Should You Repaint or Replace Your Metal Roof?

Replacing your metal roof entirely can be a significant investment. In some cases, you may just need a repaint to make your roof look brand new. Read on to find out which option is best for your situation.

Metal roofs are known to be highly durable, with some lasting over sixty years. Still, in some cases, depending on the region you live and the age of your roof, you may be in the process of deciding whether to repaint or even replace your roof.

Before you decide, it’s important to examine your unique situation and understand all the ins and outs of repainting vs. replacement. Choosing the right option will ensure you get your money’s worth and get the most out of your metal roof.

Sheffield Metals is a metal roofing industry leader with more than two decades working in the distribution of metal sheets and coils. We’ve seen both repaints and complete metal roof replacements all over the country spanning a variety of different scenarios. Our goal is to provide great products for our customers while also educating the industry on all the characteristics of metal roofing.

In this article, we’ll look at repainting vs. replacing your metal roof, including:

  • Steps for how to determine whether to repaint or replace your metal roof
  • Factors to look at when choosing repainting vs. replacement
  • Costs related to repainting vs. replacement
  • Frequently asked questions

1.      Analyze the Condition of Your Roof

You’ll want to examine the overall condition of your roof. Although you may not be able to get on your roof and see everything up close, you should still be able to observe its appearance from a distance.  Is its color fading? Is there visible rust? Is it leaking? Take note of any discrepancies you see. 

2.      Understand Your Needs

Next, consider what your end goal is. Are you looking to restore your roof’s appearance to its original color? Are you looking for an overhaul to extend its longevity for as long as possible? Is your metal roof near the end of its service life, or do you simply want a change? Understanding your unique situation and what you want will help inform your decision.

3.      Find a Reliable, Professional, Commercial Contractor

Two roofers equipped with safety harnesses working on installing a new metal roof on a large building.

Repainting and replacing a metal roof is very different from painting the exterior of your home. Working with architectural metal requires precision and experience to ensure the job is done right. Find a professional commercial contractor to help you narrow your options and complete the job reliably.

Factors to Consider for Repainting vs. Replacing Your Metal Roof

It can be challenging trying to figure out what the best option is for your metal roof, especially when deciding between repainting and replacement. You want to get the most out of your metal roof but also want to find a cost-effective option, one that will hopefully give you the best outcome at the right price.

It’s important to look at a variety of factors that will all contribute to your decision, including:

  • The age of your roof
  • Warranties
  • The type of roof you have
  • Your geographic location
  • Inspection results
  • The overall appearance of your roof

Download the "7 Common Problems That Could Affect Your Metal Roof" infographic!

Determine the Age of Your Roof

One of the most important factors to look at when it comes to repainting vs. replacement is the age of your roof. Most metal roofs are built to last multiple decades. If your roof is nearing the end of its paint and substrate warranty and the metal itself is found to be in good condition after being inspected, it may make sense to have your roof repainted. This option will extend the aesthetics of your roof while not cutting into the lengths of your warranties.

If the actual metal on your roof looks to be at the end of its life cycle or you are experiencing issues with its watertight integrity, it may make more sense to use your funds for replacement costs.

If your metal roof is still relatively new, there are other factors you will want to consider. With a newer roof, the actual metal is probably in fine condition but it still should be inspected.

If you are just looking to change the color, you can, but more than likely it will void the paint warranty you received with the product. If the paint on a newer roof is failing, this will most likely be covered by your paint warranty and should be looked at before you do any repainting on your own. It is important to understand your warranties, which we will talk about next.

Get Clarification On Your Warranty

Understanding your warranty is integral to choosing whether to replace your metal roof. Typically, your original paint warranty will become void to any areas you have work done on your roof. A complete replacement will carry a new paint warranty for the new material when supplied by reputable companies.

Still, some coating manufacturers making high-end paint systems installed in the field will offer new warranties for repainting up to 15 years. By investing in a high-quality paint system, you’ll likely receive a new warranty that will protect your metal roof from weather factors and UV attack. Finalizing that warranty will help defend your roof from chalking and fading and keep it looking brand new for years.

Make note, however, that warranties are only offered on repaints when a professional painting company does the job. Contact your manufacturer to find out more about your roof’s warranty.

Consider the Type of Roof You Have

The type of roof you have will play a major role in the repainting vs. replacement decision-making process. Two common types of metal roofs are the exposed fastener system and the standing seam system, both very different in their construction and effectiveness:

  • Exposed fastener system: As its name implies, this type of roof uses exposed fasteners to attach metal panels to the substrate. It’s both wider and lighter than standing seam types and typically uses an SMP paint system.
  • Standing seam system: Hidden hardware attaches to the substrate with this type of metal roof, providing a smoother, more streamlined appearance. High-quality PVDF paint systems are often used with this type of roof.

When choosing between a repainting and replacement, you’ll want to look at the type of roof to inform you of its durability and longevity. Because of their construction, exposed fastener systems typically have shorter lifespans than standing seam systems.

If you’ve had your exposed fastener roof for some time and it’s beginning to show its age, you might want to consider replacing your metal roof and even upgrading to a standing seam.

On the other hand, if you already have a standing seam system, you may just want to add a new coating to restore its service life.

Know Your Geographic Location

A coastal town with blue water in the forefront.

