If the first thing you notice is the colour of the roof when you drive up to your house, that’s a good indication that it may not be the right choice. Here are the 5 best ways to choose your roof colour.
About a year before I started writing this blog (in 2007), I was partners with another interior designer and we were specifying finishes for spec homes. One day we were sitting in a meeting with the builders who had hired us, discussing exterior colour and I calmly announced that, “All [asphalt] roofs should be black.” All four of them looked at me, nodding in agreement.
All asphalt roofs should be black.
One of the biggest reasons why I like a black roof so much is because I have rarely seen an asphalt brown roof that doesn’t look patchy. In fact, I’m pretty convinced they don’t make one anymore. If the first thing you notice is the colour of the roof when you drive up to your house, that’s a good indication that it may not have been the best choice.
Obviously, exceptions to black would be in hot climates where it would attract too much heat or with a natural shake roof, which obviously will never be black or when building a Mediterranean style home, for example.
And if you have too much roof, black would be too heavy. Keep reading for a good example of what I mean by that.
>> I can help you choose the perfect roof colour from home with my eDesign consultation.
However, every house is different and don’t assume your roof should be black just because you’ve read this post.
I’m simply saying that often it’s the best choice, but it’s still not like a pair of jeans that go with everything.
Those of you who regularly read my blog will know by now that I approach choosing permanent elements like tile, countertops and backsplash from a classic design perspective and exterior fixed elements are no exception.
Here are some good guidelines to keep in mind when choosing your roof. After all, your roof, depending on what material you’re using will last much longer than a paint job.
1. Stay away from an overtly coloured roof.
For the average, traditional house, stay away from an overtly coloured roof. Here are some exceptions. But, notice they are very customized to the specific style of the home.
The blue green slate roof and coordinating shutters on the house above work perfectly with the look and feel of this French country exterior. If I lived in this house, I would be very happy with these colours forever.
An orange clay tiled roof is usually on a spanish, Mediterranean or French Country style home. See this post for more on Mediterranean exterior colours.
The red roof with blue and white siding works with the nautical feel of this contemporary home.
This cottage style house (above) with the river rock chimney and coordinating siding colour looks great with the green standing seam metal roof. The setting suits the house. The green roof doesn’t yell, “Look at me, look at me” because everything looks totally pulled together including the bench in front of the window. If you’re thinking of a metal roof, don’t miss The Right Way to Choose a Standing Seam Metal Roof.
2. If the style of your home does not dictate a colour, choose a dark neutral.
This is the one place where your roof colour should be neutral and not colourful.
The siding on this house relates to the stone and the roof is just neutral in the background. Black or charcoal colour roof works on this house because the design is not roof heavy.
The above house has so much roof that it makes black a bad choice. Of course the heavy, blotchy look of the decorative stone and black trim combined, add to the bleak feel of this home.
3. If you have a stone or brick house, choose your roof colour very carefully.
Most brick or stone homes do not change colour very often (unless you decide to paint your brick) so this will largely impact choosing your roof colour.
The earthy gold stone on this house combined with the creamy beige brick dictate a very custom coloured roof but this roof is reddish pink and again looks patchy. I’m not a fan of combining stone or brick in general however I think this is a better combination than many I’ve seen.
Unfortunately, the roof colour no longer blends in with this colour scheme. A solid, grayed spanish style roof to go with the French Country style of this home would have been a much better choice.
One of my readers snapped this picture (below) of a house being built in her neighbourhood. There are way too many high end homes that look like this. This home aesthetic is NOT classic at all with two completely unrelated colours of brick and/or stone chosen for the same house.
As I understand from clients who I’ve consulted with, there are neighbourhoods where you don’t have a choice. It’s in the covenant that you must choose a combination of stone and brick. And if someone else has already chosen the best combination of brick and stone, you are left with the alternatives and there are not many.
This house (above) is lovely. The stone walkway relates to the solid brown standing seam metal roof which is perfect with the creamy stone.
4. If your home has a combination of brick and stone, you may be required to choose a custom roof colour.
If you have brick or stone or both on your home, that’s when the colour of your roof becomes the most important decision you will make regarding the exterior colours of your home. And, that’s when a custom colour will most likely be required over black or brown.
Both the roof and the stone on the house above, combined with the stacked stone columns, green-grey trim and bronze windows create a very busy colour scheme. And the navy blue siding relates to nothing.
This patchy brown roof on this house above only competes with the busy stone on this home and creates an overall dark looking combination.
The reason why brown roofs are the most popular roof colour choice is the same reason why there is more pink-beige carpet and sofas sold than any other colour:
Homeowners who are on their own choosing finishes mostly assume that they need to go as neutral as possible so they don’t make a mistake.
What colour is the most neutral? Brown seems to be the most common answer in my experience. Or light brown, which is actually pink-beige because that’s the colour you end up with. It looks warm and neutral on a small scale sample until it’s installed all over your house, inside or outside.
5. Follow this general guideline when choosing an asphalt roof: Choose a darker colour than the body of your house.
There’s something grounded and solid about this look that I think really works and reads more classic. Unless of course your house is a very dark colour or as we saw above, there’s more roof than siding, then a lighter roof is necessary.
If you are incorporating stone, which is generally much more patterned than brick on your exterior, stay away from patchy, blotchy asphalt in general.
Asphalt roof manufacturers no longer seem to sell solid coloured roofs because they have become more focused on trying to create the ‘dimension and texture’ naturally created by Mediterranean roof tiles, shake or slate roofs. However, unless you have a very plain home, the added combination of a multi-coloured asphalt roof with other textures on your home can add up to BUSY and BOSSY.
A well-planned and coordinated colour scheme will create a sense of harmony in the colours and building materials, so choose carefully because everyone will notice – including you!
If you need help choosing a roof colour, you can take advantage of my Exterior Colour Solutions
Can you Mix Brick and Stone on your Exterior?
The Best Exterior Trim Colours NOT Cloud White
Why Good People Choose Bad Colours for their Exterior
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