Can Wood Shingles Be Painted?

Wood shingles can help to protect your home from damage from outside elements and wildlife. However, they can begin to look worn and faded as the years go by. This is why most homeowners choose to place a layer of protection on top of the shingles. But what kind of protection or materials can you use? Can you paint your wood shingles? We've looked into this for you and will answer these questions. 

Painting wood shingles is an option if you are looking to provide an extra layer of protection against harmful UV rays and outdoor elements such as ice, snow, and acidic rain.

As with any home improvement project of this scale, effective planning is essential. Not only can it help you to determine how long the project will take, but knowing what type of materials you'll need will help to ensure that your project is successful. Continue reading to learn more about painting wood shingles.

Close up looking down of New Cedar Shingle roof,gutters ,eaves and paned windows on a new home, Can Wood Shingles Be Painted?

Can Wood Shingles Be Painted?

Newly painted Wood Shingle Cedar Roof Architecture

Wood shingles are one of the most popular single choices for home roofs. With proper application, they can be long-lasting and help your roof to remain insect-free and weather-resistant. However, special preparation is necessary as wood shingles tend to absorb paint much faster than other surfaces. That being stated, your shingles must be first be primed before applying any paint.

You'll also need to ensure that you use a paint that's designed for exterior surfaces, as it will come with the bonding agents needed to withstand harsh outdoor elements--particularly if you live in especially cold or hot regions. Even the highest quality paint will quickly peel off the wood shingles without the right base.

Also, before painting your wood shingles, you will need to replace any damaged or missing shingles, as well as clean them thoroughly to remove any mildew, mold, or dirt from their surface. Here is a quick overview of the steps and materials needed to paint your wood shingles.

Steps For Painting Wood Shingles


  • Acrylic exterior paint
  • Ladder
  • Paint sprayer
  • Orbital sander (or sanding block)
  • Acrylic latex wood primer
  • Synthetic fiber paintbrushes
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Dropcloths
  • Pressure washer

1. Prep the shingles

Take a canvas drop cloth and place it over any outside shrubbery, lawn furniture, or other landscaping so that it doesn't get wet. Remove any shutters on the home and be sure to place drops cloths over any doors and windows to protect them from paint spills in sprays.

You can use painter's tape to attach the tarps to the windows. Next, position your ladder and make sure that it has easy access around the perimeter of the home.

See these drop cloths on Amazon.

2. Sand the shingles

Use your orbital sander to sand off any wood pieces protruding from the shingles. Start at the back of the house. Also, be sure to remove any large pieces of debris, any large branches, or other items that may have blown onto the shingles.

When going over to shingles with your sander, pay special attention to any irregularities or areas where there may be damaged shingles. These will need to be repaired or replaced before the paint job.

See this orbital sander on Amazon. 

Quick tip:

It's always best to start at the back of the house if you make any mistakes. This way they won't be visible from the street, thus negatively affecting the curb appeal of your home.

3. Clean the shingles

Prepare your cleaning commercial solution and pour it into the reservoir of your pressure washer. It's best to do a quick spot test to make sure that the pressure washer is placed on a setting low enough so that it does not damage the shingles.

Start at the bottom of the shingles and work your way up using a horizontal sweeping motion to remove any debris and stains from the shingles. Go back over the shingles with water only to remove any remaining cleaning solution. Allow the shingles to dry completely for 1 to 2 days.

4. Prime the shingles

Once the shingles have dried, use a scrub brush to remove any remaining dirt or debris. Next, apply an acrylic-latex stain blocker to the shingles using a 4- or 6-inch paintbrush. Be sure to coat the shingles evenly and apply the primer using vertical strokes.

You can also use a paint sprayer to apply the primer to the shingles. If you do this, be sure to use side sweeping motions so that you have full coverage of the shingles. Buy an additional coat for added protection. Give the primer a couple of hours to dry.

5. Paint the shingles

Once your last coat of primer has dried, prepare your paint in your paint tray or sprayer. If you are using a sprayer, make sure to thoroughly cover all of the shingles, especially between the seams.

If you are painting by hand, make sure to thoroughly clean your paintbrushes or use a new brush for the paint application. Apply two coats of acrylic paint to the shingles and allow the first coat to dry for 2 hours before applying an additional coat.

See this paint sprayer on Amazon. 

Quick tip:

If you are looking for a quick way to clean your wood shingles, here is a great solution that you can use with just a few ingredients.

Combine 2 cups of bleach with a gallon of water and add a tablespoon of regular dish soap. You can use a scrubber brush with a wand attachment to apply the solution to your shingles. If you don't have one or prefer to do a quick cleaning job, you can use a pressure washer. This solution is especially helpful if you have mildew or mold on your shingles. 

Can You Paint Over Stained Cedar Shingles?

Yes, you can paint over stained cedar shingles. Proper preparation must be done before the painting, however. For example, if the shingles haven't been sealed with varnish or any type of high-gloss lacquer, they can simply be cleaned and painted.

But if they are covered with a lacquer or varnish, they will need to be sanded before a coat of paint can be applied, or the paint will just sit on top of the lacquer and it won't be absorbed in the wood--resulting in wasted time and materials.

What Is The Best Paint For Cedar Shingles?

Acrylic-latex paint designed for exterior surfaces is the most dependable type of paint to use on your cedar shingles. This type of paint is the most sustainable for shingles and can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years before requiring a new coat. However, before applying the paint, you must apply a quality latex primer with stain blockers to ensure that the paint adheres well to the wood.

Is It Better To Stain Or Paint Cedar Shingles?

The biggest difference between staining cedar shingles and painting them is the way that the materials adhere to the wood. Wood stains have way less pigment than paint and are more translucent. Many homeowners choose stains over the paint because they prefer to allow the original color and grain of the wood to show through the stain.

Also, wood stain is actually soaked into the grain of the wood which means that it will typically last longer than paint. Stains are also effective at helping cedar shingles to repel snow, rain, and ice during the winter months.

Paint, on the other hand, is opaque and pigmented. It doesn't necessarily get absorbed into the shingles, more so it lays on top of the shingles forming a protective barrier. With paint, less of the wood's natural grain and texture will show through. The paint will typically be more challenging to remove than stain and will need to be removed completely if you're looking to stain the roof after applying a coat of paint.

When deciding whether to paint or stain your cedar shingles, the best thing to do is to consider the current condition of the shingles. Remember, a wood stain will last longer and give the shingles a more natural and traditional look. Paint can offer more protection overall against outside elements, though it will look worse once it starts to peel. This would occur faster than a wood stain.

How Do You Stain Wood Shingles?

The steps to stain your wood shingles are very similar to painting them. You'll first want to clean off the shingles using a pressure washer or water hose. The wood shingles will need a day or two to dry completely before applying the primer and paint.

Next, you'll want to sand the shingles if there are obtrusions on the shingles are if there is any varnish or lacquer which may affect the adherence of the stain. Then you simply need to apply the stain to the shingles using a paintbrush or paint sprayer.

Wrapping Things Up

Close up looking down of New Cedar Shingle roof,gutters ,eaves and paned windows on a new home, Can Wood Shingles Be Painted?

We hope that this post has provided you with the answers that you were looking for regarding painting (or staining) wood shingles. You can paint your home's wood shingles, but it's important to remember to properly prep them beforehand. This means cleaning them thoroughly and removing any mildew, dirt, and debris. It also means applying a quality primer so that the paint job will last for years to come.

Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other posts:

What Color Siding Goes With Weathered Wood Shingles?

How Long Does A Wood Roof Last?

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