You should also look at the region and climate you’re located in when it comes to repainting vs. replacing your metal roof. Factors such as saltwater, coastline weathering, and intense sun exposure may all have an impact on your decision:

  • Saltwater elements: Those located near oceans will have to deal with saltwater corrosion, which can damage metal roofs.
  • Coastal installations: Hurricanes and tropical storms have a major impact on roofs. Depending on where you’re located and the severity of weather in that area, the lifespan of your roof could be greatly reduced.
  • Intense sun exposure: Regions with constant sun and hot temperatures, such as the American South, may experience increased chalking and fading on their roofs due to UV exposure.

Knowing how your region and weather affects your metal roof is important because it will let you know whether to repaint or invest in something that will hold up better in the future.

For instance, if you’re located in an area with exposure to tropical storms and saltwater, you may want to upgrade your roof to a standing seam if it isn’t already, and coat it with a PVDF paint system for the best possible durability and longevity.

For those located in areas where weather and UV exposure isn’t too much of an issue, then you may be able to invest in a recoating to keep your original roof and increase its longevity.

Look for Contaminants On Your Metal Roof

An aged, light blue metal roof showing signs of corrosion

Observe your roof as best and as safely as you can to determine the extent of damage and to identify any contaminants. You should be looking for signs of rust and discoloring, fading colors, and any abnormalities in the appearance. Again, if your roof is at the end of its lifespan and is showing extreme signs of wear and tear, a replacement may be the best solution.

Still, even roofs with noticeable signs of corrosion could be helped with surface treatment and a recoating. Professional roofing contractors may be able to use power tools to repair those affected sections and reapply a high-quality coating to restore your metal roof to a new appearance.

Remember, however, that those discrepancies in your roof must be dealt with before repainting. Simply covering up rust will harm your metal roof in the long run. Taking care of corrosion will ensure a smooth, even coating that lasts for years to come.

Get an Inspection of Your Metal Roof

Choosing between repainting and replacing your metal roof can be challenging. There are a variety of factors in play and likely a significant investment on the line as well. To aid your decision, consider getting a professional roof inspection to examine the state of your roof. Most times, it will be very difficult to observe your roof and will require the proper safety precautions such as harnesses and lifts.

A roofing professional can get on your roof and observe any damage up close. They will also be able to walk you through the various options you have at your disposal and provide you with the correct information to make an educated decision.

Even if you’re leaning towards one side of the fence, it can still be valuable to gain the insights of a roofing professional, as they may be able to highlight an option you may not have thought of. They’ll also be able to work with you on warranty details and specific costs, which can be elusive for those not familiar with the industry.

Costs of Repainting vs. Replacing Your Metal Roof

The average price of a professional metal roof repainting ranges between $4 and $8 per square foot.  This includes all labor and access. The cost will differ based on how difficult accessibility will be and the specific coating system you choose:

  • Accessibility: If you have a large roof with various steeps and slopes, it may be more challenging for your contractor to reach certain areas, requiring them to use lifts or other machines. That may affect the final price.
  • Coating system: High-quality PVDF paint systems, which are highly robust, will require a greater investment than SMP paint systems. You’ll have to weigh your desired longevity for your roof vs. the cost.

The cost of a complete metal roof replacement will vary widely. A replacement involves a comprehensive process including tearing off the old roof, completing a deck inspection, obtaining metal and rollforming, and executing a full installation. The type of roof and the paint system you choose will also dictate the price.

Download the Your Guide to Metal Roof Design e-book here!

Repainting vs Replacing Metal Roof FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions relating to repainting vs. replacing a metal roof.

Can a Metal Roof Repainting Extend its Service Life?

If done correctly, a metal roof renewal can extend a roof’s lifespan by ten or even twenty years. The key is to find a professional contractor who knows what they’re doing when it comes to metal roofs. A qualified, reliable contractor will execute technical surface preparation such as pressure washing to remove dirt and blasting to remove rust.

You can further improve your roof’s service life by opting for a PVDF paint system, which will protect the substrate from corrosion and weather elements like wind and UV exposure.

When Should You Replace a Metal Roof?

It’s a good idea to replace your metal roof if it’s reached the end of its service life. In these cases, the roof has typically seen quite a bit of weathering and may be showing signs of corrosion. Likewise, the warranty on your roof may be ending soon as well, so it makes sense to replace your metal roof as it nears the end of that period.

What Do New Metal Roofs Need for a Color Change?

It’s common for homeowners to decide they want to change the color of their roof. This could be because of a new addition they put on their home, a change in the neighborhood, or simply because they decide they want to shift away from the current color they already have. Even if your roof is only a few years old, it’s still possible to make a color change.

In fact, because newer roofs haven’t seen much weathering or aging, the usual processes such as pressure washing and rust removal may not be needed.

However, fresh factory coatings will have a lot of friction resistance that repels water. For the new coating to adhere, your contractor will likely need to add a primer and conduct other surface preparations such as sanding or aggregate blasting. This is known as creating a surface profile or a “bite.” This preparation will ensure your new coating system is applied correctly.

Final Thoughts on Repainting vs. Replacing Your Metal Roof

Before you decide on whether to repaint or replace your metal roof, take time to look at all the considerations and variables involved, such as the age of your roof, the current warranty it is paired with, the type of roof, the region you live in, and the overall condition of your metal roof.

Knowing this information will help you make an informed decision you can be confident in. And it’s always helpful to reach out to a trusted professional for an opinion, as they can help guide you through the various options you can choose from.

At Sheffield Metals, we’re happy to provide you with the products and the information you need to make your metal roof last long into the future. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Contact us today!

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