Painting Roof Shingles

Can Roof Shingles be Painted?

Asphalt roofing shingles are designed to be weatherproof, but sometimes their color can clash with the exterior paint of a house. In this case, a homeowner has several options, but one of the most unconventional solutions is to paint the shingles a different color.

Roof shingles can be painted with acrylic exterior paints specifically designed to be used on asphalt shingles. The majority of experts advise against painting roof shingles, however, because of the issues that can arise. Painted shingles have to be re-painted every six years or so due to wear, they’re more susceptible to moisture damage.

A homeowner who’s faced with a clashing roof could spend thousands on replacing the shingles, or paint the outside of their house with a better-matching color. If that homeowner is up for a challenge, doesn’t want to spend as much money, or simply prefers an out-of-the-box solution, they might consider painting their roofing shingles. In this article, you’ll learn all about the factors and variables you should consider before you decide to paint your roofing shingles.

Why Paint Your Roof Shingles?

Generally, a homeowner decides to paint their shingles because the color clashes with the rest of their house. Although shingles are mostly in neutral colors, there’s always a chance you move into a new house where there’s a serious mismatch between the roof color and the exterior paint. If the shingles are still in good shape (most modern shingles have warranties for up to 20 years), the cheapest option to re-color the roof is to repaint it.

Another benefit of painting a roof is the increased energy efficiency certain colors provide. In particular, buying a solar reflective color will help reflect the sun’s heat and keep the house cooler in the summer. Nowadays, most colors apart from

ProsCons
Less expensive way to change the color of a roofLikely to fade after 5-7 years
Can provide energy savings Challenging job that may require a professional
May help lengthen the life of a roof by protecting the shingles from damageCan be difficult to find professional contractors
Makes home more customizableRequires expensive safety equipment for the first time
Environmentally friendlyMay increase moisture retention which leads to mold and rotting

The benefits of painting a roof should be carefully weighed against the potential downsides. While it’s much less expensive than replacing an entire roof, shingles will fade from weather and the sun and will likely need to be repainted every 5-7 years or so.

It’s also a difficult job for amateurs, with heights involved and steep slopes of the roof to contend with. As such, the first time you paint your house you’ll need to purchase expensive equipment like safety harnesses, extra tall ladders, and other supplies.

Does Painting Your Roof Impact the Environment?

Choosing a good color for roof shingle painting can significantly impact the environment. For example, painting your roof shingles a lighter shade can directly lead to reduced energy consumption. In Australia, for instance, there are cool roof energy savings and incentives for having a painted roof, specifically a roof that’s considered solar reflective.

While roofs that are considered energy efficient and solar reflective are most often painted white, with modern paint formulation techniques it’s possible to have a reflective roof in beiges, browns, yellows, reds, and blues. Having a roof that reflects a certain percentage of sunlight will allow you to keep your house cooler in the summer, which translates to lower energy consumption and therefore, less pollution.

What Sort of Paint do you use on Shingles?

Painting asphalt roofing shingles requires a special type of acrylic paint. You can’t just use a standard exterior paint on a roof, or you’ll cause issues with moisture retention and adhesion to the surface. Instead, you’ll need to find a specially formulated paint for roofing shingles. Some companies make paints specifically for roofing, which have ingredients to allow moisture to escape from under them.

Allowing moisture to escape is probably one of the most important considerations when painting your roof, because roofing shingles are prone to molding and algae growth if kept damp. This leads to rotting, which is the quickest way to needing an entire re-roofing. Again, certain paint brands make exterior acrylic paint that’s specially formulated for roofing shingles, and it’s important to use those paints for the best long-term finish.

What Equipment do you Need to Paint a Roof?

Apart from the standard painting supplies, painting a roof requires some specialized equipment that the average homeowner probably doesn’t own. Depending upon the height and pitch of your roof, some of these tools and equipment might not be necessary.

A single-story ranch, for instance, typically has a much shallower pitch than a two-story house, and a fall from a one-story ranch isn’t nearly as life-threatening. Here’s a list of some of the items you’ll want to buy if you’re planning to paint your roof:

  • Extension ladder that can reach your roof
  • Safety Harness (with a roof anchor like in this one if your house doesn’t already have them on the roof)
  • Pressure washer (your roof needs to be thoroughly cleaned before painting)
  • Paint spray gun and pump (these would probably be better to rent from your nearest tool rental store)
  • Drop cloths
  • Masking tape
  • Roof edge protection system (you can accomplish this with simple two-by-fours and braces to give yourself something to stand on)
  • Paint roller/tray

While this list isn’t all inclusive, it will get you headed in the right direction if you’re planning on painting your roof yourself.

Hiring a Professional

If the thought of climbing on your roof doesn’t sound that appealing to you, you can try and find a professional to do the job. This will be more expensive than doing it yourself, but you also don’t have to purchase all the equipment. It may even be difficult to find a pro in your area who paints roofs, but they do exist. It’s not a common request, however, so you may find that that increases the cost as well.

Hiring a professional is always an important option to consider. Something so extreme as painting your roof shingles will most likely need to be done by a professional if you want it done correctly.

Final Thoughts

While many pros and experts recommend against painting roofing shingles, there can be some benefits to it, and it’s definitely possible. It allows you to match your roof to the rest of your house for less money than replacing an entire roof, and if you pick the right paint and color, it can lead to energy savings and have good environmental impacts as well.

However, it’s a difficult job that requires some big up-front expenses in the form of tools, and it will likely need to be re-done every 5-7 years after weather and sun wear. Just make sure you get the right kind of paint that’s specially made for application on asphalt roofing shingles. It would be terrible to have to replace a rotting roof earlier than necessary!

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