Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

How To Paint Rusty Metal Roof? [Step By Step]

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Metal roofs unfortunately are prone to rusting because they are constantly exposed to bad weather and the outside elements like water, dirt, and twigs. This can leave your metal roof looking old and withered when it was once a lovely roof. The good news is that you can restore the fresh look by painting the rusty metal roof which is a lot cheaper than replacing in entirely. This will not only make it look better but help to protect it from further rusting and damage.

It doesnt have to be complicated to paint a rusty metal roof, you can get a lot of benefits from doing it and all it takes is a bit of effort.

You can bring your rusty metal roof back to life with a bit of effort, and some high-quality products. Lets go through everything you need to do to paint your roof and get it back to its original state.

How To Paint A Rust Metal Roof?

How To Paint A Rust Metal Roof

Things you will need:

You should always be safe when working on your roof, use a ladder that is stable to prevent injuries and never work in dangerous weather or on your own unless you are confident and trained. If you can get someone to assist you whilst you are on the ladders then that will be a lot safer.

Repairing the damage:

Step 1- Getting Rid Of The Rust On Your Roof

Before you start painting or priming you need to get rid of as much rust as you can. This will take quite a bit of effort, but it is essential if you want the rust to go away for good.

Use your dry scrub brush to remove the flakes of rust from your roof. Dont worry if you cant get them all, just the largest bits will do for now. Rust is weak so it shouldnt require too much force to get it off this way. Also focus on the staining that the rust leaves behind, you want to scrub away at this too.

Next you want to mix your Trisodium Phosphate with some water, it comes in powder form so use the ratio 1 Cup Trisodium Phosphate 1 Gallon of water.Once it has been mixed pop it into your spray bottle and apply it to the rusty areas. Leave it for 15-20 minutes to allow it to really penetrate the rust and start working! Take your brush once again and scrub as much of the rust off as you can.

Step 2- Removing The Old Coating

Your roof will have some coating on it to prevent erosion which you will need to remove in order for your primer and paint to stick. White vinegar is a great way to remove it and it is cheap to purchase too.

Pour some of your white vinegar onto a rag and wipe the roof with it. You dont need to apply much pressure, just make sure that you have covered everywhere with it.

Priming and painting:

Step 3- Applying The Primer

Now comes the exciting bit of applying your first product to make your roof look gorgeous! The vinegar will vanish pretty quickly so you should wait around 20 minutes before applying your primer.

There are 2 ways of applying the primer and you can pick which is the best way for you, using a roller or a paint sprayer. You can also use a paintbrush if you wish but this will take a lot more time and may leave some unwanted texture. Whichever way you decide to apply your primer, ensure that everywhere is covered completely, do not miss any areas!

There is a long waiting time for the primer to cure and dry completely. You need to give it around 24-48 hours before painting, but always check on the back of your product to see what they recommend. It is important to allow it to sit and dry thoroughly so you have a longer lasting paint job.

Optional- You can apply a second layer of primer to help your roof last longer, making sure that you dont have to do another paint job any time in the near future. If you decide to do this, follow the steps again and allow it to dry completely once more.

Step 4- Painting

Time to start painting your roof! Apply the paint the same way that you applied the primer, you can pick which method you would prefer to do. You can apply it any way that you like, just check to make sure you have painted evenly across the entire roof.

You may not need to apply a second coat of paint once your first is dried completely. This is up to you; you should examine the look of your roof and if you think some areas are looking a little bit thin or patchy then it would be best to go in again with a second coat of paint.

Top tip– Check the weather before you begin painting, if it is rainy or strong winds are expected then you might want to wait until another day else your hard work will be ruined by the weather.

You roof should now look fantastic and maybe even better then when it was first installed! The paint job should last a long time if you have followed all of the steps above.

Tin Roof Facts: Although metal roofing is prone to rust when it is exposed to the elements, it can be more cost-effective. They are known to last around 50 years or even more if it is looked after well!

