How to Paint a Metal Roof the Right Way

Give your metal roof a long-lasting makeover by using the right paint and equipment

Julissa Arangure
Written by Julissa Arangure
Updated June 21, 2022
A red roof of a house
Photo: Costin79 / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Challenging

Only DIY if you know what you're doing.

Time to complete

24 hours

Cost

$500–$1,000

Consider letting a pro with all the equipment handle this one.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.

What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Scrub brush
  • Paint scraper
  • Ladder
  • Wire brush
  • Power washer
  • Paint roller
  • Paint brush
  • Roofing brush
  • Harness
  • Non-slip shoes

SUPPLIES

  • Primer
  • Topcoat paint

7 Steps to Paint a Metal Roof

Worker spraying paint on metal sheet roof
Photo: Tombaky / Adobe Stock

One of the main components of a long-lasting metal roof is proper paint. The national average cost to install a metal roof ranges between $5,300 and $14,700, so you should ensure that your roof remains in good shape. By following these steps to painting a metal roof, you will be able to enjoy your roof for years to come.

  1. Plan Ahead for a Dry Day

    It’s never a good idea to paint your home’s exterior on a rainy day because the water will wash the paint right off the surface. Check the weather forecast and plan ahead for a dry painting day. Try to start painting early in the day so that the paint can dry in the sunlight for a longer period of time.

  2. Remove Old Paint

    Next, carefully remove old paint with a scraper to ensure that your roof can be evenly primed. Skipping this critical step can result in lumpy paint and peeling.

  3. Get Rid of Rust Patches

    Since it’s likely been exposed to many types of weather conditions, your roof may have rust patches. You can use a wire brush to remove those pieces of rust and mold by scraping them vigorously. Once this step is complete, wash the area with soapy water and let it dry.

  4. Power Wash Your Roof

    A good rule of thumb is that you should never paint over a dirty surface, so power wash the roof before painting to get rid of dust, mildew, sand particles, and any loose paint. Hiring a professional power washer can ensure that this step is done correctly, otherwise you risk damaging your siding, screens, and other roof components. The average cost of a professional power wash is between $0.50 to $1 per square foot.

  5. Apply a Primer

    By priming your roof, you will prepare the to-be-painted surface to adhere to the incoming layers of paint, while also preventing the paint from cracking. To protect against sun and rain, make sure the primer has a titanium dioxide base. After applying the primer, let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

  6. Paint Your Roof

    Choosing a roof color is an important part of the project, so be sure you’re happy with your choice before starting this step. Make sure you consult with a roofing expert for your specific paint needs. 

    If you’re painting the roof yourself, you’ll need to wear non-slip shoes and have a harness to keep you safe. Painting with a roller is the most common tool for DIY painters, but you’ll need to ensure that it’s suited for corrugated metal and that it has a long handle for easy use. While one thick coat of paint should suffice, check the manufacturer’s instructions on your specific paint for more directions.

  7. Brush Sealant Over Your Roof

    Silicone, butyl, and polyurethane are the best type of paint sealants for metal roofs. The sealant will help protect your paint from the elements and avoid peeling. When the surface is completely dry, apply the sealant with a roof brush. A thin layer of sealant is enough to cover the surface, while adding too much can result in cracking.

Tips for a Long-Lasting Metal Roof

Although they are important, proper materials and paint are only part of the process. Follow these easy guidelines to maintain a healthier, brighter, and longer-lasting metal roof:

  • Clean your roof at least once a year to avoid paint cracking  

  • Paint your roof during the spring or fall to avoid painting during extreme weather  

  • Invest in high-quality paint to ensure its longevity

  • Use energy-efficient exterior paint to protect it from the heat 

  • If painting by yourself, make sure that safety is a priority by using the proper harness, dust mask, equipment, and shoes

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

Whether you should paint a metal roof yourself or hire a professional depends on several key factors, such as the roof quality and your skill level. Walking on a roof can be extremely dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions or have the right tools. A professional metal roof painting job costs between $1,150 and $3,655, depending on the size and the shape of the roof, as well as the type of paint. 

While you may want to tackle this job on your own to save money, consider your experience with heights, ability to spot roof damage, and experience using power tools for priming. No matter what you choose, you’ll want to inspect the roof first to look for any peeling or flaking that can indicate an adhesion issue. Plus, be sure to take care of any rust patches before you begin the project.

If you have a new roof, keep in mind that a metal roof should not be painted within six months of installation because you need to give it enough time to weather. Typically, a metal roof needs to be painted every 10 years, but sooner if there is visible damage.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.