A homeowner sitting on a ladder examines a can of reflective roof paint

Cooling a house is one of the most significant expenses the average homeowner faces each year. It can account for more than half of a home’s energy bill and about 12% of the United States’ total energy consumption.

Reflective roof paint can help homeowners save energy and money. It achieves this by reflecting sunlight and heat away from the building.

This functionality means you don’t have to use the air conditioner as much, leading to lower energy consumption and, in turn, lower electrical bills.

This article will explore the benefits of reflective roof paint, how much you can save, and its return on investment (ROI).

How Reflective Roof Paint Saves Energy

Reflective paint affects your home’s energy usage in two ways—by reducing the amount of heat that enters your home and the percentage that escapes.

This Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that reflective paint can reduce a home’s cooling costs by up to 10%, proving its benefits far surpass those of your average roof paint. This reduction can be as much as 35% in hot climates.

Reflective paint is made of tiny reflectors that redirect the sun’s rays and heat away from a building, decreasing the amount of heat absorbed by the roof, which reduces the heat transferred inside.

Reflective paint is the same paint used to mark roads. It is called Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO), and it is not your average paint. It is thicker, more durable, and is also resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling.

Reflective roof paint being applied to asphalt using a roller

How Much Money Can You Save With Reflective Roof Paint?

Reflective roof paint can save anywhere between 5–30% on cooling costs. Therefore, if you live in a climate where your cooling bill racks up $1,000 per year, you could save $50 and $300 anually using reflective roof paint.

However, the savings are more significant in hot climates. In Arizona, for example, homeowners could save up to $1,000 per year on their cooling costs.

This figure is because temperatures can reach 120°F (48.89°C) in the summer. Without reflective paint, the inside of a home can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65.56°C).

In some cases, homeowners can save as much as 50% on their cooling costs.

What Is the Return on Investment (ROI) for Reflective Roof Paint?

The time to recoup your ROI for reflective roof paint is about two years. This figure means you will break even on your investment in about 24 months. After that, you will start to see savings each year.

Therefore, spending $1,000 on reflective roof paint would save $100 per year after the two-year break-even point.

However, the payback period is shorter in hot climates because the savings are greater. For this reason, a $1,000 investment in reflective roof paint in Arizona would pay for itself in about 12 months.

You can never go wrong with a product that saves you money on your energy bill, and reflective roof paint is one of the best ones in the market.

Not only does it save you money, but it also helps reduce your carbon footprint. It is a win-win for the environment and your wallet!

How Do You Choose the Right Reflective Roof Paint

When choosing reflective roof paint, it is essential to find a product that has been tested and certified by The Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC). The CRRC is an independent, nonprofit organization that tests and rates roofing products.

Products meeting the CRRC’s seal of approval reflect more sunlight and heat than other alternatives. They also have a lower emissivity, which means they release less heat into the atmosphere.

However, the CRRC has two programs: the Energy Star Roof Products program and the Qualified Products List (QPL).

The Energy Star Roof Products program is for products that meet the energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On the other hand, the Qualified Products List is for products that have been independently tested and meet the performance requirements of the CRRC.

When choosing reflective roof paint, always look for the CRRC’s seal of approval to ensure that you’re getting a quality product that has been independently tested.

Types of Reflective Paint

There are two types of reflective paint—wet-applied and sheet-applied.

Wet-applied reflective paint is a liquid applied to the roof with a brush or roller. It dries quickly and forms a protective barrier that reflects the sun’s rays.

Sheet-applied reflective paint is a thin, metal sheet applied to the roof. It is usually made of aluminum or copper and serves the same purpose.

Both types of reflective coatings reduce the amount of heat transferred into a home. However, sheet-applied reflective paint is more expensive than its wet-applied counterpart.

When choosing an option, consider the cost and the type of paint. Wet-applied reflective paint is less expensive and easier to apply, but it may not be as effective as sheet-applied paint.

Reflective Paint Color

The color of reflective paint is also critical. You want a color that will reflect the most sunlight and heat. 

White is the best color for this purpose. However, it is also the most visible color on a roof.

If you’re worried about your home standing out too much, you can choose a light gray or beige. These colors are still reflective, but they are not as shouting as white.

Still, you want to choose a color that blends well with the exterior colors of your home. The last thing you want is to create a clashing contrast that can quickly turn your home’s exterior into an eyesore.

That’s why you can also choose gray or beige. These two colors go well with most home exteriors but do particularly well with brick and stone.

How To Apply Reflective Roof Paint

Applying roof paint is a simple process that most homeowners can do themselves. However, if you’re not comfortable climbing on a roof, you may want to hire a professional.

