Can You Paint Asphalt Shingles?

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

In the United States, asphalt shingles are among the most common roofing materials. This is likely due to the fact that they are easy to repair, involve simple installation and are very affordable.

They are most often seen in a charcoal gray, or even darker colors, and these shades will absorb heat. Your roof is in direct sunlight throughout the day; this combined with the dark color of the shingles, will significantly heat up your roof. This is especially true in summer months and can end up driving up your energy bills.

Because of this, along with a number of other reasons, you may desire to paint your asphalt shingles a lighter shade entirely.

So, the question becomes: “can you paint asphalt shingles?” The short answer is, yes, it is possible to paint asphalt shingles but to stay looking fresh, it may require that it be maintained periodically with a new coat.

Let’s dive into this question further and examine when it makes sense to paint asphalt shingles, how to do it, and any of the possible challenges that could arise.

Do You Need Exterior Home Paint or Stain Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Can You Paint Asphalt Shingles?

You can paint asphalt and most other types of shingles and there are a number of reasons why someone might want to. However, they will require an added level of preparation and some serious consideration to achieve the desired results.

The surface of shingles is very rough and they tend to expand and contract with temperature changes. This will lead to some difficulty during painting and it’s recommended that you apply several coats of paint.

The most effective way to paint your asphalt shingles is by using a paint sprayer. Additionally, choose your paint carefully, as the type you use is important. Oil-based or exterior latex paints will likely not be durable enough.

Instead, look into using an elastomeric paint. Elastomeric paint will last you the longest and it has the ability to stretch and move around but certain brands can contribute to moisture problems.

When Painting Asphalt Shingles Makes Sense

Using paint to improve the look of your roof, or any other part of your home, is a very practical option. If you’ve just moved into a home that has a roof with an undesirable color, you can paint it instead of wasting time and money to have it completely replaced.

Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors to fit your needs. If your roof is of a darker hue, instead of going through the hassle of replacing the shingles, you may want to paint them. Dark-colored roofs notoriously absorb a lot of heat and could possibly increase the temperatures inside the home.

The following are some of the benefits that are associated with electing to paint your asphalt roof:

  • Extends the lifespan of your roof. Arguably one of the main reasons that homeowners decide to paint their roof is to increase its lifespan. Specialized paints that work with particular shingles can help the surface to survive better in harsh conditions.
  • Provides a new look. Since your roof is constantly exposed to direct sunlight, the shingles can easily fade. Painting the roof gives it a fresh new look and can improve the overall appearance of your entire home.
  • More affordable than replacing the entire roof. If the main issue with your roof is its color or style, painting the shingles will cost you much less than replacing a perfectly good roof.
  • Improved energy efficiency. Certain colors and types of exterior paint can help to reflect heat away from your home instead of absorbing it and entering through your attic. In summer months, this could help dramatically lower your cooling costs.

How to Choose a Roof Color

If you’ve decided that painting your asphalt shingles is the way to freshen up your roof, you may be wondering how exactly to pick a color. While this mostly comes down to personal preference, choosing the right color can drastically influence your home’s appeal.

Because of this, you’ll want to choose your asphalt shingle color carefully and consider the following factors:

  • Your home’s resale value. If you will be looking to sell your home in the future, make sure that you choose a color that will appeal to potential buyers. You don’t want to choose a color that could deter someone from purchasing your home.
  • Your property’s size. This is an important factor to consider as some colors can actually make your home appear larger. For example, using lighter colors will greatly benefit a small home.
  • The surrounding houses. In general, you want your roof color to complement the other homes throughout your neighborhood. You don’t want it to stand out too much, be an eyesore, or possibly violate the rules established by your homeowner’s association. Always check with your HOA before making any changes to the exterior of your home.
  • The home’s other exterior features. When choosing the paint color for your asphalt shingles, you want to factor in all of the other exterior elements.

Examine the table below for some of the best roof colors based on the color of your home’s exterior. Pairing your home’s color with one of these recommended colors will help ensure that your roof complements your home.

House Exterior ColorBest Color for Roof Shingles
RedGreen, black, dark brown, gray
Light grayWhite, grey, green, black, blue,
Cream or beigeBlack, blue, brown, green, gray
BrownGreen, brown, gray, blue
WhiteNearly any color will work well with white. Including: gray, brown, black, white, blue, green
Log or weathered wood homesBrown, green, gray, black

The Right Color Can Enhance Energy Efficiency

If you do decide to paint your asphalt shingles, the color you choose doesn’t only come down to aesthetics. It can also contribute to your home’s energy efficiency. If you live in an area with especially warm temperatures, you know how beneficial light colors are at reflecting heat and staying cool. This same standard can be applied to your roof.

When properly maintained and kept clean, a white roof can reflect up to 80 percent of the sunlight that hits it. This, in turn, will keep your entire home cooler. Enhancing the reflectivity of your roof by merely 40 to 50 percent can lower your energy bills by approximately 20 percent. This impact is most often seen in single-story structures, whereas, multi-story buildings will experience it most in the upper floors.

On the other hand, if you live in a colder climate where heating your home is very important, it’s best to opt for a darker color. A dark colored roof will absorb the warmth of the sun in spring and fall, when it isn’t coated in snow.

Moisture Concerns

If you choose to paint your asphalt shingles, your biggest concern will be moisture. In order for moisture to evaporate and be released, the shingles need to breathe.

Make sure that the paint you choose is specifically designed for roofs and allows for any accumulated moisture to escape from the shingles. Choose an acrylic (water-based) paint and avoid waterproofing paint, which can trap moisture in the shingles.

Trapped moisture can cause severe damage to the shingles themselves and the wood sheathing underneath. If left unchecked, excess moisture can potentially lead to roof leaks.

Painted Shingles Necessitate Extra Maintenance

Asphalt shingles purchased as they come could potentially last you 20 years or more, require little maintenance, and will retain much of the same look when they were installed.

However, when it comes to painted shingles, they will start showing signs of wear much quickly and will most often require a fresh coat of paint after five to seven years.

Each time maintenance is required, the roof will need to be cleaned, repaired, primed, and then painted. Additionally, a painted roof will still be hit hard by rain, sunlight, wind, snow, and other weather conditions that will cause the exterior to fade much faster.

How to Paint Asphalt Shingles

For best results, paint your asphalt shingles using a spray paint machine. This piece of equipment is very efficient and will help you complete the project in two times the amount of time it would take you with a roller.

If you don’t own a paint sprayer, they can be rented easily at most home improvement centers. When it comes to roof spray painting, it is best to complete the work on a warm day. This will allow the paint to dry much faster and prevent it from spraying on undesirable areas of your property.

Make sure that you clean the roof before painting and replace any damaged shingles. Then, cover all roof fixtures with painters’ tape and use scraps of cardboard for the larger areas. Prime the roof before you begin and allow at least two days to dry before you begin painting with the paint sprayer. Then, apply two coats of paint, allowing ample drying time in between each.

Do You Need Exterior Home Paint or Stain Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Wrapping It Up

Paint is an affordable, easy, and flexible option to switch up the look of your asphalt shingle roof. Though, before you dive into the project, make sure that you are comfortable with the additional maintenance and possible moisture concerns. So long as you complete the job with care, you can give your home a fresh update at the fraction of the cost to install new shingles.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

More by Jessica Stone