Can I paint the roof shingles?

Many homeowners wonder if you can paint shingles. This guide will look at shingle painting, including the process, benefits, disadvantages, and costs. Most contractors will recommend replacing shingles rather than painting them. But there are cases where painting roof shingles might work for your needs.

Do I Need to Paint Roof Shingles?

If you're tired of having asphalt shingles that clash with your exterior's color scheme, you may have the idea of shingle painting. When you use the correct type of paint, you can change the look of your roof without the high expense of replacing your entire roof. 

The best type of paint to use for asphalt shingles is acrylic - it has to be exterior paint. An elastomeric paint would also work due to the paint's stretchiness, although this paint can trap moisture, causing your shingles to grow mold or algae. This type of paint is best left to a pro painter, who can get higher-quality elastomeric paint than is sold at stores.

Given that improper application of paint to shingles can reduce the effectiveness of your roof, asphalt shingles painting is a job best left to professionals. Skip the DIY and call in a pro. 

Benefits of Painting Roof Shingles

Now that you know it is possible to paint asphalt roof shingles, let's look at the benefits of doing so. 

  • A cost-effective way to give your roof a new look

The most significant advantage is that you can change the appearance of your roof without paying a ton of money. Speaking of which, the costs saved from painting a roof instead of replacing it are another huge benefit.

  • Minimal prepping

Another great thing about painting asphalt shingles is that there's little prep work, allowing you to save costs on labor when hiring a professional painter. And the job will be done faster, allowing minimal interruptions from loud workers.

  • Environmentally friendly

Instead of replacing them with new material, painting your shingles can also be environmentally friendly, as your old shingles won't be filling up a landfill. 

  • Energy savings

If you use energy-efficient colors, you could end up saving money on your energy bills. Using a paint color that reflects 40% to 50% of solar light can result in up to 20% savings of cooling bills. A roof painted white can reflect as much as 80% of sunlight. Dark colors are better for cool climates where you want to absorb heat. 

  • Increased lifespan of shingles

And finally, painting your asphalt shingles can increase the product's lifespan by offering more protection from the elements. 

Disadvantages of Painting Roof Shingles

Despite the many benefits of painting an asphalt shingle, there are also some disadvantages of which to be aware. 

  • Requires frequent touch-ups

To keep your shingles in good condition, so they last the expected lifespan, you'll have to do frequent touch-ups every five to seven years or sooner. Rain, snow, wind, and sunlight will fade paint faster than it would on your exterior walls. 

  • Difficult to DIY and might have extra costs

Due to the preparations needed to paint an entire roof, it's not a simple DIY job. You'll have to pay the costs of labor and materials for repainting your roof multiple times throughout your shingles' lifecycle, meaning a lot of money out of your pocket. If you don't have the proper equipment, you'll face additional costs for safety gear (safety harness, ladder, safety shoes) and a painting applicator. Each paint touch-up requires that you clean, repair, paint, and then prime the shingles.

  • Acrylic paints are less durable.

Another downside is that while exterior acrylic paints can withstand exposure to the elements, they aren't durable enough for use on a roof. This type of paint can crack and peel as shingles flex with temperature changes.

  • Requires multiple coats per touch up

Because asphalt shingles have a rough texture, it requires multiple coats of paint to get full coverage using a paint sprayer. This downside means you'll have to purchase (or pay a roofer) multiple containers of color - a higher cost.

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  • Fewer experienced roofers

Finding a roofing contractor with the equipment, experience, and knowledge of painting asphalt shingles can also be challenging. Painted shingles are not a request that contractors get enough to make it a service they usually offer. It's crucial to pick a contractor that knows the process and proper materials. 

Paint Buying Tips

Picking the correct paint for your asphalt shingles requires special consideration. 

The best paint for your shingles is 100% acrylic latex. This type of paint will work for asphalt, clay, or wood shingles, allowing for versatile use. Acrylic latex paint can bond with the shingles for a better hold and performance. 

Despite common belief, waterproof paints aren't suitable for roofs because these paints can stop existing moisture from drying, leading to a rotted roof. A professional has access to higher quality waterproof paints that will work better than paints bought at a home improvement store.

Painting Roof Shingles Estimated costs

So, how much does it cost to paint asphalt shingles? If you want to DIY the job, you can expect to pay around $500. This total price includes necessary equipment, primer, paint rollers, and paint. Be ready to pay more if you have a large roof. The cost for a contractor to do the job can range from $2,500 to $4,500.

Price Breakdown for DIY Painting Roof Shingles

  • A gallon of paint (400 sq foot coverage) - $30-$40
    • Rollers and paint tray - $60-$100 
    • Additional equipment (ladder, safety harness, paint sprayer) - $300 and up

Price Breakdown for Professional Paint Job

Hiring a professional to paint your roof shingles costs a great deal more than DIY. However, you'll get better quality from an experienced roofer than trying the job yourself if you have zero experience. Factors that affect the price of a pro job include:

  • Roof pitch
  • The surface area of the roof
  • Cleaning
  • Repairs
  • Priming
  • Roof shape

It's best to get quotes from multiple contractors to determine where you'll get the best deal. The price can vary by professional, based on individual rates. 

Recommended Paint Brands

You'll get the best results from painting roof shingles by using the proper paint. Here are a few of the best brands of roof shingles paint.

  • Behr Multi-Surface Roof Paint

This paint is one of the few options specifically formulated for use on asphalt and other roofing shingle materials. You won't have to worry about mildew or fading. You can only find this brand sold at Home Depot, and not all locations will carry it. You may be able to get your local store to order it for you, costing around $0.36 a square foot.

  • Sherwin-Williams Kool Seal Premium Roof Paint

Another suitable option for painting roofs is from Sherwin-Williams, the largest manufacturer of paint in North America. The Kool Seal Premium roof paint is also UV and mildew resistant. You can find this paint at a variety of stores or order online. This paint brand costs around $1 a square foot. 

How to Maintain the Roof Paint?

Painted roof shingles require frequent touch-ups to ensure your roof stays looking great. There's little maintenance necessary. However, you should do the following:

  • Inspections - after each significant storm and every 12-18 months.
  • Touch-ups - Repaint areas as soon as they show signs of damage (strip old paint, prime, and paint), even if it's only one shingle.
  • Tackle repairs and touch-ups as needed, rather than waiting for the whole roof to need upgrades. If there's an issue, it can spread quickly to other parts of the roof.

Conclusion

Not only can you paint roof shingles, but you should if you want to increase your shingle's lifespan while giving them a new look. When painting roof shingles, it's crucial to use the proper paint (100% exterior acrylic latex). And it's also essential that you do routine inspections and touch up any problem areas as soon as the issues become apparent. 

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