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How to Paint a Roof

If you paint your house, you might also want to change the color of your roof. A change in color is also a great way to freshen up the look of a home. Of course, you could replace the roof if you want a different look, but a fresh coat of paint can often achieve the same aesthetic result as installing brand-new roofing.

That being said, a coat of paint will not fix cracks or damage, which will need to be taken care of ahead of time. After that, you can quickly get the job done with a paint sprayer, or you can spend some time doing things by hand. Either way, as you proceed, make sure to put safety above everything else, just like with any roofing project.

Inspecting and Cleaning

Before you can apply a new coat of paint to your roof, you need to make sure there is no damage. It is also important to thoroughly clean the roof so that the painting goes smoothly. Therefore, you will want to check for damage and replace any problem areas, then clean the roof and let it dry before doing anything else.

Check for Cracks or Damage

Checking the roof for cracks and damage is a basic step for any roofing project. Start by using a ladder to access the roof, then look for damage like shingles or tiles with cracks or those lifting from the roof. It helps if you have something to take notes with, such as an overview sketch of the roof.

Even though checking the roof is not a terribly risky task, it still requires caution. That is especially true of roofs with a high pitch, which is why you should use safety equipment to avoid falls. Another option is hiring a contractor to look for damage for you.

One other thing to keep in mind when looking for damage is to not cause any additional problems while you are on the roof. Clay and concrete roof tiles can crack if you step directly on them. Instead, step on the top ride or where they overlap.

Replace Damaged Areas

If you see any damage, you are going to need to replace it. The best practice is to start at the bottom of the roof, replacing any damaged shingles or tiles as you work your way to the peak. It is also a good idea to work on a sunny day and avoid getting on the roof if it recently rained to avoid slipping.

Also, be aware that asbestos shingles are carcinogenic, which means you will want to hire a professional to do the work if you have them. Though, even if you do not, you can always hire a licensed contractor to do repair work for you.

Clean Metal or Tile Roofs With a Power Washer

Metal and tile roofing can be cleaned relatively easily using a power washer with a 25° angle wand tip. It should also have a long hose that you can use comfortably while leaving the machine on the ground.

In the case of a power washer, you actually want to start at the top of the roof and work your way down, which will prevent tiles from lifting. If there is moss or lichen on the roof, keep the tip a foot or two away from the roof while spraying it off.

Use a Cleaning Solution for Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles can also have moss on them, but you can take care of it with a cleaning solution of one quart of bleach, a gallon of water, and 1/4 of a cup of heavy-duty cleaner. After mixing the solution, put it into a garden sprayer and spray it onto the shingles. Come back to rinse it off in fifteen minutes with a hose.

Let the Roof Dry

A dry roof is a safe roof. Additionally, moisture can get caught under the paint and cause mold to form, so give it some time to dry before working. On a sunny day, it might only take an hour, but it is a safe bet to give it an entire day otherwise. Some roofs dry faster than others, though, such as metal roofs.

Prepare Equipment and Paint

Purchasing the right equipment and paint can change the time needed to paint a roof from a week to a few days. It is also very important for safety. Therefore, you will want to make sure you buy the right type of paint, proper painting equipment that includes a sprayer, and safety equipment that will keep you secure during the project.

Water-Based Acrylic Paint

There is a lot of paint out there to choose from, but water-based acrylic paint provides the best coverage and protection. Luckily, you can find what you need at almost any paint supply or hardware store. The surface area of your roof will inform you of how much paint is needed.

Consider buying white paint if you want to reflect light and keep the home cooler. Additionally, do not use latex-based paint because it might allow moisture to get trapped below, which can lead to mold or rot.

Procure Painting Equipment

Airless paint sprayers make painting a roof much easier, allowing you to get the job done in a few days. It also helps ensure an even coat, so it is worth renting one. All you have to do is fill the tank with paint, then you can get to work. Just make sure the hose is long enough to work on top of the roof while the machine remains on the ground.

Of course, using brushes and rollers is also an option, but it will take far longer that way. You will need to spend around double the time, if not more, to paint the same area.

Set Up Safety Equipment

No matter how you decide to paint your roof, safety is important. That includes non-slip shoes and a harness. There are boots and shoes with non-slip soles, and buying a pair will make it possible to walk steadily on your roof. But if the pitch is steep, a harness is a must.

If you decide to use a hardness, install the bracket at the peak of the roof. Then, secure the harness around your shoulder and legs. After that, use a rope to connect the bracket and harness, which will prevent you from falling if something should happen. You should also keep the rope taut to avoid letting it touch the wet paint as you go.

Apply the Paint

With all of the prep work done, you can finally move on to painting the roof. That being said, you will still need to cover certain areas that you do not want to get paint on. Other than that, you will be applying primer, laying down multiple coats of paint, and properly painting all of the edges and tight areas.

Make sure to plan how you are going to do the painting. The best choice is to go from top to bottom. You will place the ladder in the middle of the roof along the bottom edge, then you will paint from top to bottom, standing on the ladder below to paint the final section. Then, you will move to the right and do the same thing again, essentially going from top to bottom and left to right.

Cover Certain Areas

Prior to painting, you should cover areas like vents and skylights or anything else you do not want to get paint on. An easy way to do this is by using plastic sheets and painter’s tape, which will help keep any paint from reaching the areas. Just make sure to avoid sticking the tape to any of the roofing materials since it might not stick.

Apply a Coat of Primer

Primer is essential if you want the best final result. Pour a water-based primer into the airless sprayer and spray an even, thin coat over all of the roofing material. After application, give it around two hours to dry, then you can move on to painting. By doing this, you will get better color, especially on shingles and tiles.

Paint the Roof In Strips

Painting is not much different from applying primer. All you have to do is fill the tank and spray an even coat on the roof. To achieve that, hold the nozzle a foot or two away from the roof and pull the trigger, moving it from the peak to an area three or four feet down before releasing.

You will paint in strips of three to four feet, working toward the opposite side of the roof as you do. As you go to the next strip, make sure to overlap the area you painted just enough to get even coverage.

After you have painted from one side of the roof to the other, return to the start and move down your roof, painting another strip of three to four inches this time. Repeat this until you finish the entire roof.

Do not try to use a sprayer when there is a lot of wind since it will blow away the paint. You might also want to consider having someone held with the hose as you go to make things easier.

Put Down a Second Coat

Leave the first coat of paint for a minimum of two hours, ensuring it is set and safe to walk on. Then, start applying another coat, working in the same manner you did with the first coat. You can even add a third coat after another two hours of dry time to achieve a more brilliant color.

Get the Edges and Tight Areas

The last step is finishing touches, which are usually needed at the edges or in tight areas that might be harder to get with a sprayer. That means using a brush or roller and applying several coats, allowing for the same amount of dry time between coats. The key is to make the color appear uniform.

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