Metal roofs are easier to fix than other materials. You can make them look brand new in just a few simple steps and you never have to replace it!

Tin roofs are extremely durable and can handle strong winds, and heavy rain. Other materials can crack in them circumstances whereas a tin roof will not.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ’s)

Is Painting Over Rust Bad?

Rust is very weak, so any paint you put over the top will also be weak leading the paint job to be destroyed. You should never paint directly over rust because the rust may continue to spread and weaken your metal roof. This can have lasting damage and ruin your roof permanently. Painting over rust is bad and can cause a lot of damage, before you start painting you need to fix any damages on your roof and prepare the surface properly.

What Happens If You Paint Over Rust?

Rust can cause a lot of damage to your roof and other metal items or surfaces. If you paint over rust without following the proper method and taking the time to prepare the surface before hand then you are going to damage your roof even more.

Rust eats away at metal and it needs to be eliminated completely before painting. If you paint over rust then you are allowing the rust to spread even more causing more damage to your roof. The finish of the paint job will be very poor too as rust is very weak and can peel away, meaning that any paint over the top will peel away easily too causing a lot more chips and cracks in your finished painting work. To get the best results from your painting, you need to follow the method stated above.

Can You Paint Directly Over Rusted Metal?

When you notice rust on your metal roof, your first thought is to paint it to cover it up. Unfortunately, it isnt as simple as painting directly over rusted metal, you cant just put a layer of paint over the rust and expect that to fix the issue, you need to do a few steps before you actually paint.

The extra steps are worth it, and will give you a much nicer, and more efficient finished look and will stop the rust in its tracks to prevent further damage and stop it coming back in the future.

You can not paint directly over rusted metal as this will not fix the problem, and your finish will look poor, with a lot of texture showing through and rust most likely to appear again in a couple of days. It is better to tackle the rust once and for all to get rid of the problem so more damage isnt done.

How Long Does It Take To Paint A Rusty Metal Roof?

How long it will take you to paint a rust metal roof will vary depending on how much rust there is on your roof, how much you have prepared your surface, and how you decide to finish off the project. The preparation roughly takes around 25 minutes, ensuring that your surface is clean and that the rust has gone as much as it can. The primer doesnt take too long to apply, but you have got to wait around 24 hours for it to dry before you can paint on it, and in some cases 48 hours. You can check the back of your product for specific drying times.

The actual painting process can take as little as 20 minutes, but this depends on how many layers you need on your roof. You have to allow the paint to dry completely before you apply any extra layers which can add on another 24hours.

Overall, it does take a few days for you to paint a rusty metal roof when considering the drying times for each product. The result that you are left will be a gorgeous metal roof that might look even better than when it was first installed so it is worth doing.

Related:How To Paint Ombre Walls?

Will Rust Come Back After Painting?

Unless you get rid of all of the rust and identify the reason that you got it in the first place, rust is likely to come back after painting. There are many ways in which you can prevent the rust from coming back which you will need to incorporate into your painting process. Using a primer that is at least 80% Zinc can be great at preventing rust. When painting, use a specialized metal roof paint which you may have to top up every couple of years to make sure the rust isnt coming back.

You need to make sure that the roof is prepped properly before painting and ensure that it is clean. Following the method stated above will give you the best chance of getting rid of the rust entirely.


Your roof is a big part of your property, and can have a huge impact on the overall look of it. Painting your rusty metal roof can make you feel like you are living in a brand new property and can add value if you decide to sell. It is not just about the attraction of the roof, but also how healthy the metal is. Painting your roof can add years onto its life and help to protect it from the elements.

It can seem like a long and difficult process of painting your rust metal roof, but after a bit of hard work you will notice your gorgeous roof being brought back to life, it can even transform the look of your entire property, so it is definitely worth the effort!

Painting your rusty metal roof doesnt have to be a difficult process, or an expensive one either! You can do it by yourself with just a few products and you will get your perfect roof back in no time!

Remember to follow the method, taking extra care when prepping and priming your roof to really get rid of your rust problem. Good luck!

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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