How to Paint Dormers on a Steep Roof – A DIY Guide

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

Dormers are a lovely feature of many houses, especially the older ones. They add character and allow light to seep into second-floor rooms.

Because they are so exposed to the weather, you may need to repaint them from time to time. However, it can be difficult to paint dormers because they are often on very steep roofs with slopes of more than 18 degrees.

There are several methods for painting dormers on steep roofs safely, including extension ladders, chicken ladders, roof jacks, and lifts. Each one will get the job done effectively while keeping you safe and sound and making your siding and windows look perfect.

There is a method for everyone’s budget and comfort level!

The Basics

It’s important that you choose a dry, sunny day for your painting work. If it’s raining, the roof could become slippery and you could fall.

Ensure that nobody will be directly below your work area, because you may drop a tool by accident. I have a friend who got a major concussion this way, so please mark off the area below where you’re working so that people know you’re above them.

The last thing to note is that tile and slate roofs are not appropriate for standing on, as they can be very slippery, even when dry. If your roof is tile or slate, please only use the extension ladder or lift methods below. If you can’t reach the dormers with those methods, it’s probably a better idea to hire professionals.

Using an Extension Ladder

The simplest way to paint dormers on a steep roof is to use an extension ladder. If your dormers are close enough to the edge of the roof, you may be able to reach them while simply standing on an extension ladder like this or even a long-enough telescoping ladder.

When using an extension ladder to get on your roof, it’s important that it is long enough to extend about three rungs past the edge of the roof. Any less than that and the connection between the ladder and the roof will not be stable and the ladder could slide.

Set up your ladder so that both feet are stable on the ground, and always maintain three points of contact with your ladder. For example, two feet and one hand, or two feet and one knee touching the ladder.

It is also important to note that whenever you are using an extension ladder near the electrical wiring on your house, it must be fiberglass and not aluminum.

The reason should be obvious. In case it isn’t, this is because aluminum is a great conductor of electricity, meaning that you could be electrocuted if the metal touches any exposed wiring.

Using a Chicken Ladder

For this method and the roof jack method, you’ll wear a harness connected to a roof anchor. Roof anchors fit over the peak of the roof and are screwed into the rafters.

After the roof anchors are secure, attach an industrial-strength harness with a carabiner to the loop at the top of the roof anchor. Put your harness on and you’re good to go!

Chicken ladders are a wonderful invention – they rest right on your roof to make it easy for you to move up and down. They come with a hook and a ladder. The hook fits over the peak of your roof and the ladder rests on top of your roof.

It’s best to buy one with a wheel attached so that you can easily slide it up to the peak of your roof without climbing all the way up.

Using a Roof Jack

A roof jack is a plank that provides you with a flat surface to stand on while you work on steep roofs. It is easy to install a roof jack yourself using materials you already have on hand.

First, you need to screw a few roof brackets into a rafter. You’ll want to place them every six feet or so, always screwed into rafters. Then, you’ll screw a plank of wood into the roof brackets.

Using a Lift

The last and most expensive method for painting on steep roofs is to rent a lift. Lifts provide a stable, large surface for you to stand on while you paint.

Articulating boom lifts are the best for painting dormers because they can rotate and move just about anywhere you need them to. If you want ultimate safety from falls, lifts are a great option.

In Conclusion

As someone who has done quite a lot of roof painting, I know how important it is to keep yourself safe and secure while working. There are many ways to achieve this, no matter your financial ability or comfort level with ladders.

Whatever option you choose for painting your dormers, if you reach a point where you feel unsafe, please hire a professional. Your safety is the most important thing!

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About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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