Painting roof shingles is possible but comes with risks and downsides. While paint can provide aesthetic benefits, it can damage shingles or shorten their lifespan if not done correctly.
There are a few scenarios where painting shingles may make sense, such as temporarily improving the appearance of faded shingles. But generally, coatings are better for protecting asphalt shingle roofs long-term than paints.
Can You Paint Over Asphalt Shingles?
Asphalt shingles can technically be painted, but it’s not typically advised. The composition of asphalt shingles makes proper paint adhesion difficult, leading to chipping and peeling over time.
There are also risks of moisture issues like blistering when shingles cannot ventilate properly under paint. This can accelerate deterioration of shingles.
So painting asphalt roofing should only be considered for short-term improvements or accent sections, not whole roofs. Proper prep work and using the right type of paint improves success when painting shingles is desired.
What Kind of Paint for Asphalt Shingles?
Choosing the right type of paint is critical if you paint asphalt shingles. Here are the best options:
- 100% Acrylic Latex Exterior Paints – Specifically for roofing and maximum adhesion and flexibility. Avoid cheaper latex paints.
- Elastomeric Roof Coatings – Contain rubber-like compounds to expand and contract while protecting shingles.
- Asphalt Aluminum Roof Coatings – Contain asphalt and aluminum for heat reflection. Can re-bond with shingles.
- Silicone Roof Coatings – Silicone-based waterproofing abilities while allowing breathability.
Avoid oil-based paints as they become too brittle on shingles. Stick with quality acrylic latex or elastomeric roof paints from reputable brands like Behr, Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore for best results.
Preparing Shingles for Painting
Proper prep work before painting asphalt shingles improves paint adhesion and performance:
- Pressure wash the roof with clean water to remove dirt, mildew and loose debris. Avoid damaging shingles.
- Allow several sunny days for the roof to dry out before painting completely.
- Scrape off any loose material or flaking sections and patch with asphalt cement.
- Lightly sand shingles to improve surface profile for better paint grip.
- Prime shingles with a specialty primer made for asphalt roofing.
- Check for any damaged, curled or missing shingles and replace beforehand.
Taking time to prep shingles properly prevents paint failure down the road. Never paint over damp shingles or those in poor condition.
Painting Shingles – Process & Application Tips
When ready to paint prepared asphalt shingles:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application tips specific to the product.
- Apply on a dry day with no rain forecasted for 24-48 hours to allow proper curing.
- Use an airless paint sprayer or high-quality brushes designed for smooth exterior surfaces.
- Paint in sections starting at the bottom edge moving upwards to avoid drips.
- Apply in multiple thin, even coats allowing proper drying time between coats.
- Add a non-skid additive to final coat if painting a steeper sloped roof to avoid slippage.
- Consider hiring a professional painter experienced with roof coatings for best results.
Proper paint application techniques maximize performance and appearance. Rushing the job often leads to early paint failure.
Cost to Paint Asphalt Shingle Roofs
Painting an asphalt shingle roof costs between $1.00 and $5.00 per square foot. This includes materials and professional labor. Exact costs vary based on:
- Roof size and accessibility – larger and steeper roofs cost more.
- Location – labor rates are higher in some areas.
- Special equipment needs – cranes or scaffolding to reach high roofs adds expense.
- Paint type and quantity needed to cover the roof.
- Whether gutters, trim and vents are also painted – extra cost.
- DIY versus professional painter – Pros charge $40-$70 per hour.
For DIYers, material costs to paint a simple small roof are around $200 – $500. Hiring a professional for painting labor costs around $1000 – $3000 depending on roof size.
How Long Does Paint Last on Shingles?
Lifespan of paint on asphalt shingles depends on several factors:
- Paint quality – Advanced elastomeric coatings last longer than basic acrylic paints.
- Proper surface prep – Enhances paint adhesion and durability.
- Application techniques – Multiple thin coats outperform one thick, heavy coat.
- Roof slope and ventilation – Flatter roofs prone to puddling and faster wear.
- Climate and environmental exposure – Harsher conditions deteriorate paint faster.
- Shingle condition – Paint fails quicker on old, weathered or damaged shingles.
Under optimal conditions, painted asphalt shingles may last:
- Advanced elastomeric paints: 8-12 years
- Acrylic latex roof paints: 4-8 years
- Basic latex paints: 2-4 years
Expect to recoat every 4-8 years, depending on products used. Some chipping or fading will start occurring before full failure.
