Can You Paint Roof Shingles?

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 22, 2024

Asphalt shingles can show signs of wear long before they’ve exceeded their life span. If you don’t need a new roof but want a quick refresh, consider painting your roofing shingles.

This process can be completed without a professional’s help and can offer several benefits, such as increased energy efficiency and a fresher-looking roof. Before you get started, consider the potential drawbacks and requirements of taking on this project. In our guide below, we’ll review the pros and cons of painting shingles and provide step-by-step instructions for you to complete this project.

Why Consider Painting Roof Shingles?

If your shingles are structurally sound, reshingling or replacing them would be an unnecessary expense. Painting your shingles, however, can give your roof a new look without breaking the bank. Here are a few reasons why homeowners choose to paint their roof shingles:

Benefits and Drawbacks of Painting Roof Shingles

While painting your roof can provide several benefits, some factors could deter you from this project. Compare the following benefits and drawbacks to determine whether painting your roof shingles is right for you.



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Choosing the Right Paint for Roof Shingles

The paint you choose for your shingles is critical. Many types of paint won’t withstand the elements, and some can trap moisture. Purchase a high-quality water-based 100% acrylic latex paint formulated especially for asphalt shingles. Water-based paint allows moisture to escape from the shingles, preventing algae and mold growth. Avoid elastomeric (waterproofing) paint because it traps moisture in the shingles, leading to mold and algae growth.

If you’re unsure which paint can be used on asphalt shingles, contact a roofing contractor.

The Process of Painting Roof Shingles

To achieve optimal results, you need to take several steps to prepare the roof and apply paint. This may include cleaning, making repairs, and applying multiple coats of paint.

Preparing the Roof

Before you paint your asphalt shingle roof, follow these steps:

  1. Get a roof inspection: A professional inspection will tell you if your roof needs repairs or has passed its life expectancy. It’s common for an inspection to reveal damaged or cracked shingles, which will need to be replaced before painting.
  2. Gather the necessary supplies: You’ll need various tools and materials to complete your roof painting project. Make sure you have an extension ladder, spray gun and pump, ventilation mask, protective clothing, tarps, safety equipment, primer, paint, and sealant. Calculate the amount of paint you’ll need with the estimation that a gallon of paint will cover approximately 100 square feet in a single coat.
  3. Check the weather before you schedule your project: It can take your paint up to 24 hours to fully cure after the paint job is complete. In addition to curing time, each layer of paint will need about six to eight hours to dry before you apply the next layer.
  4. Clean the roof: Your shingles must be completely clean and dry before applying paint. The paint won’t adhere properly if dirt and debris are left behind or the surface contains moisture.
  5. Prime the roof: Using your sprayer, apply primer as directed by the manufacturer’s directions. Allow the primer to dry for about an hour or as outlined by the manufacturer.

Painting the Shingles

Follow these guidelines for a smooth and lasting paint job:

  1. Set up drop cloths for protection: Plastic drop cloths and other protective materials will protect your home’s exterior and the surrounding plants from overspray while you paint. Place protective materials around your home before you begin painting.
  2. Plan how you’ll apply the paint: While you can choose to apply paint over the entire roof at once, dividing it into sections can make painting easier. Painting in sections also allows you to coat everything evenly and efficiently.
  3. Apply roof paint to the shingles: Using your sprayer, apply the paint in a thin, even coat. Don’t aim for full coverage—use even strokes to create a smooth coat over the entire surface.
  4. Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before applying the second coat: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how long the paint will take to dry between coats. Most paint will take six to eight hours to dry, and it must be fully dry before applying a second coat. Apply the second coat following the procedure you used for the first coat.
  5. Assess whether a third coat is needed: In some cases, two coats will provide sufficient coverage. If you see thin spots or patchy coverage, allow the second coat to dry before applying a final coat of paint.
  6. Apply sealant: A clear protective topcoat will provide an extra layer of UV protection to help your paint last longer and protect your shingles from wear. After the paint is fully dry, apply sealant using your spray gun.

Maintaining Painted Shingles

While paint adds a protective layer to your roofing materials, painted shingles have additional maintenance requirements. Freshly painted shingles look smooth, but the naturally rough surface created by the exterior granules makes paint susceptible to chipping. Once paint is compromised, water can seep under the paint layers and cause mold growth.

Your roof needs frequent inspections to prevent damage to your shingles. Schedule an inspection once a year to find signs of paint bubbling, peeling, or chipping. After an inspection, you may need to complete repairs to ensure the paint remains in good condition.

With proper maintenance, a well-maintained paint job can last several years. However, it isn’t likely to last for the life span of your roof. Depending on your climate, you may need to repaint the shingles in four to seven years. This will require stripping away the existing paint, making necessary repairs, and fully priming and painting the roof again.

Our Recommendation

Painting roof shingles is an affordable way to refresh the exterior of your home. With the right supplies and knowledge, you can complete the job yourself. To achieve optimal results, purchase primer, paint, and sealant designed for shingle roofs and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the products.

If you can’t safely work on your roof or don’t have time, contact a professional roofing contractor to perform the job. Your roofer can help you color-match paint and ensure your roof is painted and sealed properly.

Can You Paint Roof Shingles FAQ

Is painting roof shingles a good idea?

If your shingles are structurally sound and your roof isn’t damaged, painting roof shingles is a great way to update your home. However, painting shingles can be difficult and may require the help of a professional. If you feel uncomfortable completing the task yourself, consider hiring a professional roofing contractor.

Will paint come off roof shingles?

Paint will come off roof shingles over time. To keep your roof in optimal shape, conduct an annual inspection and perform touch-ups as needed. Expect to repaint your roof within four to seven years.

Do roof coatings work on shingles?

There are special paints, primers, and sealants designed for application on shingle roofs, one of the most popular being silicone roof coatings. These coatings are extremely waterproof, withstand the elements, and are resistant to hardening and embrittling. If you’re unsure which coating is best for your roof, contact a local roofing contractor to help you make a decision.

Do you need to prime roof shingles before painting them?

It’s essential to prime roof shingles before painting them. Choose a quality primer designed for use on asphalt shingles and apply it as directed.