Can You Paint A Metal Roof? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Kenneth Wilson

Metal can be a cheaper alternative roofing material for buildings of all sizes, from garden sheds to your home! Some galvanized metal roof sheeting comes with coatings of various colors or coatings to cover the bare steel look. (Related: Roof Replacement Cost & Consumer Guide) If you want to paint your metal roof as a DIY project, is it possible, or should it be professionally done?

It is possible to paint a metal roof if you take the necessary precautions to clean and prepare the surface correctly, lay down an appropriate metal primer, and select the correct type of paint. Choosing a day with the correct weather conditions is crucial to completing the job.

Metal can be a cost-effective roof covering, and it can be installed faster than many other roof types because it comes in sheets. One of the negatives of a metal roof is that it can look very industrial if not painted. However, a paint job on the metal roof that is not done correctly can make the roof look worse than the bare metal and may result in the finish having limited longevity. 

Can you Paint a Galvanized Roof?

Painting a metal roof is a good way to improve the roof's look and make it a feature that fits the look you want for the building. Painting the metal roof improves the look of the roof and has other benefits that you should be aware of.

Painting a metal roof offers the following benefits:

  • Reduced heat absorption: The layer of paint on a metal roof reduces the amount of heat the metal absorbs. This can cool the interior of the structure as well as reduce reflected heat in courtyards and other areas around the building. 
  • Save money on utilities: If the metal roof is on your home or your workshop, the paint will keep the interior cooler, reducing the need for expensive, energy-hungry air conditioning, which allows you to save money on energy consumption. 
  • Increase longevity of the roof: The paint acts as a barrier from the elements and helps to protect the metal roof from developing rust spots, particularly in the locations where it is fastened to the underlying structure. 
  • Improves the aesthetics of the structure: Whether the metal roof is on your home or your garden shed, a coat of fresh paint will certainly add eye-candy value to the structure. 

Equipment Needed to Paint a Metal Roof

To paint your metal roof, you are going to need some equipment that you may not ordinarily have on hand. This may require an excursion to your local hardware store, but for most DIY people, this is not a hardship!

You will need the following equipment to paint your metal roof:

  • A tall ladder - A ladder that reaches comfortably to your roof is needed for safety and to gain good reach of as much of the roof as possible. 
  • A telescoping paint roller extender - A telescoping extension for a paint roller is indispensable for this job. It is safest to do this job from the ladder rather than climb onto the roof. 
  • Two paint rollers - Two separate paint rollers are needed, one for the primer and one for the paint. 
  • A scraper - A metal scraper is a good item to have should you need to scrape any dirt or grime off the metal roof. 
  • A pressure washer - If you are feeling extravagant at the hardware store, you can invest in a pressure washer, making the cleaning process easier; otherwise, a hosepipe with a sprayer will do. 
  • A stiff bristle brush - A brush with stiff bristles, preferably one that can fit on the extender pole, is useful to scrub the roof clean. 
  • Metal primer - You will need some metal primer as an undercoat on the roof.
  • Paint - The quantity of paint your need is dependent on your roof surface area, so be sure you know these numbers when buying your paint.  

Some additional items you may need that you won't find at the hardware store are ordinary household vinegar. 

Preparing a Metal Roof for Paint

The success and longevity of the paint on the metal roof will come down to the level of preparation that is done on the surface before you paint. We are focusing here on painting a bare metal roof, but if you have a previously painted metal roof, you may need to remove the old paint with a paint stripper before continuing. If the old paint on the roof is in reasonable condition and not flaking off, you may be able to leave it on and paint over it.

The roof must be thoroughly cleaned and inspected for additional preparation that needs to be done. Start by spraying the roof down by using your pressure washer or your garden hose with a sprayer. This will wash all the dirt away so you can get a clear picture of the condition of the roof.

If there are some rust spots, they need to be cleaned before laying down the primer and paint. This is where the scraper comes in. use the scraper to scrape away any stubborn dirt as well as any surface rust.

If the rust is more than superficial, pour some vinegar on the rust spots and let the vinegar soak into the rust for a minute or two, and then use the scraper to remove the rust. It should come off fairly easily.

Wash the roof again and allow at least an hour for the roof to before moving on to the primer.

Primer for a Metal Roof

Before applying the primer and the paint, you should check the weather forecast to make sure no rain is expected in the forecast for a day or two. An unexpected rain shower can wreak havoc on your roof painting plans! 

The primer you select for your metal roof should be a product that is designed specifically for metal the type of metal roof you haveGalvanized metal requires a different primer to non-galvanized metal. Your local hardware or paint shop will be able to advise you on the best product to select. 

Apply the primer using one of the rollers, using the telescoping extension to reach the far reaches of the roof. You will only need to apply a single coat of the primer, but make sure the coating is thick. Cover the entire metal roof with primer and give it at least one hour to dry before applying the paint. 

Paint for a Metal Roof

The paint that you select should be a product that is designed for the type of metal roof you have. Acrylic-based paint is usually the best paint choice for galvanized metal, but older roof sheeting that is non-galvanized requires an oil-based paint to ensure the paint adheres to the surface and is long-lasting.

You will in all likelihood need a minimum of least two coats of paint on the metal to provide a durable layer that is resistant to fading and will protect the roof and remain looking good on your roof for a long time.

Use a fresh roller on the extender pole to apply the paint. Do not use the same roller that you used to apply the primer unless you wash it out thoroughly first.

Once the first coat of roof paint has been applied, wait at least an hour or the minimum recommended time on the paint can before applying the second coat. Applying the second coat before the first coat is dry will cause the paint to bubble and peel off.

Once the second coat is done, you can start wrapping up the job and clean all your equipment. Then stand back and admire your handiwork!


It is not only possible to paint a metal roof, but it is preferable to do so for the benefits provided by the paint. The paint protects the roof, makes the interior cooler and improves the roof's aesthetic appeal.

As with any paintwork, thorough preparation and selecting the right primer and paint is crucial for the project's success and for achieving a professional-looking finish!

Kenneth Wilson
October 17, 2021
Contractor Tips, Roofing

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

Ask The Author Your Question In The Comments!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

More From This Author

9 of the Best Ring Security Cameras: Home Security 101
Where You Should Place Security Cameras Around Your Home: Best Locations
How Long Do SimpliSafe Camera Batteries Last?
SimpliSafe vs. Ring: Which Home Security System is Best Suited for Your Needs?
The Best Plug-in Outdoor Security Lights to Keep Your Home Safe
Everything You Need to Know About Residential Laser Grid Security Systems