Choosing Your Roof Color: Art or Science?
I’ll be honest, I used to dread having a
homeowner ask me about color choice for their roof. What if they took my advice
and hated the color? Other than my experience in the roofing industry, I am no
color expert, so why does my opinion even matter?
Then one day while doing my typical dodge the
question routine, a persistent homeowner stopped me in my tracks and said,
“Listen, I did not ask your advice on roof color so I could hold you
accountable for my choice. I may not like your advice, in which case I won’t
take it. On the other hand, you may have an opinion that I have not considered
that I really like. Either way, the decision is going to be mine.” Fair enough,
I tell that story to qualify that everything I
suggest here is my opinion, based on the way I perceive color and my personal
preferences. I have been in this industry a long time and I pay attention to
roof styles and colors. Also, my wife thinks I am pretty good at choosing
colors, so I am the final decision-maker for all paint colors in our home. That
is the extent of my qualifications on color, so there you have it.
art or science?
Now to the good stuff. For me, choosing the
right color is mostly art (duh, I am a marketing guy!). An engineer might take
a more scientific approach. How ever you come to your choice is not important,
but there are things to consider that I will share with you.
An important first question to ask is, “Am I
choosing this color just for me? Or am I also concerned about selling my home
and making it appealing to a larger audience when the time comes?” Changing
your roof color is a large undertaking (I will answer the question on your
mind…no, you can’t paint your roof!) so consider that it will be there for a
While blues, greens, and reds may be an excellent choice on your home, a
potential buyer may want to change the house color and may not like options
that work with these niche colors. Blacks, grays, and neutral earth tones lend
themselves to a broad spectrum of house color options, which might be
preferable if you intend to sell your home in the near future. Neither choice
is wrong or inherently better.
I roofed my first house, which was painted
sunny yellow with white trim, with a Sherwood Green roof and it looked
fantastic (in my opinion). My current home is a Clinker Brick rambler with
Charcoal roof. Both choices work, which brings us to our next question, “What
am I trying to achieve with my roof color choice?”
My first home was very small
and I wanted to make a statement. The yellow and green combination made an
otherwise unremarkable home stand out and, it was fun. Since
clinker bricks are a patchwork of colors, I did not want my roof on my current
home to compete and take away from its visual interest, which is why I chose
charcoal. It is a stately color and complemented the black in the bricks.
For a mountain cabin, perhaps you would
consider earth tones to harmonize with nature. Maybe you would choose Pewter
Gray for your house in the city. In the end, you want to decide if your roof is
the feature or the complementary player in your home’s color scheme.
a Color, Now What?
Once you have narrowed down your color choices,
go to your local specialty roofing materials
distributor and get some physical samples to take home. Asphalt
shingles have a granulated surface and the color will appear to change with
varying angles of the sun, shadows, clouds…you name it. The color you perceive
in a distributor’s showroom may be very different form what you perceive at
home. Take that extra step to give yourself the best chance of achieving the
look that you want.
There are probably
dozens of other considerations (even scientific ones) that I cannot begin to
touch on in this brief blog. So, I will leave you with this final piece of
advice: choose a color you really like because you will live with it for a long
period of time. Your home. Your roof. Your way!
Note about the author:
Kevin Olson is the Manager of Customer Service and Marketing at PABCO®
Roofing Products. He has been in the roofing materials industry since 1988 and
really likes to talk about roofing. Don’t believe it? Send him an email,
give him a call, or reach out on