The first step is to clean the roof. This step is crucial because you want the paint to stick to the roofing material. You can use a pressure washer or a chemical cleaner to get the job done.

Once the roof is clean, you can start painting. Be sure to follow the instructions on the paint can. However, two coats of paint are usually needed—the first coat should be a primer, and the second coat should be the color you choose.

Once the paint is dry, you can seal it with a coat of roofing sealant to help protect the paint from the weather.

How Long Does Reflective Paint Last?

Reflective paint will eventually fade but should last 10 to 15 years. The color will also lose its reflectivity over time. However, by this point, it should have served its purpose.

To keep the paint looking its best, you should power wash it every two years. Power washing will remove any built-up dirt or grime, and it will also help avoid fading.

However, the longevity of your reflective paint will also be influenced by the roof’s exposure to the sun and other weather conditions. If you live in a hot, dry climate, the color will fade faster than in a colder, humid environment.

The quality of paint you buy also plays a role in its lifespan. Cheap paint tends to fade faster than more high-end options. However, quality paint that is not properly maintained will also fade.

Is Reflective Paint on Residential Roofs Effective?

Reflective paint on residential roofs can effectively reduce energy consumption and save money on your energy bill. The paint helps reflect the sun’s heat and radiation, which can otherwise cause your home to overheat.

Reflective paint also helps keep the roof cooler, which can prolong the life of the roofing material. Additionally, it can reduce the moisture that builds on the roof.

The CRRC has tested and certified several reflective roof paints. These paints are effective in reducing energy consumption. The CRRC also offers a consumer rating system to help you choose the right reflective roof paint.

Still, there are some factors you need to consider before deciding to paint your roof. The most crucial is the climate you live in. If you live in hot, sunny weather, the paint will be more effective than in a colder climate.

The type of roofing material you have also plays a role in the effectiveness of the paint. For example, asphalt shingles are suitable for reflective paint, while metal roofs are not.

Is Reflective Paint Waterproof?

Reflective paint is not waterproof. So if you live in a climate with a lot of rainfall, you’ll need to take precautions to prevent damage to the paint.

One way to protect the paint is to seal it with a coat of roofing sealant. It is usually a clear substance that will help protect the paint from the elements. You can also install a roofing membrane over the paint.

Closeup of a homeowner applying a coat of roofing sealant to a shingle
Courtesy of Bob Vila

The idea behind reflective roof paint is to save energy. It is not a substitute for a proper roofing system. If you have problems with your roof, you should address them before painting it.

Can I Just Water the Roof To Keep It Cool?

You can water your roof to help keep it cool, but it will not have the same effect as reflective paint. The water will evaporate in a few minutes, leaving your roof exposed to the sun. Watering your roof can also be a waste of water. 

Reflective paint is a better way to keep your roof cool. It does not evaporate like water, and it will reflect the sun’s heat as long as it’s still there.

Reflective paint is also better to protect your roof from the sun’s radiation. Besides, nobody wants to water a roof every other hour. So save yourself the hassle and get a bucket of reflective paint.

The Future of Reflective Roof Paint

The future of reflective roof paint is exciting. New coatings are developed all the time, and they are becoming more and more effective at reducing energy consumption.

We have already seen products with aluminum flakes, ceramic particles, and even plant-based oils. Who knows what the future will bring?

However, we can be sure that reflective roof paint is here to stay. It is an effective way to reduce energy consumption and save on energy bills and one of the simplest, most efficient ways to keep your home cooler during summer.

The reflective paint variation with aluminum flakes is exciting. These particles reflect sunlight very well. Not to mention there’s a wide range of colors to choose from.

You can go with the traditional white or silver, or choose a color that will match your home. The paint is also resistant to fading and chalking, so it will look gorgeous for years to come.

Deciding Whether Reflective Roof Paint Is Right for You

Reflective roof paint is not suitable for everyone. You need to live in a climate where it will be effective, and you need to have the correct type of roofing material.

For example, a tin roof is not a great candidate for reflective paint. However, you can apply it on asphalt roofs with no issues.

As long as you meet these requirements, reflective roof paint is a great way to save energy and money.

Conclusion

Reflective roof paint can save resources, but it’s not suitable for everyone, so make sure to consider your weather conditions and type of roofing material before deciding.

The reflective paint with aluminum flakes is particularly interesting, as it’s resistant to fading and chalking. There is also reflective paint for glass which can help reduce heat transfer in homes. In short, the future of reflective paint is bright.

So if you’re thinking about painting your roof, consider reflective roof paint. It may be just what you need to solve your home cooling issues.

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