Can Roof Tiles Be Painted?

Painting roof tiles is possible for most tile materials like concrete, clay and slate tiles. It allows for changing the color and refreshing the appearance of an aging roof. However, proper techniques, specialized paints and thorough surface preparation are required for successful results.

Terracotta roof tiles are more difficult to paint due to the dense impervious surface to which paint does not adhere well. Multiple thin coats of paint provide better adhesion instead of one thick coat. But the paint may still crack and peel off terracotta tiles relatively quickly.

Other considerations when deciding whether to paint roof tiles include added maintenance and costs. The paint may need to be reapplied every 5-10 years. Weighing up the benefits versus drawbacks will determine whether it is worthwhile for your home and roof tiles.

Can Roof Tiles Be Painted

Key Takeaways

  • Many roof tiles like concrete, clay and slate can be painted with proper prep and products.
  • Terracotta tiles are difficult to paint well – other options may be better.
  • Proper cleaning, priming, paint choices and application techniques are crucial.
  • Costs range from $400 – $7,000+ depending on roof size, pitch and complexity.
  • Paint may last 8-12 years on concrete/clay tiles before needing refresh.
  • Weigh pros and cons carefully before deciding to paint roof tiles.

Can You Paint Concrete Roof Tiles?

Painting concrete roof tiles is one of the more straightforward materials to paint, compared to natural clay or slate tiles. The porous surface allows paint to adhere well when proper preparation is done.

Concrete roof tiles may be painted to change their appearance, restore faded color, or refresh the overall look of the home’s exterior and roofline. It provides a cheaper alternative to replacing the concrete tiles altogether.

Paint can give plain or weathered concrete tiles more visual appeal. Bold colors like reds, greens and blues can transform the tiles and bring life back to the roof. More neutral toned paint colors are also options for a subtle change.

When painting concrete tiles, proper preparation ensures the paint adheres well for longer lasting results:

  • Clean the tiles thoroughly to remove dirt, moss and debris. Use a power washer on low pressure settings.
  • Allow the tiles to fully dry after cleaning before attempting to paint.
  • Repair any cracks or damaged areas of the tiles before painting. Use flexible tile adhesive or sealant.
  • Use a specialist primer or sealer designed for concrete tile roofs. This helps the topcoat paint stick better.
  • Apply paint in several thin coats, allowing each coat to dry fully before adding another. Thick coats are more prone to chipping or peeling.
  • Use acrylic exterior roof paints that maintain elasticity. Avoid cheap exterior house paints.
  • Follow all product instructions for best application and results.

Properly painted concrete roof tiles can last upwards of 10 years before needing repainting. Seek professional advice on paints suitable for your concrete tile roof and climate.

Painting Clay Roof Tiles

Clay roof tiles are another material that accepts paints well. Natural terracotta clay tiles are more difficult as discussed later.

For manufactured clay tiles, proper preparation and using elasticated roof paint allows for successful painting and longevity of the finish.

Like concrete tiles, painting clay roof tiles enables changing their color or simply freshening up their appearance as part of a whole house exterior makeover.

Clay can be painted in various colors from bold tones to more subtle natural hues. Neutral roof paints are also options for maintaining the underlying clay color while giving a clean and uniform look.

Preparation steps for painting clay tiles involve:

  • Cleaning the tiles thoroughly using a low-pressure washer.
  • Allowing tiles to dry completely before attempting to paint.
  • Sealing any cracks or damage first with flexible tile sealant or adhesive.
  • Applying a specialized primer/sealer for clay tiles to aid adhesion.
  • Painting in thin coats allowing proper drying time between coats.
  • Using 100% acrylic or elastomeric paints suitable for clay tile roofs.
  • Following all instructions provided with the painting products.

Well-adhered paint on clay tiles typically lasts 8-12 years before needing reapplication. Seek professional roofing advice on product suitability for your climate and specific clay tile roof.

Can Slate Roof Tiles Be Painted?

Natural slate roofing tiles are another material suitable for painting. Their porous surface allows paints to adhere well.

Reasons to paint slate tiles include restoring their original underlying color that weathering has dulled or faded. Painting can also completely change the roof’s color as part of an exterior home makeover.

