Can You Paint Shingles?

Maybe those slate gray shingles just don’t look as good on your house as they did on the brochure. Maybe you inherited a roof in a truly tragic shade of brown. Or maybe you’re just ready for something new. Whatever your reason, if you’re considering painting your home’s shingles, you’re not alone.

While not a frequent request, roofers do occasionally get asked about paint jobs—and many will happily complete the work for you. In fact, you can even DIY this project, as long as you choose the correct paint type. But don’t jump into this job without weighing the pros and cons first. Some homeowners find that they don’t like the appearance of their newly painted shingles, so it can definitely pay to read up on it first. Here’s what you need to know to do it right.

shingles-on-victorian-roof

How to Select Your Paint

If you want to paint your shingles, don’t think you can just drag out a can of exterior paint and call it a day. Specialized roof paints, like Behr’s Multi-Surface acrylic latex, are formulated to survive the challenges inherent to roof surfaces. Specifically, they purport to resist mildew and algae and stand up to the high heat found on rooftops. Roof surface temperatures regularly reach up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, so the paint needs to be extra durable in order to stop it from cracking and chipping. Roof paints also adhere properly to asphalt, wood shakes, tile, and other roofing materials. As with any project, it pays not to go with a bargain brand—cheaper coatings may cause problems with your roof down the line.

Roof Paint Will Require Touch Ups

With any luck, your unpainted roof will last you up to 20 years or longer, and stay relatively maintenance-free. However, when you decide to paint your shingles, the surface will need to be repainted several times in that twenty-year lifespan. In fact, experts estimate that a painted roof must be redone every five to seven years. That means you’ll need to make a pretty significant commitment to repainting if you make this change to your roof.

Painted Roofs May Have Problems With Excess Moisture

While not necessarily true in every instance, if you paint your roof, it’s possible that it may exhibit problems with excess moisture. Painting could potentially trap condensation below the outer coating. That winds up becoming a problem, since a wet roof encourages the growth of mold and algae, both of which can eventually damage the surface. Or it may hasten the rotting of the decking below the shingles, which could potentially cause leaks inside your home. Be careful to read the reviews for any coating you apply to your roof. Additionally, some experts advise homeowners to avoid elastomeric roofing paints, because they believe this can exacerbate these issues.

blue-shingles

If You Decide to Paint Your Roof, You May Have Trouble Finding a Contractor

Unless you plan on painting your roof yourself, you may have to hunt around to find a contractor that will do the work for you. The reason isn’t that painting isn’t safe for your roof—rather, it’s that most roofers just don’t have experience doing it. Professional roofers don’t want to guarantee a service that they don’t know much about. In fact, painting shingles is such a rare request that some roofers have no idea it can even be done. If you don’t have many roofing professionals in your area, you may have to just give in and paint it yourself. And since you’ll be working on top of the roof, DIYing may be dangerous if you don’t take proper precautions. To prevent falls, don’t work when the surface is wet, and always wear foot gear with treads to keep you from slipping.

Reflective Roof Paint Could Potentially Reduce AC Expenses

When you begin browsing around for roof paint, you may notice a good deal of white roof coatings on the market. Painting a roof with reflective or white paint is a popular green improvement, which can potentially lower a home’s energy expenses—especially in hotter climates. As a roof top heats up, the interior below absorbs heat through the ceiling. And most shingles tend to get pretty hot, since they’re generally darker-colored. However, a white surface reflects this heat back, meaning the home stays cooler overall. But while this measure is recommended by some energy professionals, not everyone agrees that it’s such a smart idea. Some recent studies have shown that white roof surfaces actually contribute to global warming by reducing cloud coverage in the area. Still, if painting your roof is on your home to-do list, this could be a good way to improve your energy efficiency at the same time.

While roof paint may seem like a strange notion at first, it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility. However, if you have an older roof, you might just want to wait and get a new set of shingles—especially if you’re worried about the risks that come with the territory. The choice is yours!

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