How to Paint Galvanized Flashing

Galvanized roof with a fan and flashing.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-20
What You'll Need
Protective gloves
Protective goggles
Zinc phosphate pretreatment solution
Detergent or alkaline cleaner
Acid based solvent
Fine grit sandpaper
Tack cloth
Metal Paint
Metal Primer
Paint brush
Paint roller

Galvanized flashing is an economical material that protects your home from unwanted water damage on your roof. It is not an attractive addition to your home, however. Galvanized steel is coated with zinc, while special oils and/or waxes are applied in order to prevent “white corrosion.” While you can paint the exposed surfaces of the flashing for a better aesthetic look, an improper paint job can lead to peeling down the road. Fortunately, you can avoid future issues by following these 6 steps for the best coverage.

Step 1 – Pickling

You must remove the zinc, wax, and oil build-up on the galvanized flashing prior to painting or the paint will not adhere properly. The best products to use are solvent-based. Take your rags and apply the solvent-based solution to the galvanized flashing, wiping evenly without adding too much pressure. Do this outdoors to allow plenty of ventilation. Always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions when using any kind of chemicals. Re-apply the cleaner however many times necessary to remove the unwanted build-up on the metal.

Step 2 – Profiling

Once the cleaning solution has fully dried, it is time to profile the metal with a white vinegar solution. Simply dip a rag in white vinegar and wipe the entire surface, ensuring that the solution is applied evenly throughout. The vinegar’s acid will score the metal’s surface and enable the paint to adhere better and avoid peeling down the road. If the steel is older and the zinc coating has already started to erode, then you might have to use sandpaper or a wire brush to remove the white rust prior to cleaning. Once the white rust is removed, apply the vinegar solution to the metal.

Step 3 - Priming

After the acid has dried, the surface is ready for the primer. It is best to use a primer that is made specifically for metal surfaces. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on whatever primer you choose to use and allow plenty of time to dry. While applying the primer, start from the top of the metal and work your way down, piece by piece. Avoid any large drips by promptly wiping them with a spare rag. The important thing to remember is to cover every area that needs painting.

Step 4 - Inspecting

Once the allotted drying time for the primer has elapsed, it is important to inspect your work before proceeding to the next step. If you accidentally miss a section then there is a strong possibility that the paint will not adhere properly to the metal. To avoid future peeling problems, simply inspect the entire surface and ensure that the primer was applied evenly throughout. If any portions are missing, then re-apply the primer and let dry before painting.

Step 5 - Painting

If the primer is dry and applied evenly, then it is time to start painting. Pick out a color that goes well with the rest of your home. Just like the primer, purchase a paint that is specifically made for metal surfaces. It is preferred practice to select a paint that is the same brand as the primer to ensure a great bond. Follow the same steps you did when you applied the primer, making special note to wipe off any extra drippings. Remember, not all surfaces of the metal can be seen from the ground, so make sure you are only painting the exposed portions of the flashing.

Step 6 - Final Inspection

Use the paint’s instructions to determine the amount of time needed for drying. Once the paint has properly dried, inspect the flashing for any parts you may have missed or where the paint was not applied in a thick enough coat. Re-apply the paint wherever needed.


It is important that you plan ahead for this project. Pick a nice day that is not too hot to ensure the flashing is finished on time. It is best to start priming and painting right after the surface of the metal has been profiled to ensure a lasting bond.