Prepping slate tiles properly before painting is crucial for success and longevity:

  • Thoroughly clean the slate tiles using a low-pressure power washer to remove grime or moss.
  • Allow the slate tiles to completely dry out before attempting to paint.
  • Repair any cracked, broken or missing slate tiles before painting. Match replacement tiles closely.
  • Apply a primer or sealer designed for natural slate. This enhances paint adhesion.
  • Use exterior grade 100% acrylic paints or elastomeric coatings suitable for slate. Avoid cheaper paints.
  • Apply paint in mild weather with several thin coats. Allow proper drying between coats.
  • Follow all instructions provided by the paint manufacturer.

Life expectancy of properly painted slate tiles is typically around 10 years before needing repainting. Consult roofing specialists for product advice for your climate and specific slate tile roof.

Can You Paint Terracotta Roof Tiles?

Painting natural terracotta roof tiles is more problematic than man-made concrete or clay tiles. The dense, impervious finish of terracotta prevents paint from adhering well.

Specialist terracotta paints are available but also have limitations. The paint tends to crack and peel off relatively quickly as it cannot flex with the tile surfaces properly.

Frequent repainting is needed to maintain appearance but may not be very effective. Painting terracotta tiles every 3-5 years helps maintain some color but will still crack and chip.

If painting terracotta tiles, take extra preparations:

  • Clean thoroughly and allow to dry out before painting fully
  • Apply a specialized primer/sealer for terracotta tiles
  • Use thin multiple coats of flexible paints formulated for terracotta
  • Expect to reapply paints more frequently, like every 5 years
  • Seek professional advice on products suitable for your climate

Consider alternative options for changing the look of terracotta roof tiles:

  • Add a clear sealer or glaze to enhance color while allowing natural patina
  • Replace select tiles with new or painted terracotta tiles as accents
  • Install new roof battens and overlay new compatible roofing like metal sheeting
  • Replace the terracotta tiles fully with concrete tiles or new terracotta

Painting terracotta roof tiles can restore color but requires extra effort for less durable results. Seek professional advice on options for your particular home and roof.

Why Paint Roof Tiles?

There are a few key reasons homeowners choose to paint their roof tiles:

Change Color

Painting tiles allows changing their color completely. This can transform the appearance of the home’s exterior. New paint can restore the original color if it has faded over time.

Refresh Appearance

Weathering, moss and grime can make roof tiles look old and dirty. Fresh paint refreshes the appearance and brings back a uniform, clean finish.

Cost Savings

Painting tiles is far cheaper than replacing them. It provides an affordable way to update the home’s exterior and restore the roof’s appearance.

Extend Roof Life

Sealing and protecting tiles through painting may help prevent damage from weathering and extend the life of the tiles. Proper maintenance coating is needed.

Improve Energy Efficiency

White or reflective coatings can help reduce heat absorption in hot climates. This depends on the particular tile and paint material.

These benefits should be weighed against the additional maintenance of painting roof tiles adds. Overall it can be a cost-effective way to change their appearance if done properly.

What Type of Paint for Roof Tiles?

Choosing the right type of paint is crucial for proper adhesion and lasting results when painting roof tiles. Avoid using regular exterior house paints.

The best options include:

  • Acrylic Roof Paints – 100% acrylic formulas maintain elasticity to prevent cracking or peeling as the roof flexes.
  • Elastomeric Coatings – Flexible rubberized paints that expand and contract to resist damage. Offer excellent adhesion.
  • Bitumen Roof Paints – Contain asphalt or bitumen for water resistance. Use a primer first for best bonding.
  • Silicone Roof Coatings – Silicone-based paint with hydrophobic properties to repel water. Requires primer.
  • Ceramic Roof Paints – Contain crushed ceramic particles, offering heat reflection and water resistance.
  • Epoxy Tile Paints – Two-part paints with excellent adhesion but less elasticity. Best for small touch ups.

Get specific product recommendations from roofing professionals that suit your tile roof and local climate conditions. Avoid cheap paints that won’t adhere well or last.

Proper prep work and application techniques also impact results, so read all manufacturer instructions carefully.

