Metal roofs are a popular roofing choice for many homes and buildings. They are durable, long-lasting, and low maintenance. Over time though, metal roofs can fade, rust, or you may want to change their look. Painting a metal roof allows you to change its color, restore it, or extend its lifespan.
With proper preparation and using the right type of durable exterior paint made of metal, metal roofs can be painted successfully. Painted metal roofs can last 10-15 years or longer depending on climate, roof condition, and quality of paint and application. Painting can renew an aged metal roof and avoid the high cost of full replacement.
Benefits of Painting a Metal Roof
There are several good reasons for painting a metal roof:
- Change the color – Painting allows you to customize the color of your metal roof. You can match your home’s color scheme or go bold with a dramatic new hue.
- Restore fading or rust – Over time, metal roof colors can fade and exposed metal can start to rust. A fresh coat of paint renews and protects the roof.
- Extend roof lifespan – Good quality metal roof paint helps guard against rust, UV rays, and other damage that shortens the life of a metal roof. Painting can add years of extra life.
- Cost savings – The cost of painting a metal roof is far less than the price of a whole new roof. It’s an affordable way to refresh your home’s exterior look.
Preparing a Metal Roof for Painting
Proper surface preparation is key to achieving great results and maximum paint adhesion and durability when painting a metal roof. Here are some metal roof painting preparation tips:
- Wash the roof with a power washer or hose to remove dirt, dust, chalking paint, mildew and other contaminants. Let dry completely.
- Scuff sand exposed metal with 80-100 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface for better paint adhesion.
- Spot prime any exposed metal or rusty areas with a rust-inhibiting metal primer before applying paint.
- Use caulk to seal any seams, joints, flashings, nails, or holes to prevent moisture getting under the paint.
- Don’t paint a brand new metal roof until it has weathered at least 6 months. New metal has oils that can prevent proper paint bonding.
- Make any necessary metal roof repairs before painting. Dents, damaged panels or fasteners should be fixed first.
Proper prep prevents peeling, flaking or delaminating of the new paint job down the road. Take the time to thoroughly clean and prepare the metal roof surface prior to painting.
Choosing the Right Paint for a Metal Roof
Using the appropriate type of paint made specifically for exterior metal ensures the painted finish lasts the longest. The best paints for metal roofs include:
- Oil-based enamels – Provide excellent adhesion and durability. More prone to yellowing over time. Require mineral spirits for cleanup.
- 100% acrylic latex – Offer great adhesion, durability and color retention. Environmentally-friendly water cleanup.
- Acrylic-latex blends – Combine strengths of oil-based and 100% acrylics. Very durable and flexible.
- Elastomeric coatings – Flexible rubberized sealant paints that expand and contract. Help prevent roof leaks.
Look for exterior metal paint that contains rust inhibitors, UV absorbers, and adhesion promoters or bonding primers. Buy the highest quality paint you can afford for the longest performance.
Painting a Metal Roof Black
You can paint a metal roof black if desired. Black roofs are popular for a sleek, modern look. However, black absorbs and retains the most heat from sunlight. This can lead to expansion and contraction that accelerates wear.
When painting a metal roof black, use a paint designed for high heat applications, containing heat-reflective pigments and durability enhancers. High temperatures can break down cheaper paints quicker.
Also expect a black metal roof to fade faster than lighter colors. The intense heat causes more rapid weathering. Touch up painting more frequently will help maintain the deep black color.
How Long Does Paint on a Metal Roof Last?
How long paint lasts on a metal roof depends on several factors:
- Climate & Weather – Hotter climates, coastal moisture, and frequent storms shorten paint life. More sun exposure causes faster fading.
- Roof Condition – Paint lasts longer on smooth, sound roofs. Rough surfaces, rust, and flaws reduce paint bond and durability.
- Surface Prep – Properly cleaned and sanded metal surfaces allow for maximum paint adhesion and longevity.
- Paint Quality – Higher quality paints last longer. Economy grades fade and fail sooner.
- Color Choice – Darker colors typically last not as long as lighter color paints which resist sun damage better.
With proper prep work and using premium quality exterior metal paint, you can expect painted metal roofs to last 15 years or longer. Under the right conditions, some paint jobs can last 20-25 years. But average is 10-15 years before needing fresh paint. Proper maintenance will extend the life.
Maintaining a Painted Metal Roof
To keep a painted metal roof looking its best for as long as possible:
- Inspect the roof a few times per year and look for any damaged spots or paint failures. Touch up immediately before they worsen.
- Clean the roof periodically with a power washer to remove grime and environmental contaminants. Let dry completely before recoating.
- Reapply fresh paint when fading or corrosion begins. Don’t wait until paint has degraded completely.
- For maximum life, plan to repaint the entire roof every 10-15 years or as needed.
- When repainting, properly prepare the surface again to ensure paint will bond tightly.
- Use elastomeric roof coatings for best waterproofing and to fill in and seal any seams or penetrations.
Regular cleaning and spot painting when needed extends the life of the roof paint. Avoid waiting until the paint has completely failed before recoating the roof.
