Oil vs. Acrylic paint on old metal roof

Hi there,

I’ve got an old standing seam metal roof, circa 1932.

There are many rusty spots on this roof, and a previous owner had brushed an aluminum coating over the roof (some of which is flaking off).

So after I powerwash, wirebrush, and powerwash again, it’ll be time to prime and paint. I’m getting conflicting information about what paint to use.

Acrylic offers flexibility and oil offers water-proofing, hopefully protecting the roof from rusting too much more. Maybe an oil primer and acrylic top coat? But then the house won’t be able to “breathe.”

Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • John


Use oil.

Your metal roof will not breath no matter what paint you use.

hi Lefty,

and just when I’d decided on acrylic…

isn’t oil too rigid though?

My advice would depend on what goals youre trying to accomplish with this coating job.

Hi Aaron,

The goal is two-fold. Protection (to keep more rust from forming, after we power wash and wire brush it), and for aesthetics.

okay, what about using an oil-based primer (for better adhesion and its supposed properties of being better for surfaces that rust) and then using an acrylic top coat (flexible, won’t crack as easily, low VOC)?


I use a linseed oil based paint from Follensbee.


better yet, why not a power wash, a catylized rust inhibiting epoxy primer, then an acrylic SAYSTEM, if youre doing it yourself?