long run. 

If you do plan to go ahead with painting your metal roof, these are the steps you will have to take.

Proper Prep Work

You should always allow newly installed roofs about six months to weather before applying paint. Since there are a vast array of available color options for modern metal roofs, you probably won’t need to paint anyway. If you are dead set on painting, it’s important to properly prepare the surface to promote adhesion. 

Start by scraping away any rust using a wire brush. If the roof has an existing coat of paint, scrape away any loose or peeling bits using a putty knife. 

To promote proper adhesion, you should then thoroughly remove any dirt, oils and residue by washing the entire roof with a weak acid (such as diluted vinegar). Allow the surface to dry and then gently powerwash the roof. Use a low setting or you may end up denting the metal. 

Before you paint your roof, you will need to apply an appropriate galvanized metal primer. If you don’t, the final finish is likely to chip or peel away over time. A topcoat sealer won’t eliminate the need for an appropriate primer: after all, the top coat only seals your paint, while the primer undercoat makes the paint adhere properly.

man power washing metal roof

Choosing the Right Paint

Acrylic latex paint is a good option for metal roofs. Oil-based alkyd paints can also be used with a compatible galvanized metal primer. Just be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure your primer and paint are compatible; avoid using oil-based products with water-based products. 

Bear in mind that some paints have added benefits such as chemicals that promote water and fire resistance, reflect UV radiation, and repel insects and pests. Choose one that best fits your needs based on your region.

Interior paint should never be used on a metal roof. Nor should you use the same exterior paint you might use on the siding of your home. Those kinds of paint aren’t strong enough for roofs and will fail against harsh weather elements. 

Painting Your Roof

You can apply paint to your metal roof using an airless sprayer or a paintbrush and roller specifically designed for corrugated metal. Sprayers will generate a smoother finish and are more appropriate for roofs that have a steep pitch. 

Be sure to wear non-slip shoes and a safety harness to reduce the risk of serious injuries related to falls. For metal roofs with a 4:12 pitch or higher, you will want to install permanent anchors to safely access the ridge. 

With all this in mind, you can see that any amateur painting job is going to be fraught with risk. Unless you have extensive experience painting metal roofing, you could easily damage your roof or endure a dangerous fall. If you fail to adequately prep the roof or improperly apply the primer, paint or sealant, you could end up with a very unattractive finish. If you fail to patch any small holes or fissures, you could experience slow, unseen leaks that could result in tens of thousands of dollars in mold and water damage. 

For this reason, it’s almost always better to work with a reputable local contractor. It’s also a good idea to consider replacing your roof instead of trying to prolong its life a couple of years by adding another coat of paint.  Ultimately, you will end up saving more money by investing in a quality replacement that will remain durable for decades. 

Need a new roof? A to Z is ready to help. Hoping for cost-friendly repairs for weather-related damage? We can do that too. At A to Z, we’ve developed a widespread, well-earned reputation as one of the state’s premier roofing contractors by providing expert workmanship and attentive, honest customer service. Contact us to learn more.