Is Painting a Rusted Metal Roof a Good Idea? (DIY Guide Included)

You can absolutely paint a rusted metal roof with a little paint and a trusty paintbrush. Painting that tired, rusted roof not only boosts your home’s curb appeal but also saves you from future repair headaches. But depending on the amount of rust on the roof, you may change your mind.

You’ll need to show that rust who’s boss first, but think of it as a labor of love removing all the rust that is currently on the roof. Just be savvy about it—ensure you’re not just glossing over bigger issues and clean the painting surface sufficiently.

Most metal roofs, though beautiful and durable, can rust over time, affecting their appearance and the overall appearance of your home. And the best way to avoid painting the roof is to prevent the need for it in the first place.

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If your home has metal roofing that is not painted initially it maybe coated with a protective coating. Re-apply a protective coating every few years can help to hold back the rust on the roof.

When the protective layer wears off, the metal is exposed, leading to rust formation. Repainting can help, but proper preparation is key.

Once Rusting Has Started it Will Likely Spread

Sheet metal roofs are durable and long-lasting, with some lasting over 50 years. However, rust can be a concern and requires immediate action to prevent further damage. Once you see spots of rust forming it’s best to take action right away. Rust will spread and be more and more difficult to remove from the surface. Over time the rust will cause the metal to leak and replacement would then be necessary.

Corrugated and Standing Seam Metal Roofing

There are two main types of sheet metal roofs: corrugated and standing seam. Corrugated roofs have a wavy design and are common in homes, while standing seams are connected pieces used in commercial settings in most cases. Corrugated roofs are cheaper but need more maintenance, while standing seams are pricier but easier to maintain and they look at bit better due to no exposed fasteners.

Simply Painting a Rusted Metal Roof Is Not The Answer

When painting a rusted metal roof, proper cleaning and rust removal are crucial for a successful paint job. Here are some steps to take when painting a metal roof:

Step 1. Cleaning the Roof: Cleaning a metal roof before painting is crucial. Use a pressure washer to remove dirt and debris, ensuring a clean surface. Try to remove all the dirt, dust, and debris that has collected on the roofing panels.

Step 2. Removing the Loose Rust from the Roof with a Wire Brush: When prepping the roof for painting it’s best to get it in the best shape possible. Getting the metal back down to where the oxidization hasn’t started is best but it’s not always an option.

If the rust is widespread already on your roof you want to consider new roof panels or build up your muscles using a wire brush to take off as much of the rust as you can.. Here is one option for a wire brush which can make the process easier pictured below:

Thunder Group Heavy Duty Wire Brush with Scraper and Long Wood Handle, 27-Inch

The Thunder Group Heavy Duty Wire Brush with Scraper and Long Wood Handle, 27-Inch is a top-quality tool that is perfect for heavy-duty cleaning tasks in commercial kitchens or bakeries. Made by Thunder Group, a trusted brand in the industry, this wire brush scraper is designed to tackle major cleaning projects with ease.

Step 3. Once The Surface Rust is Removed The Prep is Done, Almost: Now that you have the roof cleaned and rust removed, it’s a good idea to give it another spray clean to remove any of the rust dust that may be present which can cause the primer not to stick.

There are several different types of sealants that are on the market today and choosing can mean the difference between priming the metal surface or not. For most cases, if you plan on using paint for the roof then you’ll want to use a good primer first. Here is one primer that is available on Amazon:

Ames Super Primer – 1 Gallon Multi-Surface Acrylic Primer

The AMES Super Primer is a versatile multi-surface acrylic primer sealer that proves to be a valuable addition to any coating project. This powerful membrane-forming primer not only strengthens the surface it is applied to but also enhances the longevity of the coating.

Of course, if you’re using a sealant such as elastomeric coating you likely won’t need a primer at all. In fact, many homeowners will use elastomeric coating with roof present on their roofs, which may not be such a good idea. Check with the paint or sealant you plan on using for your rusted metal roof to determine if any additional items are needed. Some paints may also need several coats when used whereas sealants may not.

So What Happens if you Just Paint Over The Rusty Metal Roof?

Painting a rusted metal roof may seem like a quick and cheap fix, but it can lead to issues. Directly painting over rust can trap moisture, causing corrosion and potential leaks. Different paints offer varying degrees of rust prevention. Consider options like zinc oxide to prevent rust or copper sulfate to remove existing rust.

Painting Rusted Galvanized Metal Roofing

Most metal roofing today is painted, but some are still galvanized with a protective zinc layer to prevent rust. The shiny appearance of galvanized roofs is unique and may not be replicated by metal roof paints. Painting a galvanized roof is possible, but it may alter its original metallic look. Consider painting a small area that is basically unseen to determine if it’s something you would like.

Paint for Galvanized Metal Roof

If you want to keep the appearance of your galvanized steel roof but still want to protect it from rusting there are options which can help. One popular type of paint or sealant option is to use a roof coating that many mobile home owners use. It’s referred to as ‘kool seal’ but it is in fact, just the brand that is often used. This type of roof coating can work on most metal surfaces including corrugated metal roofs. Here is one option for Kool Seal roof coating:

GARDNER-GIBSON 6245-GA Series 4.75GAL Roof Coating

The GARDNER-GIBSON 6245-GA Series 4.75GAL Roof Coating is a high-quality product designed to protect and enhance roof surfaces. With its reflective silver finish, this roof coating helps lower the temperature of the roof surface, ultimately reducing energy costs.

The Cost of Painting a Rusty Metal Roof

One of the biggest challenges of painting metal roof surfaces is ensuring that the coat of paint adheres properly. And that means removing as much of the rust as possible which can vary greatly depending on the size of the roof itself and the area that is already rusted Which can be a lot of work if there is lots of rust present.

As a do it yourself project, labor may not be taken into account as you are planning on completing the project yourself but if you choose to get a contractor to handle the roof service for you this can be a huge factor in pricing especially if you need the entire roof cleaned, rust removed, and sealed.

The other expenses will depend on the type of protective coating you have and any additional components that may be needed. You’ll also need to consider tools such as a paint sprayer, cost of paint, and dry cloths and such to protect other areas of your home from the paint job.

Get a Quote and Make a Budget

Take a look at your roof and determine just how much work will be needed and the materials needed to paint the roof. Then compare that to a new roof installation or roof repair from a professional to paint the roof. Get a free quote from local roofing contractors for your project and compare them to determine which is your best option. Get started by calling 844-943-2373

Rick Anderson

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