How to Paint Roof Tiles

Follow these steps for proper application when painting roof tiles:

1. Clean the Tile Surface

Thoroughly clean tiles with a low-pressure power washer to remove dirt, moss and debris. Allow tiles to dry before painting fully.

2. Repair Any Tile Damage

Replace cracked, broken or missing tiles. Use flexible sealant or adhesive to repair small cracks.

3. Apply a Primer or Sealer

Use a specialty primer or sealer designed for the tile material. This enhances paint adhesion.

4. Paint in Thin Coats

Apply two or three thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat. Allow proper drying time between coats.

5. Use Proper Painting Tools

Use good quality bristle brushes and small foam rollers suitable for tiles. Consider a paint sprayer for large jobs.

6. Work in Sections

Paint small sections at a time to avoid paint drying too quickly before completing an area.

7. Paint Vertical to Horizontal

Paint top to bottom and vertical tile surfaces before horizontal. Avoid paint drips.

8. Allow Adequate Curing Time

Let the paint cure fully before walking on the roof. Check paint manufacturer’s instructions.

9. Clean Tools Promptly

Clean brushes and rollers with water after use to prevent dried paint ruining them for later touch ups.

Follow all the paint manufacturer’s instructions carefully for best results. Consider hiring a professional roofer for larger homes.

Cost to Paint Roof Tiles

Painting costs depend on the roof’s size, tile material, complexity and pitch. Expect to pay:

  • Small simple roofs: $400 – $1,000
  • Average sized roofs: $1,500 – $3,500
  • Large or steep roofs: $3,500 – $7,000+
  • With gutter/edge painting: +$500 – $1,500
  • Professional painting: +$1,000 – $3,000

Costs factors include:

  • Roofing paint costs $50 – $100 per gallon
  • Labor time for surface preparation and painting
  • Roof size and height affects access costs
  • Special equipment like scaffolding for high roofs
  • Professional painter versus DIY also impacts costs

Get multiple quotes from roofing contractors to compare rates in your local area.

For a basic DIY paint job, expect to pay around $200-$500 for paint and supplies. But hiring a professional painter is recommended, especially for large steep roofs.

How Long Does Paint on Roof Tiles Last?

How long paint lasts on roof tiles depends on several factors:

  • Tile material – concrete and clay last longer than terracotta
  • Paint quality – elastomeric lasts longer than basic acrylic paint
  • Surface preparation – proper cleaning and priming enhances durability
  • Application – thinner multiple coats last better than one thick coat
  • Climate and weather – harsh sun, rain and extreme temps shorten lifespan
  • Roof pitch and drainage – flat areas more prone to standing water and wear

Under optimal conditions, painted tiles may last:

  • Concrete/clay tiles: 8-12 years
  • Slate tiles: Around 10 years
  • Terracotta tiles: 3-5 years

Harsher climates or cheaper paint can reduce typical lifespan by 2-4 years.

Check painted roofs annually for cracks or deterioration to proactively spot repairs needed. Expect full repainting every 8-10 years for most tile types.

Pros and Cons of Painting Roof Tiles


  • Much cheaper than full tile replacement
  • Allows changing color or refreshing appearance
  • Extends life by protecting from weathering
  • Reflective coatings can improve insulation
  • Easier maintenance than repairing/replacing tiles


  • Shorter lifespan than new roofing (8-12 years)
  • Preparation and painting labor intensive
  • Risk of peeling or chipping if done incorrectly
  • Regular repainting required to maintain looks
  • Difficult to fully restore very worn or damaged tiles

Carefully weigh up the advantages and disadvantages. For newer roofs in good condition, painting tiles can make sense to change up style. Heavily deteriorated roofs will likely need replacement for proper restoration.


Painting most roofing tiles allows homeowners to change color or restore appearance at a lower cost than full replacement. With proper materials, preparation and application, painted tile roofs can enhance curb appeal and provide years of longevity.

However, terracotta tile painting is problematic and prone to early failure. Carefully consider benefits and drawbacks before proceeding. Hiring an experienced roofing pro for the prep work and painting is highly recommended to ensure success.

With the right approach, painted roof tiles can provide an affordable way to give your home exterior and roofline a fresh new look with long-lasting results. Use the right painting products and techniques for your tile material and roof style.

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