There has been a lot of hype around heat reflective paints lately. Is the hype justified and why would you want to pay a bit more just to get this new type of paint?

Heat reflective paint has been proven to be effective in reducing heat by over 24 degrees Fahrenheit. This is according to studies published by Columbia University and Howard University in the recent past. This cooling effect can cut energy consumption on AC cooling units by a significant margin thus saving costs for homeowners.

As you might have guessed from the name, heat reflective paint is a new type of paint formulated to prevent direct heat from the sun thus providing natural cooling. The paint is available in a variety of colors unlike in the past were only white or bright paints were the only ones capable of reflecting near-infrared rays from the sun.

It is believed that researchers at Columbia University were the first to create the formula for modern reflective paint. Recently, it has become a mainstream product sold all over the world and by different manufacturers.

A standard household in the United States spends thousands of dollars (close to $2000 according to recent EIA data and higher in hotter climates) in cooling so this is a welcome invention for efficient energy use and sustainability. Based on recent surveys, most people are either repainting with heat reflective paint or considering it for future construction.

How Long Does Reflective Paint Last white colour

How Do Heat Reflective Paints Work?

In the past, only those who chose to paint using bright and light colors benefited from the exterior paint’s ability to reflect light and provide some natural cooling. Of course, it is rare to find houses with white or light paint on the roof so most houses still absorb a lot of heat from direct sunlight.

Heat reflective paint takes natural cooling to a new level using a simple principle of light reflection. Modern heat reflective paint consists of two layers otherwise referred to as bilayer paint. The outer layer is a normal paint solution that can be in any color hence its superiority over traditional reflective paint that is usually white or silver

The inner or lower layer has a special ability to reflect near-infrared light thus preventing heat absorption. The entire bilayer paint film is about half a millimeter in thickness as originally developed by the researchers at Columbia University. This ability to reflect specific wavelengths of infrared light which is the main source of heat puts it above normal monolayer paint.

What Is Heat Reflective Paint Used For?

While research on the application of modern heat reflective paint is still ongoing, existing products are mainly used on roofs and house exteriors. You can choose to paint existing or new roofing using this new paint to take advantage of its reflection capabilities and reduce the amount of heat you get from direct sunlight.

Heat reflective paint is especially useful in regions with a lot of sun or natural heat like Nevada and parts of Texas. This paint is likely to become an instant hit in regions where residents were restricted to single-colored paints for home exteriors.

Modern heat reflective paint is also likely to find application in other industries where direct heat from the sun needs to be managed such as in the electric car industry, storage and logistics, textiles, and commercial buildings. As time goes by and new applications crop up, there will be more companies producing it putting downward pressure on prices.

Does Heat Reflective Paint Reduce Heat?

A surface’s ability to reduce heat emanating from the sun is determined by its total solar reflectance or TSR. Measurements to determine the total solar reluctance of any surface are done using a solar spectrum reflectometer. It is believed that surfaces coated with heat reflective paint have been found to have a higher percentage of total solar reflectance than normal dark paints and therefore act as natural insulators.

Heat reflective possesses significant heat reduction capabilities mainly thanks to its ability to reflect heat-generating infrared rays from the sun. Put on a scale against normal exterior paints, heat reflective paint would have far higher heat reduction abilities than traditional reflective paint. These paints reflect up to 50% of heat-generating solar radiation.

How Effective Is Heat Reflective Paint

There is no question about the effectiveness of modern heat reflective paint given how effective it has been proven to be as a natural insulator. Whilst normal dark paints used on most roofs and exterior walls absorb heat from the sun’s rays, heat reflective paints reduce sun energy absorption. This ability to reduce energy or heat from the sun is known as the albedo effect.

As primary studies have shown, heat reflective paint even when applied as a coating can reflect up to ninety percent of the sun’s heat-producing rays away from your house. This is something that you can only get in bright light paints like white or silver that may not be ideal for roofing materials or some modern architectural designs.

The Pros and Cons of Heat Reflective Paint

Heat reflective paint has many advantages over normal paint as well as traditional reflective paints. Here are the main ones:

  • Heat Reflective Paint Is A Natural Insulator

Heat reflective paint was specifically made to reduce heat absorption by reflecting heat-producing sun rays away from surfaces such as roofs and walls. This makes it a natural and effective heat insulator. You will be cutting the amount of heat you are getting from the sun significantly.

