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Can you paint a metal roof?

A Person painting a metal roof with a sprayer

Absolutely! Most but not all types of metal roofs are advisable to be painted. You must consider the types of metal roof materials to decide which kinds of paint must be use.

Can you paint galvanized metal roofing?

Yes, paint can stick to galvanized steel temporarily. However, over time, it’ll likely peel due to saponification, a process where the paint’s binder reacts with the zinc coating on the steel, creating a soapy layer. This zinc coating is meant to shield the steel from rusting.

A galvanized roof up close

When Should You Paint A Metal Roof?

End of Warranty

One of the clear indicators that it might be time to consider painting your metal roof is when the warranty is drawing to a end. Manufacturers offer warranties for specific periods, ensuring the roof’s protection against defects or degradation. As this period approaches its end, the roof’s original finish may start showing signs of wear. Applying a fresh coat of paint not only revives the appearance of your roof but also adds an extra layer of protection, potentially extending its lifespan.

Rust Formation

Certain environments accelerate the risk of rust formation on metal roofs. Places with high humidity levels or those situated close to the sea are particularly vulnerable due to the salt in the air. Before any signs of rust begin to emerge, it’s a smart move to preemptively paint your roof. Selecting the appropriate paint, particularly those formulated for rust prevention, can act as a shield, ensuring the roof remains free from corrosion and retains its structural integrity.

Favorable Weather Conditions

Painting is as much about timing as it is about the quality of paint or application technique. To achieve the best results, the weather conditions should be optimal. Dry and moderate temperatures are the best, ensuring the paint dries evenly and adheres well to the metal surface. Extreme cold during winter months in Wyoming for example can cause the paint to thicken and not spread smoothly, while excessive heat can lead to rapid drying. You’ll almost never see roof paining in the summer-time of Nevada. Wind introduces another set of challenges, bringing with it dust, leaves, and other debris that can stick to wet paint, compromising the final finish.

Post New Installation

While the allure of a brand-new shiny galvanized metal roof is undeniable, patience is crucial if you’re considering adding a splash of color. Galvanized roofs have a protective layer of zinc, and it’s advisable to allow this layer to naturally weather for approximately six months before introducing paint. This interval ensures that the paint bonds more effectively with the roof’s surface, offering a durable and long-lasting finish.

When Should You Refrain From Painting A Metal Roof?

Copper Roofing

Copper roofs have a unique characteristic that sets them apart from other metal roofs because of their ability to undergo a natural transformation in color. Over time, when exposed to the elements, a copper roof will change from its initial bright bronze hue to a distinctive green shade. This green finish is termed “patina,” a result of natural oxidation.

Many homeowners and architects treasure this verdant hue, viewing it as a testament to the roof’s age and a marker of classic elegance. On the other hand, some individuals have a fondness for the roof’s initial bronze shade and might want to keep it that way.

For those who fall into the latter category and wish to maintain the original color without applying paint, there’s an alternative: a clear protective coating. This transparent layer safeguards the metal, retaining its initial color without altering its appearance with paint.

A picture of copper metal roof in "patina " finish

Warranty Considerations

When making the decision to paint a metal roof, one essential factor to take into account is the roof’s warranty. The majority of metal roofs come with warranties from manufacturers that guarantee the product against specific defects or degradation for a predetermined period. However, painting over the factory finish can potentially void this warranty.

Rushing to add a new color or protective layer, homeowners should thoroughly review their warranty terms. If your roof is still under warranty, it’s prudent to hold off on painting or consult with the manufacturer or a roofing expert.

The Types of Paint for Metal Roof

Acrylic-Based Paint

These are water-based paints that are commonly used because they are environmentally friendly, resist fading, and adhere well to metal surfaces.

Silicone-Based Coatings

Known for their impressive durability, these paints can withstand harsh weather conditions and offer excellent water resistance.

Polyester Coatings

These provide good color retention and durability, making them a popular choice for many homeowners.

PVDF (Polyvinylidene Fluoride) Coatings

These coatings are premium quality and offer exceptional UV protection, color retention, and corrosion resistance.

Elastomeric Coatings

These paints are beneficial for their waterproofing capabilities and are often used in regions with heavy rainfall.

The most common paint for different metal roof materials

The best paint for metal roofs such as iron, zinc, aluminum, steel, tin, or rib metal, for a new metal roof or one with old paint is acrylic latex paint. You will need oil-based paint if you have a classic home with a terne metal roof. SOURCE

Terne Metal Roof not painted

Cost of Metal Roof Paint

The cost can vary significantly based on the type of paint, its quality, the brand, and the region you’re in. Here’s a general guideline:

Paint TypeAverage Cost
Acrylic-Based Paints$20-$40 per gallon.
Polyester Coatings$40-$60 per gallon.
Silicone-Based Coatings$50-$75 per gallon.
Elastomeric Coatings$50-$90 per gallon.
Polyvinylidene fluoride Coatings (PVDF)$65-$100 or more per gallon.

How long does the metal roof paint last?

When applied correctly and after thorough preparation, metal roof paint can indeed provide a durable finish that lasts between 10 to 15 years. Proper preparation ensures better adhesion of the paint, while the right application technique ensures a uniform and protective layer.


If you’re planning on painting your metal roof, we recommend you start by doing your homework. What type of metal is your roof? If you’re going to paint it, take the time to prep the surface of your metal roof. Review the weather and pick the best time to do the work. Check to see if your roof has a warranty. Research how large your metal roof is to determine how much paint you will need.

After determining how much paint and the cost, we recommend you get a quote to see if it’s actually worth your time and safety. Determine if it’s better to DIY it vs hiring a professional. This is a complicated task and the paints you’ll be using are not like what you may have experiencing using.

Fact Checked by Karen Del Rosario – 8/18/23