Pros of Painting Asphalt Shingles
There are some potential benefits to painting over asphalt shingle roofing:
- Appearance – Paint can restore faded shingle color or change it completely. Improves aesthetics.
- Heat Reflection – Coatings with aluminum or ceramic compounds reduce heat absorption.
- Weather Protection – Adds limited waterproofing and UV resistance to extend shingle lifespan.
- Affordability – Cheaper alternative to full roof shingle replacement.
- VOC Reduction – Reflective paints lower roof temperature and energy costs.
- Customization – Paint allows color options not available from replacement shingles.
These benefits make painting a reasonable temporary solution in some scenarios, like improving appearance of aging shingles.
Cons of Painting Asphalt Roof Shingles
Possible downsides and risks to consider before painting asphalt shingles:
- Peeling & Chipping – Paints often fail prematurely due to poor shingle adhesion.
- Moisture Issues – Paint can seal in moisture leading to shingle warping or blistering.
- Reduced Shingle Life – Painting too heavily can accelerate wear, especially on lower-quality shingles.
- Reflectivity Concerns – Some HOAs prohibit reflective coatings for aesthetic reasons.
- Short Lifespan – Requires re-coating every 4-8 years to maintain appearance and benefits.
- Labor Intensive – Extensive prep work required for proper paint adhesion.
- Not a Permanent Fix – Painting improves appearance short-term but doesn’t fix fundamental roofing issues long-term.
These potential drawbacks make paint a temporary fix at best in most cases.
Expert Recommendations on Painting Shingles
Roofing experts generally advise against painting entire asphalt shingle roofs, except in certain circumstances:
- Only for short-term improvements to appearance or insulation.
- Not as a remedy for old, worn or defective shingles – replacement recommended instead.
- Low-slope sections prone to algae growth can benefit from reflective paints.
- Small accent sections can be painted for variety if desired without risks of whole roof.
- Elastomeric paints preferred over basic acrylics for greater durability if painting.
- Prepare shingle surface properly and apply thinner coats of quality paint.
- Hire a qualified professional roofer experienced with roof coatings.
So while it is possible to paint asphalt shingles, coatings are usually a better option for protecting the roof long-term when improvement is needed.
Roof Coatings vs. Paint for Asphalt Shingles
Roof coatings provide an alternative way to enhance asphalt shingle roofs compared to paints:
- Penetrate and seal shingles while allowing breathability
- Flexible elastomeric compounds expand and contract with shingles
- Last 10-20 years versus 4-8 years
- Sit on top of shingles instead of bonding
- Acrylic latex paints are less flexible
- Tend to chip, crack or peel off prematurely
- Require reapplication every 4-8 years
- Coatings allow moisture to escape, preventing damage
- Paints carry higher risk of moisture blistering shingles
- Coatings generally 100% elastomeric acrylic formulas
- Paint can be elastomeric or cheaper acrylic blends
When to Use Each:
- Coatings better for sealing and preserving shingles long-term
- Paints only for temporary appearance improvements
- Use coatings if roof condition is good but needs some rejuvenation
- Consider paints if budget is very limited and roof is near replacement anyway
So while paints provide temporary benefits, roof coatings are generally the best way to enhance asphalt shingle roofs for longevity. Proper prep work is still required.
Key Considerations Before Painting Shingles
Before deciding to paint asphalt roof shingles, keep these important considerations in mind:
- Painting can void shingle warranties – check before proceeding.
- Reflective paints may not be allowed in some neighborhoods – know regulations.
- Painting can accelerate deterioration of lower-quality or damaged shingles.
- Trapped moisture under paint risks blistering and warping shingles over time.
- preparation is key – never paint over dirty, wet or deteriorating shingles.
- Hire a professional experienced with roof coatings for best results.
- Only paint small sections of roof instead of entire roof.
- View painting as a temporary low-cost improvement, not long-term remedy.
Carefully weighing these factors helps determine if painting shingles is right for your roof.
Painting over asphalt shingles comes with some risks but can provide temporary improvements in the right circumstances. Limit painting to smaller sections, use quality exterior paints, and ensure proper prep to maximize results.
Coatings generally outperform paints for enhancing shingles long-term while allowing breathability. Consider coatings if your roof is in decent shape but needs rejuvenation and protection. For aged roofs needing significant repair, professional replacement is the best option.