Can I Paint a Metal Roof to a New Color?

Many homeowners with metal roofs grow tired of the color after time has passed. Given the high costs of installing a metal roof, plenty of people wonder: Can I Paint a Metal Roof?

Painting a metal roof is a fantastic way to give your old one a new life. But you can only paint metal roofs that are at least six months old and in excellent condition. In this article, we'll talk about how to paint a metal roof and introduce some painting products. 

Yes! Painting a Metal Roof is Possible

Out of all the many benefits of metal roofs, the most significant is extended longevity. These products can last for decades, but having the same color the entire time can get boring. Painting a metal roof allows you to change the look of your home without the steep cost of replacement.

It doesn't matter what type of metal roof you have, as they can all handle a coat of paint. But you do have to wait at least 6 months before applying any paint to change the color of newly installed roofs. The metal needs time to weather before it can adequately hold paint. 

You'll also need to prep your roof before painting. In addition to power washing your roof to remove debris, dirt, and mildew, you can also use a diluted vinegar mixture to remove old paint residue. 

clean metal roof before painting

If you don't have a power washer, you can use a water and trisodium phosphate mixture to scrub your roof and use a paint scraper to tackle any patches of old paint. This process takes longer and is more labor-intensive. 

You cannot paint a metal roof that has corrosion or signs of rust. But there are multiple tools you can use to remove loose rust scales. Sanders, grinders, wire brushes, or blasting (soda or sand) work wonders. 

remove metal roof rusts

After you've removed all the particles, you can treat the rust with a phosphoric acid product. Or choose a paint with rust treating abilities (oil-based paints works great for hiding and preventing corrosion). The type of paint you choose for your metal roof is also crucial. 

Before you paint your metal roof, you'll need to apply a layer of sealer, sometimes referred to as primer. This base layer will help the paint stick to the surface of the roof using chemical bonding. If you apply paint to a top that hasn't been primed or sealed, the color will start to peel and break after drying. 

Advantages of Painting a Metal Roof

There are multiple benefits of painting a metal roof a new color. These advantages often influence homeowners to choose to paint their metal roofs a new color.

pros of painting metal roof
  • Repels UV rays

Metal roofs conduct a lot of heat from the sun. When your roof isn't prepped correctly, this heat can flow into the home, raising the internal temperature, causing your AC to work overtime. Painting a metal roof causes a chemical bonding that blocks UV rays, resulting in less heat absorption. 

  • Sustainability

Most metal roofs do not need repairs throughout their entire lifetime, which saves you money. But they will need a new coat of paint every decade or so. Repainting is an affordable and effective way to protect the metal's integrity while giving your home a new look.

  • Aesthetics

Because metal roofs last half a century or better, there are plenty of times when you may want to change the look. Paint is the perfect way to change how your roof looks without breaking the bank. The only limitation of painting a metal roof is using a product designed for your roof's type of metal. 

Disadvantages with Painting a Metal Roof

Despite the many benefits of painting a metal roof, there are a few disadvantages to mention. Many of these problems are avoidable with proper prepping and protection. 

Faulty paint job metal roof
  • Faulty paint job

The biggest downside of painting a metal roof is peeling flaky paint. If you do not adequately prep your roof before applying paint, your final product can be splotchy, peeling, or streaked. Cleaning your roof and using a primer before painting can help you get a perfect paint job.

  • Improper application

For the most part, painting a metal roof is an easy process. But trying to apply paint using a sprayer on windy days can result in an uneven paint job. High winds and the hot sun can cause the paint to dry too fast before you've had time to finish the section. The final result can end up streaked, mottled, and uneven. 

Best Metal Roof Painting

There are two types of paint you can use for a metal roof - acrylic DTM or oil-based. Which type you choose will depend on the metal of your roof. You may also need to purchase formulated cleaning solutions and paint primers that go on before your paint for better adhesion.

best metal roof paintings
  • Acrylic DTM

Acrylic DTM (Direct to Metal) latex paints are an excellent option for roofs with previous paint or bare metal roofs. You can use these paints on aluminum, Terne, hot rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, or coated metals, including galvanized and galvalume.

This option is ideal for homes where there are concerns about flexibility or colorfastness. When compared to oil, acrylic DTMs work better for both issues.

The biggest reason most people choose acrylic DTM paints is the ease of application. In most cases, you won't need to clean or pretreat your metal roof before painting. And you'd only need to apply one coat. 

  • Oil-based alkyd paint

You can also use oil-based alkyd paints, but you have to match them with the correct galvanized metal primer. Without the primer, the paint won't stick to your roof correctly. This type of paint is best for Terne metal but should not go on galvanized roofs. 

Oil-based paints do well for reducing metal oxidation (rust), both as bleed-through and future outbreaks. If your room has already had a previous coat of oil-based paint, it's best to recoat using the same base paint. 

Although other paints can bond with old oil paints, the rate of thermal reaction (compression and expanding due to weather) is different, resulting in peeling paint. 

  • Ospho (Prep product)

Ospho is a diluted phosphoric acid frequently used to treat signs of rust. It's a necessity to use this type of product on Terne or galvanized metal before painting. But you can also use Ospho (or other iron phosphate products) to treat aluminum roofs before painting. 

