Menu Close

The Pros and Cons of Painting Roof Shingles

If you’ve bought a house, you may just hate the color of the asphalt roofing shingles. Or you may have a house or shed with stylish wooden shingles, but they definitely look like they’ve seen better days. You really don’t have the funds to replace them right now, especially those wooden ones. Is Painting roof shingles an option?

Yes, painting roof shingles is a great option to give your roof shingles a new look at the fraction of the cost of replacing them.

Pros and Cons of Painting Roof Shingles

Painting Asphalt Type Roof Shingles


  • Life Expectancy – Painting asphalt shingles actually increases their life expectancy. This is because the asphalt absorbs heat from the sun and holds onto it. This eventually dries out the asphalt, leading to cracked or broken shingles eventually. Paint will protect the shingles from the sun somewhat, especially if the paint is a light color that reflects the sun.
  • Clean Look – If your shingles look a little dated or old, or there is a patch or two in a different color, painting the shingles can give a whole new look to your house, and the effect will carry over to the general appearance of the house.
  • Cost – It’s certainly less expensive to paint your shingles rather than replacing them or putting another layer on top of the old if it’s allowed.
  • Environmentally Friendly – Painting is a more environmentally friendly procedure, as asphalt shingles are not recyclable.

Painting Asphalt Type Roof Shingles


  • Professional Application – Painting asphalt shingles can be tricky, and it’s far better to hire a professional with some experience painting these shingles than to attempt it yourself. This is especially true if you have a steep roof. Painters have harnesses, safety ropes and anchor points that you’d have to buy if doing it yourself. It’s just not worth the risk on a steep roof.

You may find a painter who has access to special paint that seals better. However, these products are not widely known or used yet, so be a bit wary of any warranties or guarantees the painter might make.

  • More Maintenance – You’ll have to touch up the paint more often than you’d like.
  • Repairs Cost More – Not only will you need a roofer to repair any roof leaks or damage to shingles in the future, but he’ll also have to repaint the new shingles.
  • Possible Insurance Problems – You’ll need to check with your homeowner’s insurance company before deciding to paint the shingles. Many companies don’t like the idea of paint on the shingles, as it’s not commonly done, and its effectiveness is unknown. If you paint the shingles without checking with the insurance company and you later have a claim involving your roof, the company may disallow the claim.
  • Painting Problems – Painting asphalt shingles really should be done with a paint sprayer. The surface is rough, and a brush or roller just won’t do the job. In addition, it will require several coats of paint rather than just two.
  • Special Paint – You’ll need special paint for these shingles. Your typical exterior latex or oil-based paint just isn’t up to the task. Avoid paint with waterproofing, as this can trap moisture in the shingles.

Some advocate water-based acrylic paint, but elastomeric paint will stretch and cope with the expansion and contraction of the shingles better than other types. However, this paint can contribute to moisture problems with certain brands. It’s better to leave the choice up to the professional painter but do ask him what type of paint he plans to use.

Painting Wooden Type Roof Shingles


  • Heat Reflection – Painting asphalt shingles can result in lower utility bills if you use light-colored paint, especially if it has reflective qualities. It will reflect more of the sun’s rays, keeping the shingles from absorbing them and aging more quickly.
  • Protection – Paint protects the wood from weathering and can add to the lifespan of the shingles. The shingles can last around 12 to 15 years. It also protects the wood better from the sun’s heat.
  • Improved Look – With paint on the wood, you will have a look that will last for years. The shingles themselves will fade to a gray color over time. This is still an attractive look, but if you choose your shingles based on how they look with the home’s overall color, the change may not be what you want.

Painting Wooden Type Roof Shingles


  • Increased Maintenance – The shingles will need to be repainted more often than is convenient, usually every seven to ten years. However, if you have one side of the house that is usually shaded, you may only need to repaint the sunny side, although this works better with stain.
  • Inspection Problems – With painted shingles, it may well be harder to spot little problems before they become big ones. A shingle could have some water or moisture damage creeping in underneath, but the paint will hide it longer.
  • Stain May Be Better – With wooden shingles, most people who want a specific color will choose to stain the shingles rather than paint them. It allows the beauty of the wood to show through instead of covering it up. Most people choose wooden shingles because of the look, or at least it’s a big factor in the choice.
  • Touch Ups May Show – If you have to touch up some shingles or replace them and repaint the new ones, the new paint may stand out if the paint on the rest of the roof paint is aging.

What Prep is Required to Paint Roof Shingles

Asphalt Shingles – If you’re going to tackle the job yourself, be sure to clean the roof thoroughly. While doing this, be on the lookout for any damaged, cracked or missing shingles. These should be replaced before painting. Cover all the roof fixtures using scraps of cardboard and painter’s tape.

You’ll need a primer that will go with the paint. The primer should dry for at least two days before applying paint. Try to paint on a warm, not hot, day, as this will allow the paint to dry much more quickly.

Follow the manufacturers’ recommendation as to how long to allow between coats of paint. Your supplier can advise you as to how many coats you’ll need for the particular paint you purchase.

If you’ve never used a paint sprayer, it might take a little while to get the hang of spraying an even coat everywhere. There’s a tendency to spray too heavy a coat when changing direction. You might want to practice a bit on some scrap wood to get the feel of it.

Wood Shingles – It’s best to prime and paint wood shingles when they’re new since the effects of weather can alter their paint ability. If you’re painting an existing roof, some sections may be discolored or look darker. This is caused by natural tannins escaping from the wood and by mildew.

Clean off the shingles thoroughly and repair or replace any damaged ones. Remove any signs of mildew with a sponge soaked in a 1 to 3 bleach and water mixture, scrub it in, then keep it wet for about 20 minutes before rinsing it. You’ll need to let the shingles dry completely, which can take as long as two weeks depending on the weather and the humidity level.

Using a power washer for cleaning is not a good idea, especially if the shingles aren’t new. Weathering softens the wood, and you can actually damage them with a power washer. It’s harder to get them to dry if water has been forced underneath them.

Recondition the wood of older shingles with a stiff scrub brush, using it with the grain. Work the brush underneath the overlapping edges of each row. This will remove old, weathered wood fibers. Brush off any dust with a wide paintbrush.

Do I Need to Prime the Shingles First?

You certainly do need a primer for both types of shingles. For asphalt shingles, use a primer that’s made to work with the elastomeric paint. For wooden shingles, you’ll want a primer containing a stain blocker. Make sure you get the edges of the overlapping wooden shingles.

What Type of Paint Do You Use for Roof Shingles?

For asphalt shingles, elastomeric paint is best. This paint will adjust best to the expansion and contraction of the shingles caused by the sun and temperature changes. For wooden shingles, acrylic exterior paint is best.

How Long Will the Paint Last?

Paint usually lasts around seven to ten years for both asphalt and wooden shingles. Regular inspections should be done of both, touching up any paint that has been chipped off by tree debris or hail. Your local weather conditions may dictate repainting sooner or later.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint Roof Shingles?

If you’re doing the job yourself, you can expect to pay at least $500 for paint, primer and supplies. For a roof consisting of 20 squares, the cost would be around $1,000. Of course, hiring a professional will cost more, but it will still be much less than new shingles. A professional job will cost between $2,500 and $4,500.


Painting roof is not commonly done, not even with wooden shingles, which are usually stained. However, it’s something to consider if you have a dark roof and want to save on utility bills or just want some extra protection for your roof.

Talk to some painters in your area about the feasibility and costs, and don’t forget to ask your homeowner’s insurance company if they will even approve of it. You may have an eye-opening new roof that is sure to draw some attention.