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There are many things we have to do as homeowners that probably never occurred to us before we stepped onto that property ladder, and painting our roofs is quite possibly one of those things. Of course, the short answer to the question posed by our title is; yes, you do need to paint your roof. But, before you go grabbing a paint brush or calling a roofer, let’s dive a little deeper into the topic, so you can understand the whys and whens.
The simple answer is protection. Painting your roof adds a layer of protection between your roofing materials and the elements, and that extra layer of protection can be surprisingly effective.
Even with tiled roofs, there is a thin membrane on each tile that wears down over time under the constant barrage of wind and rain that it faces.
Once that membrane is gone, the underlying stone is subjected to those elements, and then begins to break down and crumble. Rain and wind erode mountains, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that they can do the same thing to your roof tiles!
Of course, paint only protects your roof for a while before it too is worn away, but the good news there is that you can repaint your roof, and for a lot cheaper than you can re-tile it. There are other benefits to painting a roof, however, so let’s take a look at those next.
Slowing down the degradation of your roof at the hands of the weather is a great reason to paint your roof, and probably the biggest reason, but it’s not the only reason. Here are some more.
Increase the Efficiency of Your Home
Painting your roof can noticeably increase the efficiency of your home when it comes to temperature—either keeping the heat in or keeping it out. Your roof is generally the main point of temperature differential in your home, where the warm, moist air inside the building meets the roof, which is cooled by the outside air. Reducing this differential not only helps keep the temperature inside your home manageable without relying as much on heating and air conditioning, it also reduces things like condensation and the potential follow-on effects of that condensation, like damp and mould.
Prevents Micro Leaks
Obviously, you can’t plug a serious leak with a coat of paint, water is a persistent substance, and it doesn’t always do what you think it should. If you have tiny gaps in your roof tiles—either through poor installation or wear and tear over the years, water can seep in through capillary action. You’re not going to see dripping and puddles from this kind of water ingress, but any water getting into the property adds to the moisture content of the air.
Painting your roof will help to seal up any tiny points of weakness like that, making it much harder for water to find a way into your property.
Improves the Roof Aesthetically
Giving something a “lick of paint” isn’t a euphemism for making things look nicer without good reason. Painting your roof will give it a fresh, cleaner look that will make it look more aesthetically pleasing, and who doesn’t want an aesthetically pleasing roof?
A paint job may be aesthetically pleasing, but it doesn’t need to be the same aesthetically pleasing look you had before. If the look of your home is getting a little stale, you can give it a new lease of life with a fresh coat of paint, and in the case of your roof, it can often look like an entirely new roof just by giving it a different colour.
Increases the Lifespan of the Roof
We’ve touched on this already, but coating your roof in an additional layer of protection will help that roof stay healthy for longer. Granted, it’s not going to do anything in the face of a tree falling through it, but in terms of the average wear and tear that a roof is subjected to at the hands of Mother Nature, a coat of paint can be very effective.
The interval between roof paintings will vary depending on a few factors, but the main two are the climate your roof resides in, and the quality of paint which you use to paint your roof with.
A roof that is in a climate with a lot of wind and rain and gets painted with an inferior roof paint will need repainting much more frequently than a roof in a calmer climate that was painted with quality paint.
As a general rule, you will want to get your roof repainted every 10-15 years. This assumes an average level of wear and tear due to the weather, as well as a quality roof paint. If you live in a region with rather more energetic weather, or you decide to use paint that’s a little more, shall we say, cost-effective, then you should reduce that interval accordingly.
It’s important to note that this interval is just a rough guide, not something that should be treated as gospel. It is good practice to get into the habit of occasionally inspecting your roof visually. We’re not talking about climbing up there, of course, but walking around your home and seeing what you can see should suffice.
If there are obvious signs of wear and fading from the ground, your roof probably needs repainting, regardless of how long it was since the last paint job.
Again, mileage may vary depending on the paint and the conditions, but as a rough guide, you should be leaving your roof paint for at least 2 hours before giving it another coat. If the last coat put down does not feel dry and solid, it will need longer.
Painting a roof can be tricky when it comes to timing, because both weather that is too cold and weather that is too hot can negatively affect the paint. For this reason, it is best to paint your roof either in spring or autumn, as that should be the middle ground between the cold of winter and the heat of summer. If you’ve lived in an area for a long time and know the typical climate throughout the year, put that knowledge to good use and pick a time of year that has a nice, moderate temperature.
An even trickier aspect is that of rain. Ideally your roof paint would not encounter any rain until it has had a chance to properly dry. For people in some parts of the world where rain is a little less frequent, this shouldn’t be a problem, but for others, you may have to wait for a promising looking few days to get your roof painting done.
There is no law to stop you painting your roof yourself (at least, not in most regions of the world), but this is a situation where what you can do and what you should do may be different. If you are not comfortable with heights, ladders, or just don’t know much about the safety precautions for this kind of thing, you should certainly seek a professional to carry the task out for you.
Heading up onto your roof without knowing what you are doing can not only result in serious—even fatal—injury, it can also result in substantial property damage.
Painting your roof can extend the life of it, help keep small leaks at bay, improve the efficiency of your home, and, of course, give your home a fresh new look. Or just clean up the old one. It is certainly worth doing if you are looking to take care of your property in the long term, since a regular roof painting could well add years to the life of your roof, giving you more time between more serious roof maintenance, such as re-tiling.
Given the dangerous nature of working on a roof, combined with the surprisingly fragile nature of a typical residential roof, it is highly recommended to get a professional to take care of the work for you in most cases.
You should look to get your roof repainted every 10-15 years, though it is advisable to occasionally check for visible signs of wear that might indicate your roof would benefit from a repaint sooner rather than later.
It’s also worth remembering that roof paint is not a magic fix. If there is something serious wrong with your roof—such as water getting into the building in enough volume to drip—paint almost certainly won’t be enough to fix it. But for maintenance, tiny leaks, and aesthetic reasons, painting is a highly recommended way to keep your roof in great shape.