Can you paint a metal roof? In many cases, yes! This expert article looks at the benefits and drawbacks of painting metal roofing, discusses typical costs of painting metal roofing, and explores types of metal roofs that should not be painted.

Does your home have a metal roof that’s beginning to look a bit timeworn due to weather exposure? If so, painting it might just be the answer! Painting a metal roof can give it a fresh and vibrant look—and add an extra layer of protection against the elements.

spray painting metal roof
Painting a metal roof with a light color can save energy costs during hot summer months. Spray painting is easiest. Don Vandervort | HomeTips

But before you bust out the paint, there are a few things you should know—though painting a metal roof can be a real winner, it isn’t always the right choice. Some metals—like galvanized steel—require very careful preparation before painting or the finish may peel. And some metal roofs shouldn’t be painted at all. For example, some types of metal roofs have a specialized coating, such as a Kynar coating, that protects the roof from weathering and fading. Painting over this coating can compromise the roof’s durability and lifespan.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of painting a metal roof along with some relevant considerations, to help you make the right decision. For information about using roof coatings (instead of paint), see Choosing the Right Metal Roof Coating.

Pros of Painting a Metal Roof

What are some of the benefits of painting a metal roof? Here are a few:

Enhanced curb appeal. This is a no-brainer. Increasing curb appeal is one of the top reasons for painting a metal roof. A fresh coat of paint can instantly lift your home’s look and increase its value.

A black sheet metal roof with lines of snow.
Dark-toned metal roofing is great in snow country because it is excellent at melting and shedding snow. ©Zsolt Biczo / Shutterstock

Protecting your roof. Painting a metal roof can help protect it from UV rays, rain, and wind, extending the roof’s life and preventing damage over time. A new coat of paint can buy your roof additional years—or sometimes decades—before a full roof replacement is needed, saving you the big bucks. Metal roof replacements can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000+, depending on materials and roofing conditions.

Improving energy efficiency. Certain types of paint and light-colored roofs can reflect much of the sun’s energy skyward, helping to cut down on heat gain during the day. This means you’ll need less air conditioning, saving on energy bills. Dark-colored roofs can help melt away snow and ice in cold regions.

Cost savings. In addition to being a cost-effective alternative to replacing your roof altogether, painting a roof can also prevent the need for other maintenance and repairs. A quality paint job can prolong your roof’s lifespan by preventing rust and other damage from the elements.

Cons of Painting a Metal Roof

Though there are several benefits of painting a metal roof, there are also a few drawbacks and, as discussed below, not all metal roofs are suitable for painting. Here are some drawbacks:

Initial cost. Even though painting a metal roof can save you money in the long run, having a metal roof painted can be expensive, especially if you have it done professionally. For more about the cost, see How Much Does Painting a Metal Roof Cost? below.

Limited color selection. A roof is a big, very visible surface on a home’s exterior, so its color is very important. With metal roof paints, you may find that there is a fairly limited range of colors to choose from.

Regular maintenance is required. Painted metal roofs need maintenance to keep them in good condition. Every year, they should be inspected for wear, rust, or missing paint, and they should be cleaned.  In addition, touch-up work may be necessary every few years to keep the roof looking great—so it pays to keep some extra paint around for touch-ups.

How Much Does Painting a Metal Roof Cost?

The cost of painting a metal roof can vary based on several factors, including the size of the roof, the type of paint used, the condition of the existing coating, and whether you paint it yourself or hire a professional.

DIY Metal Roof Painting

The total cost for a DIY roof painting project can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the project’s size and complexity. The cost of materials is usually the biggest expense. On average, a gallon of high-quality metal roof paint can cost between $30 to $50. The coverage of one gallon will vary, depending on the specific product and the surface being painted. In general, one gallon of paint will cover between 100-150 square feet of metal roofing with a single coat. Factors such as the surface texture of the roof, the condition of the metal, and the specific type of paint being used will all affect this estimated coverage. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and/or discuss your project with a professional painter or paint dealer to determine the amount of paint you’ll need.

In addition, you’ll need to factor in the cost of primer, cleaning supplies, ladders and similar rental equipment, and any necessary tools.

Professional Metal Roof Painting

When hiring a professional, the cost will be higher because you’ll also be paying for labor—but you’ll have the benefit of expert knowledge and experience. The cost of hiring a professional varies depending on several factors, such as the roof’s size, the level of service needed, and specific details of the project, but on average, you can expect to pay between $1.50 to $4.00 per square foot. This means that having a 2,000 square-foot roof professionally painted could cost between $3,000 to $8,000.

To get a more accurate estimate or a solid bid for painting your roof, get 2 to 3 quotes from professional painters. Land on the best price by comparing their bids.

Can Your Metal Roof Be Painted?

Most but not all types of metal roofs can be painted, and only certain types of paint are appropriate for particular types of metal roofing. Following is a discussion of the various types of metal roofs and recommendations for painting—or not painting—them.

Always check your metal roof’s warranty before painting over the factory’s surface coating. Metal roof warranties can last up to 50 years, but most will become void if you paint over the original surface.

Type of metal roofing

Common types of metal roofing include steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc. Each of these metals has different properties and, as such, each requires different types of paint. It’s important to choose a paint that is specifically designed for your particular type of metal roof.

Aluminum roofing is also commonly used. It can be painted using acrylic, polyester, or fluoropolymer paint. Unpainted aluminum roofing has a natural oxide layer that provides protection against the elements, so painting it is not recommended.

Copper roofing is known for its natural beauty and patina, so it is rarely painted. If painting it is required, use only a high-quality metal paint designed for use on copper.

Galvanized steel roofing. If you have a brand new galvanized steel roof, wait 6 to 8 months before painting it to let the materials weather and shed any oils leftover from the manufacturing process. If you want to paint immediately, consult a professional painter.

Steel roofing is the most common. It can be painted using a variety of different paints, including acrylic paint, polyester paint, and silicone-modified polyester paint.

Zinc roofing should not be painted, as the natural patina that forms on the surface of the zinc provides protection against corrosion and other forms of damage.

Surface Condition

Before painting a metal roof, it’s important to ensure that the roof is in good condition. The roof must be cleaned and any rust, corrosion, or damage should be repaired before painting to ensure the best results. See How to Clean and Repair Metal Roofing.

Climate and Local Restrictions

Consider the local climate, building codes, and any homeowner association guidelines before making a decision about painting your metal roof. The weather that’s typical for your region can have an effect on certain types of finishes. Some homeowner associations may have restrictions on colors.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking to improve your home’s aesthetic appeal while also increasing energy efficiency and extending your roof’s lifespan, painting a metal roof can be a great investment. However, if the cost doesn’t fit your budget or maintenance requirements are more than you want to commit to, you might be better off considering an alternative solution like just having your roof cleaned.

Did we answer all of your questions about the benefits and drawbacks of painting metal roofs? Please check out the “Conversation” at the bottom of the page if you’d like to explore this topic further.


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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” served as MSN’s home expert for several years, and is featured as Yelp's home improvement expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort