Choosing Roof Color as I previously stated is a grueling process.
There are two parts to this article and it is important that you read Part 1 – Roof Type first. While it focuses on Roof Type it also contains information you need for choosing a Roof Color.
My original intention to help you select a roof color was to photograph various roofs and show how they would look on brick versus different colored painted houses. It all sounded good until I found out that I had to replace my own asphalt roof.
While my roof had many years of life left, the repair area would require new shingles that would not match with the existing shingles so I was forced to pick out a new roof. I found that my plan of posting photos was not as simple as I had hoped.
This method although more general should help you make a good selection along with knowing what colors to avoid.
Roof Color – the hard part!
A roof on older homes was something to be noticed and admired. So basically unless you had a slate roof, your roof was colored up until the 1950s when asphalt gray or not-colored roofing became the norm.
There are many roofing options today for real slate, or a replication slate, or asphalt in a slate color. The focus here is finding a color that would look best on your house no matter what the roofing material.
First, there has to be contrast between the roof and the painted trim on the house, otherwise the roof will look like it is coming down wrapping around the eaves of the house and look top-heavy. Think of it this way. Gray pants and a matching gray shirt is not a good look (pajamas excluded). There needs to be separation between the roof color, body color, and trim color. Gutters must be painted the trim color and not match the roof as so many roofers do wrong today.
When considering a roof color you also need to consider the possibility of future house colors. A roof that will work with many house colors is better than choosing a roof color that will prevent you or a future owner from new paint color opportunities.
How to Choose Roof Colors That Work With Your House.
For a more natural colored roof like wood shingle or slate, it gets a bit more complicated. First, we need to separate the roofing color options into two groups – Warm and Cool tones. Some roof colors are obviously cool like gray and blue and some obviously warm like brown. A lot of asphalt shingles are very difficult to tell if they are warm or cool. Identifying warm versus cool colored asphalt is important so the roof will not clash with your warm or cool house paint. Here is how to tell them apart.
House Color – Warm or Cool?
You first need to determine if your house paint is a warm or cool color. A color wheel may help. Every color has a hue. Let’s use green as an example. Green can either have a yellow or a blue hue. Yellow and blue are on the color wheel on each side of green. If there is a yellow hue the green is warm like olive. If blue, the green is cool like evergreen or teal. Warm house colors are more historic and provide a nicer appearance in my opinion and are easier to work with.
If your house is a warm color then you should have a roof that leans to the warm side of the spectrum. A white house can have either warm or cool. A red brick house can have a cool or slightly warm roof. Avoid very cool or very warm roof colors.
Asphalt Shingle Color – Warm or Cool?
Asphalt shingles are coated with small colored granules. These granules can be several different colors. You need to look at a sample asphalt shingle and examine the various granule colors to determine if the roof is warm or cool.
A cool roof will have more blue or gray granules while a warm roof will have more colors from the tan family.
Some asphalt shingles will have both gray (cool) and tan (warm) granules. This is normal so you must look for a shingle that has a majority of either cool or warm granules for the shingles to work with your house.
Showing you roof samples will not help since there are so many. You need to be the judge and decide. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the warmest, a 7 may be a good balance.
Blue and Gray Roofs
Stay away from a modern looking blue or bluish roof. It is not meant for an old house and will only look good on a white painted house and sometimes a yellow house. If you have a 40 year roof you are stuck with the same house color unless you replace your roof to avoid the colors clashing.
I would also be very careful with gray roof colors for in the sun they have a tendency to appear bluish. A gray roof is best on a white or a brick house. A cood gray roof limits house color options. Gray was a color seldom used on houses although it was used on outbuildings.
Slate Colored Asphalt Roof
Today slate roof colors are most popular. This is the most difficult roof shingle to choose for there are so many similar slate colors. It is important to look for more tan granules and less gray. Gray granules are fine and good to have but avoid a majority of gray. Some green and red granules add a very nice natural variety of color. A mildly warmer slate color will work best with warm house paint colors but do not go too warm.
For a red brick house choose the same but lean more towards the cool side of the shingle. This means more gray than tan granules.
