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How to Paint Dormers on a Steep Roof

how to paint dormers on a steep roof

Dormers on a steep roof can be a problem for painters. Just the thought of dealing with a multi-level surface presents a challenge to many painters.

I’ve been asked numerous times about what is involved in painting dormers, especially those that are on roofs with angles greater than 45° or so.

In this article, I am going to explain how to paint dormers on a steep roof.

Steep Roof With Dormers

Painting dormers can be challenging on a steep roof, but with the right preparation and tools you shouldn’t have too much trouble tackling this paint job.

Since there are several exposed faces on a structure like this, it is worth taking the time to make sure all exposed faces get properly prepared before giving them their coats of paint.

When painting dormers on your house, you should always get them ready before getting started on the rest of your house.

Things to Remember Before You Start

When preparing to paint dormers on a steep roof, there are some things that you should remember.

First, you will need to be sure that the roof is clean and free of dirt and debris before applying any coats of primer or paint.

Second, always use the appropriate tools for the job. For instance, if you plan on painting the sides of your dormer, you will need to invest in a small paintbrush.

This way, you can reach all of those hard-to-reach areas that would be left untouched with a roller or large paintbrush. 

You may also want to use protective gear for this type of job.

Such items as gloves and safety goggles should be worn when painting a dormer on a steep roof to protect your hands and eyes from getting paint on them.

In addition, it is always a good idea to protect the surrounding areas from being painted by you or from dripping paint brushes/rollers.

color paint with paint brush on top and ladder

Tools and Supplies Needed

Before you begin, you should have the following tools and supplies on hand:

  • Paint roller with extension handle
  • Paint tray
  • Drywall knife
  • Sponge brush
  • Ladder
  • Safety glasses

Procedure to paint dormers on a steep roof

The first thing you will need to do is clear the area surrounding the dormer of any debris.

If there are any bushes surrounding the area, you will need to trim them back for safety reasons.

Once that is done, grab your ladder and place it next to the dormer that needs painting.

Once the ladder is in place and stable, climb up and adjust it so you will be able to reach the underside of the eave on which you will be painting.

Next, take the safety glasses and put them on to shield your eyes from any debris that may fall from above.

Using a drywall knife, scrape off any moss or algae growing over the eave of the dormer.

If necessary, use a sponge brush to remove loose paint or dirt before you begin scraping.

You will want to make sure you remove any loose material to prevent it from falling onto your head while you are up on the roof.

If required, apply primer over the scraped area using a paint tray and roller.

If there is not enough room for you to stand at the base of the ladder, you can also do this step by having someone hold the tray and roller for you.

Once you have applied the primer, allow it to dry completely before you begin painting the dormer using a paint roller with an extension handle.

If necessary, use a paint tray and roller to apply two coats of your chosen color over the dormer.

Allow at least 24 hours for each coat of paint to dry before you climb back up onto the roof.

Once that is done, you should have a nice, new-looking dormer that should be protected from any future algae or moss growth.

constructing a dormer


  • It’s important to know your limitations and not try something you aren’t experienced with.
    • This includes working with tools, equipment, chemicals, etc.
  • Always follow the product manufacturer’s safety precautions/warnings when using power tools or any other equipment.
  • Never stand on a surface that isn’t designed to hold the weight of an adult human being (i.e.: don’t stand on a vent pipe lid).
    • If you’re working around roof mounted equipment, be aware of the forces that can act on them when you lean/stand against them.
  • Know your surroundings, especially where downspouts and valleys are located (if you paint near these features).
    • Never stand in front of a valley when applying paint/stain; if any water flows over it while you’re working, it will most likely land in the valley.
  • Always wear proper safety equipment when working on a roof (see references below).
  • Never work on your roof if it’s wet/raining, this can cause you to lose your footing.
    • Wait until conditions improve before attempting to climb onto your roof.
    • If you’re already up there and things start getting bad, get off the roof as quickly as possible.
  • The gutters should be cleaned before starting any work on a steep roof.
    • If they aren’t, it’s very likely that you will knock loose/missing shingles into them while you’re working (which can lead to leaks).
  • If your gutters are full of debris and you can’t get all of it out, don’t attempt to paint the area directly below them.
    • It’s a good idea to hire someone who is experienced with gutter cleaning (water flowing through them while you’re working could cause the debris in the gutters to shift).
  • Don’t work alone; make sure at least one other person is around when you’re working on a roof.
    • They can help in case of an accident, and also to hold the ladder steady if it’s windy/raining (and you need to get up/down it).
  • If at any time during your project you feel lost or confused about what to do, stop what you are doing immediately.
  • Never stand on a shingle that is loose or missing.
  • Always make sure the roof is stable before setting any equipment down on it (e.g.: ladders, paint buckets).
    • If you lean something against the edge of the roof with your foot, make sure you feel comfortable/safe doing so.

Final Thoughts

Painting dormers on a steep roof is dangerous especially if you are alone or you don’t know what you’re doing , so be careful.

Make sure to get someone qualified up there with you for safety reasons.

You could fall off or get hurt if you are not experienced in this type of work, so invest in some support staff rather than take any risks!

Tiled roof with wooden cladded dormer