Painting a Metal Roof Step-by-Step
Follow these steps when painting a metal roof:
- Power washer or hose
- 80-100 grit sandpaper
- Masking tape & plastic sheeting
- Paintbrushes, rollers, paint tray
- Metal primer
- Exterior metal roof paint
- Safety gear – gloves, goggles, harness
- Remove any loose paint, rust, or corrosion with a wire brush.
- Wash the roof thoroughly with a power washer on a low setting. Let dry completely.
- Cover any areas you don’t want painted. Tape off trim, vents, etc.
- Scuff sand exposed metal and glossy paint with 80-100 grit sandpaper.
- Spot prime any bare metal, rusty areas, or peeling paint edges with a metal primer.
- Stir the exterior metal roof paint until thoroughly mixed. Pour some into a paint tray.
- Use a brush for painting seams and edges. Use a roller for large flat areas.
- Apply paint in 3-4 foot sections working from top to bottom of roof panels.
- Apply two coats allowing proper drying time between coats according to manufacturer.
- Inspect for any thin or missed spots and touch up. Allow to fully cure 72 hours before exposing to weather.
- Remove masking and clean up promptly. Dispose of paint containers properly.
Follow all safety guidelines when painting from a ladder or scaffolding on the roof. Take your time and don’t rush the painting steps for best results.
Cost to Paint a Metal Roof
The cost to paint the average residential metal roof is typically $2,500 – $4,500 depending on the:
- Roof size and pitch complexity
- Amount of prep work needed
- If using scaffolding for roof access
- Number of paint coats applied
- Quality of paint used
On average, painters charge around $3 per square foot to paint a metal roof. Prices are higher for multi-story homes, steep roofs, or tile roof painting.
For a basic 1,500 sq.ft. single story home, budget around $4,000 – $6,000 to hire professional metal roof painters. This includes power washing, spot priming, and applying two finish coats of durable metal roof enamel.
Painting a metal roof yourself costs less for DIY materials. But factor in renting equipment, safety gear, and your time. Hiring a pro ensures proper prep and application for longest paint life.
Metal Roof Painting Tips
Follow these tips for the best results painting metal roofs:
- Don’t paint when temperatures are below 50°F or above 90°F. Paint dries too slowly in cooler weather and hot sun can cause blistering.
- Apply paint on overcast, low humidity days without direct sun. This allows for proper paint cure time.
- Use angled paint rollers to reach up under panels and flatten out profiles. Use small trim brushes for detail areas.
- Work in sections no larger than you can reach comfortably without resting on the wet roof.
- Inspect for flaws, repairs or seams that need caulking after power washing and before painting.
- When applying the second coat, go perpendicular across the panels from the first coat direction. This ensures full coverage.
- Dispose of used paint brushes and rollers properly. Never clean them in sinks or drains where paint can harm plumbing and the environment.
- Ventilate indoor painting areas with fans to allow solvents to dissipate and dry properly.
Proper planning, using the right tools, and care in application helps create a long-lasting, quality paint job on metal roofing. Don’t cut corners or rush the prep and painting process.
Alternatives to Painting a Metal Roof
Instead of painting, some other options for changing or restoring a metal roof include:
- Metal roof coatings – Can renew faded roofs with an elastomeric sealant without full painting. Offer limited color choices.
- Roof vinyl wraps – Large vinyl decals that adhesive over existing roof. Wide color options. Doesn’t extend roof life.
- Roof restoration – Chemical process cleans and restores faded metal roofs. Limited colors. Doesn’t last as long as paint.
- New metal overlay – Installing new metal over old roofs. Very effective but more costly roof upgrade.
- Full roof replacement – Removing old roof and installing entirely new roof system. Most expensive option.
For maximum durability and custom color choices, properly painting a metal roof is typically better than coatings, wraps or restoration alone. But weigh the pros and cons of each method for your particular roof.
Signs Your Metal Roof Needs Repainting
Watch for these signs it’s time to repaint your aging metal roof:
- Visible fading, chalking or oxidation
- Blistered or cracked paint surface
- Rust forming in exposed metal areas
- Paint peeling away in sections
- Roof leaks around fasteners or seams
- Dark streaks from moisture penetration
- Major differences in color shading
Don’t wait until paint is severely deteriorated before recoating. Address problem areas early with spot touch ups. Plan a full repaint before corrosion can take hold under the paint.
How Often to Repaint a Metal Roof
On average, you should plan to repaint your entire metal roof every 10-15 years. But actual repainting frequency depends on:
- Roof color – Dark roofs need repainting more often
- Climate and weather exposure – More sun, heat, rain, snow means repaint sooner
- Original paint quality – Economy paints fail quicker
- Proper maintenance – Addressing flaws early extends repaint cycles
In ideal conditions, some metal roof paint jobs can last 20 years or longer. Use the signs above to determine when yours needs a refresh. Don’t wait until paint has failed before recoating.
Painting a metal roof allows you to change its color, restore it from fading or rust, and extend its lifespan at a fraction of replacement cost. With proper surface prep and using durable exterior metal paint, metal roofs can be painted successfully and last 10-15 years or longer. Pay attention to paint condition and recoating before damage occurs extends the life of your roof.