Securing yourself an energy efficient roof is one of the best ways to lower energy costs over the course of a year. The difference between the temperature of upper floors under a black tar roof and those underneath a roof painted white can be a matter of several degrees. When it comes to how hard your central air or window unit air conditioners have to work in order to bring your upper floor to a comfortable temperature, it’s easy to see how helpful a white painted roof can be.

By now you must be preparing for the “it’s not easy, but it’s worth it” part, but the honest truth is that painting your flat top roof white is a surprisingly easy process that can be explained in six steps:


Go to a home improvement store armed with the knowledge of what kind of underlying roofing material you have – whether it’s concrete, asphalt, clay, etcetera. Approach someone in the paint department to find out which kind of paint you need and how much you’ll need for the size roof you have. Same goes for the primer. Make sure to invest in a sturdy paint roller. Also buy roofing caulk, sanding materials, and a long length of strong rope if you don’t have these items.


Get up on your roof and clear it of debris with a broom. Sweep clean every nook and cranny. If it’s possible, run a hose up there and power wash the entire surface and wait for it to dry afterward.


Inspect every section for cracks and blisters that break through the outer tar coating. Caulk these spots up as much as possible.


While the caulk dries, bring up your bucket or buckets of paint with your length of rope. Make sure you have everything you need up there with you – including a bottle of water to keep you hydrated.


Once the caulk is dried, smooth your roof out as much as possible with a sander, including the build-up of dried globs of caulk. Afterward do a final sweep to clear your roof of the dust churned up from the sanding.


Apply paint and primer in several coats over the span of a day. Always start at the opposite end of where your ladder is, and set aside a small space to keep your supplies until the end, wherein once the rest is complete you can clear and touch up while positioned on your ladder.

Once the final coat dries, you’ll have yourself a brand new white roof that will act as a reflector of the sun’s heat instead of an absorber. It won’t take but a day for you to see measurable results on your thermostat, and but a month before you see the savings on your electric bill.

Some final things to remember: Hold off painting an old roof white until you’re sure it’s on its last leg, as re-tarring a painted roof is nearly impossible. In addition, check the weather before beginning your project.

And to think – you could have painted your roof white years ago! Regardless, it’s better late than never to utilize the energy efficiency of having a white painted roof.

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Richard Thompson

The author Richard Thompson