When I was roof shopping for my house, one roof I really liked had red, green, tan, and gray granules. It was very difficult to tell if it was more warm or cool, but after some time I decided that the number of gray granules were higher than the other colors making the roof be too cool for what I wanted. This roof that I turned down would probably still appear acceptable on my house but definitely NOT the best. This combination looks wonderful on a red brick house.
Asphalt to Replicate Unpainted Wood Shingles
Natural unpainted wood shingles turn a silver color after 1 year. This variegated natural silver look will work with most houses.
To replicate the look and feel of natural wood shingles, I would recommend a muted medium brown. You will be very limited with a chocolate brown or dark brown roof and it will only work with a white or yellow house and some Tudors. I recommend a very neutral brown – like a weathered wood color (grayish brown) will look good with most house colors. Think brown and driftwood combined. The more neutral, the more flexibility.
See the difference below. Please do not ask me for the roof color for I have found these samples on random houses.
There are better wood shingle look-a-likes, but for color I just used the basic textured roof.
Red & Green Roof Colors
As I stated earlier, red and green roofs were extremely popular throughout history and it would be wonderful if red or green was used more today.
- Red Standing Seam or Red Asphalt: Red is a great color for a roof. A red roof works with most paint colors, warm and cool. A red roof is not recommended for red brick or red, rust, or brown paint on the body or the trim.
- Green Standing Seam or Green Asphalt: A green painted house is a very common color for old homes so if you want a green house and a green roof you must be very careful that the two greens do not clash. House colors are a bit more limited when used with a green roof than a red roof but a green roof can really add to a home’s curb appeal.
Old houses rarely had black roofs for they were associated with industrial buildings. A black roof or a charcoal roof do work well on a red brick house.
Variegated Shingle Roofs
While shingles are composed of a variety of different colored granules, the collection of tiny granules result in a soft variation or even the appearance of a solid color. Although a solid color roof is not very common today, a soft color variation works nicely.
There are also asphalt shingles that have variegated colored shingle tabs. A variegated roof can add a nice textured look but be careful of going overboard. Do not use on a house with brick or stone. These natural materials are usually composed of several similar colors and creates a textured or quilted look. If you have this look on the body of your house, you don’t want to see again on the roof. This patchwork is similar to wearing gingham pants with a different colored gingham shirt. Variegated shingles can look great on a plain house.
The house below would look so much better without such a strong variegated roof shingle. There is way too much going on here.
How to Shop and Choose
Obtaining samples from a roofer for the more high-end designer styles like Camelot, square or rounded asphalt slate style is not easy. I first looked online and in the catalog I was given. I listed the roof styles and colors I liked and asked for addresses of houses with these styles. They gave me two addresses of residential homes for each of the roof colors I liked. Most were nearby but some were an hour away. I drove to these locations and took photos. The lighting direction was different on each house and the house styles were different from mine and almost all with white vinyl siding. I was not impressed by any of the roofs or the colors and the photos I took did not do the roof justice either. Nothing jumped out at me as being the right roof for my house. I wound up selecting a slate color that were mostly composed of greenish and light tan granules to work with a burgundy trim and olive-tannish siding.
Most roofers offer GAF and Certain Teed asphalt roofs. I was told that Certain Teed was a better quality roof however I chose GAF since I liked the color better.
Steps in Selecting an Asphalt Roof
- After reading the information here, determine warm versus cool house
- Review roofing brochure or online roof options for roof colors.
- Select a few you like and have the roofer deliver samples.
- Place the samples flat in the sun and determine the warm and cool granules and rule out some that you don’t like.
- Place a sample asphalt shingle on your roof near the fascia if possible to reach or lean up against your house.
I know it sounds simple but I’m sorry to say it isn’t.
Still not sure? Need help? I am sorry but this is all I can help you with. I know there are a lot of things to take into consideration. This information will hopefully guide you although there is still a long way to go in making your decision.
One last bit of advice. Do it in the winter. The roofers really do try to cover shrubs etc. but all this weight from the roof that is removed takes its toll. Have the roof installed when your flowers are fading out in the fall or winter. Good luck!! 🙂