  • Heat Reflective Paint Protects Surfaces From Heat Destruction

Excessive heat from the sun’s rays (near-infrared light) has been known to destroy porous and non-porous surfaces like metallic roofs, metallic siding, wood siding, and vinyl. While reflective paint is primarily used to prevent heat absorption on sunny days, it will also prevent sun damage in the process.

  • Heat Reflective Paints comes In Many Colors

Perhaps the biggest advantage of heat reflective paint is that it is available in a variety of colors to suit every need, use, and architectural design. This is unlike traditional reflective paint that has to be pure white or any other bright color that can sometimes cause eye irritation in direct sunlight.

Dark exterior colors were traditionally known to absorb a lot of heat and were therefore not suitable for hot climates. This is why many houses and commercial buildings in hot climates like Nevada, California, Colorado, Utah, and parts of Texas tend to have white or brightly colored exterior paints. This modern heat reflective paint eliminates the need to have white or bright colors using its inner reflective layer to reduce heat absorption even in the sunniest states.

  • Heat Reflective Paint Is A Modern Paint

Being a modern paint that has only been around for a few years, expect any good quality heat reflective paint to have all the good features of modern paints such as quick-drying, corrosion resistance, better bonding, and lack of lead or other dangerous chemicals.

  • Heat Reflective Paint Is Good For The Environment

Heat reflective paint came at the right time alongside other inventions such as solar tiles in a period where energy usage needs to be more efficient to reduce emissions. As mentioned earlier, a typical household spends a big chunk of its energy on cooling in the summer months. Having heat-reducing roof paint over a normal roof paint can cut your energy usage significantly.

Imagine not having to put your AC on full blast in the hot summer sun if you happen to have people using your attic or top floor rooms. Heat reflective roof paints coupled with normal insulants can always eliminate the need to have the AC running and save you money in the long term. It’s a small investment you can make to contribute towards the green agenda and save money in the process.

How Long Does Reflective Paint Last?

There is clear evidence that heat reflective roof paint lasts a bit longer than normal non-reflective paint. It will not be as adversely affected by the sun’s rays as normal heat-absorbing paint due to its ability to reflect near-infrared light.

At the same time, modern heat reflective paint will last longer than traditional white reflective paint because it does not need to be cleaned as often. This is one big advantage of using heat reflective paint over traditional white paint if you need to reflect the sun’s rays away from your house.

Choosing the Best Heat Reflective Paint

Since the introduction of heat reflective paint, many manufacturers have jumped into the hype train and added a range of heat reflective paints in their product lineups. Some work as they should while others are just normal paints marketed as heat reflective paints.

Here is what you should do if you are shopping for heat-reflective paint today:


  • Look Out For Dodgy Marketing

Some of the low-quality or fake heat reflective paints can be identified by the way they are marketed. For instance, a common message you will find in their description is that the paint can be applied inside the house to keep you warm. This is not true as heat reflective paint only prevents heat emanating from sun rays on roofs and exterior walls.


  • Buy Reputable Paint Brands

You are most likely to buy substandard heat reflective paint if you buy cheap unknown brands, especially imported ones. Most of the top paint manufacturers in the United States already have heat reflective paints in their product lineups. Purchase these known brands and you will be assured that you are getting good heat reflective paint.


  • Seek Advice From A Professional Painter

Sometimes it’s best to have someone with experience help you choose materials for your project. If unsure about the heat reflective paint you want to use, ask a professional painter to help. Professional painters know and have experience using different paints and may also guide you when it comes to pricing.

Tip: Would you like to locate a top-rated professional painter near you? We have a free contractor search tool that can help you connect with some of the best painters in your location. All you need to do is type your zip code at the top of this page and answer a few questions. We will connect with at least three painters near you who will send a quote and some friendly advice.

How to apply Heat Reflective Paint

Heat reflective paint can be applied as normal paint on exterior surfaces such as walls, siding, and roofs or as a coating on already painted surfaces. Look for the right heat reflective paint depending on your project. Most people also find it easier to paint over existing normal paint just to get heat protection. You can choose any color you like or match existing colors.


Modern heat reflective paint provides some level of insulation especially if used on roofs but it does not replace traditional bulk insulation. Using heat reflective paint will cut your cooling energy costs in the hot summer sun by a significant margin. However, you still need to complement it with normal insulation for cold weather seasons.

White paint has been used for over a century as a natural heat insulator because it reflects up to eighty percent of heat-generating sun rays. However, you can now get the same or better amount of reflection from modern multi-colored heat reflective paint. You no longer must paint your roof or house white to prevent direct heat from the sun.

Timothy Munene
Author: Timothy Munene - Timothy is a freelance writer and an online entrepreneur.