  • Cleaning detergent

Many experts recommend using detergents when pressure washing your roof. Water may not get all the contaminants like tree sap, oils, or pollen off metal. TSP and Jomax are two products that work well for cleaning metal roofs. After cleaning the roof with either of these products, primer it within one to two days. 

Factors to Consider Before Painting

When choosing a paint for your metal roof, it helps to know what factors to weigh. Understanding the essential criteria to consider when comparing different options allows you to make the best choice for your needs.

  • Water resistance

The first criteria to consider is the paint's ability to withstand water and other weather elements. For this reason, interior and regular exterior paints are immediately disqualified. If you live in a dry climate, this factor may not affect you. But if your area sees more rain (or snow) than the sun, you'll want a product with this feature.

  • Fire resistance

Metal roofs are naturally fire-resistant. You'll want to be sure the paint you choose also offers flame and fire protection, so your house and family stay safe. 

  • UV reflection

Another factor you'll want to have in the paint you choose for your metal roof is the ability to resist UV rays. Many paints designed exclusively for metal roofs have a unique resin that blocks these harmful rays. This resin will also stop the paint from rusting, corroding, fading, peeling, and blocking water.

  • Insect-resistant

Some brands of metal roof paint have insecticides mixed into the paint solution. This feature is ideal for homes in rural areas where there are heavy populations of insects that may land on your roof.

  • Color

Since you'll be painting your roof a permanent color, you'll want to be picky about the shade you choose. Roofs painted a lighter color than the rest of your house can make your structure look taller - a perfect solution for low roofs or shallow pitches. Darker colors are an excellent solution for making high-pitched roofs look less intimidating.

metal roof color guide

Contrasting colors can make your house stand out and draw attention, while complementary colors are great for a monochromatic classic aesthetic. The color will also affect energy efficiency. Light colors reflect more heat from the sun than dark colors. 

You'd benefit from lighter shades like white, peach, beige, light green, light blue, or light bronze in hot climates. You could see energy savings of 20% to 30%. Homes in colder temperatures do not have to worry about using dark instead of light.

Budget Guide for Painting Metal Roof

To determine the costs of painting a metal roof, you'll need to know the dimensions of your roof in square footage. You can also use a roofing square to figure out your cost - one equals 100 square feet. Remember that when hiring a company to paint your roof for you, you'll be paying for labor and materials, which will make the cost higher than DIY.

Price of Metal Roof Paintings

Here is a price list of some metal roof painting products.






$20 a gallon

Power Washer


$69-$98 per day



$20-$70 a container

Primer (Sealant)


$6.88-$31.57 per square

Paint Sprayer


$65-$93 per day

Acrylic DTM latex


$100-$200 per 5 gallons



$26-$44 per one gallon

Professional Costs

  • Cleaning - SQ FT: $0.10-$0.23 ($120-$276 total)
  • Painting - SQ FT: $1.20-$272; $120-$272 a square 
  • Total costs - $1,440-$3,264 (increases with roof size and paint type)

DIY Costs

  • Cleaning - power wash rental: $69 for four hours or all day for $98
  • Painting - paint sprayer rental: $65 for four hours or all day for $93
  • Roof sealant (primer) - SQ: $6.88-$31.57 
  • Paint - $26 to $44 per gallon (1 gallon = 1 square or 100 square feet) 

For a typical 1,200 square foot home, the average cost (varies by location) is around $2,352 to have your roof professionally painted. If you plan to DIY, you'll spend between $360 to $480 on twelve gallons of paint (1 gallon per square). You'll also need enough primer to treat the roof, plus equipment if desired.

DIY Painting a Metal Roof

Painting a metal roof DIY can be a straightforward process. You have the option to apply the paint using a sprayer (great for high areas), paintbrushes, or rollers designed explicitly for corrugated metal. Luckily, metal roofs only require two to three coats of paint in most cases. 

You should not use interior or the same exterior paint you used on the other parts of your home. These types of paint will not perform well enough to withstand the elements. 

If you are walking up on your roof, you should wear a properly fitting safety harness and non-slip shoes. These items will protect you in case of accidental falls. If your roof has a pitch of 4:12 or more, you'll be safer installing permanent anchors while working at the ridge. 

You will save money on labor by doing it yourself. But if you're inexperienced, you could end up costing yourself more money in the long run if you make mistakes (highly likely for beginners) that a professional painter has to fix. It can also be dangerous to attempt without supervision from an experienced roofer or painter.

However, you will pay more for materials since most professional painters buy their products wholesale, allowing them to get better bargains. You'll also have to pay for equipment if you don't want to spend hours prepping and painting by hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When should I paint my new metal roof?

A: If you have a new metal roof installed that's still a shiny metal color, you'll have to wait at least six months before you can paint it for the first time. Painting it too early can reduce the metal's natural abilities to resist weather, sun, and energy efficiency.

Q: How often do metal roofs need repainting?

A: The general rule for repainting metal roofs is every ten years. But depending on the previous paint job, you may need to repaint sooner. Inspecting your roof annually (or hiring a professional to do it for you) will help you stay on top of maintenance and can extend the life of your paint job. Once there are signs of damage, such as chalking, bubbling, fading, peeling, or cracking, it's time to repaint.


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