5 Best Ways to Choose your Roof Colour

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PLEASE NOTE THE COMMENTS SECTION IS CLOSED ON THIS POST. If you need help choosing a roof colour, you can take advantage of my Exterior Colour Solutions.

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.

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. Read on for a good example of what I mean by that.

However, every house is different and don’t assume your roof should be black just because you’ve read this post.

I’m saying 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 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. For the average, traditional house, stay away from an overtly coloured roof. Here are some exceptions, notice they are very customized to the specific style of the home.

How to Choose your roof Colour

The blue green slate roof and coordinating shutters 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.

How to choose your roof Colour

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.

How to Choose your roof Colour

The red roof with blue and white siding works with the nautical feel of this contemporary home.
How to Choose your roof colour

This cottage style house 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.

2. If the style of your home does not dictate choosing a colour choose a dark neutral. This is the one place where your roof colour should be neutral and not colourful. 

Black Roof

The siding on this house relates to the stone and the roof is just neutral in the background. Black/charcoal works on this house because the design is not roof heavy.

Dark Exterior

This house has so much roof that the black was 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 that will never change colour, that’s when your roof colour should be very carefully chosen.

How to Choose 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 better.

How to Choose your Roof Colour

One of my readers snapped this picture of a house being built in her neighbourhood. There are way too many high end homes that look like this. NOT classic at all with two completely unrelated colours of brick and/or stone chosen for the same house.

From what 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. 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.

How to Choose your Roof Colour

This house is lovely. The stone walkway relates to the solid brown standing seam metal roof which is perfect with the creamy stone.

4. 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.

Navy House

Both the roof and the stone on the house combined with the stacked stone columns create a very busy colour scheme. And the navy blue siding relates to nothing.

Patchy roof with stone

This patchy brown roof on this house 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 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 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. A general guideline to follow when choosing an asphalt roof is to choose a darker colour than the body of your house. There’s something grounded and solid about the 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.

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.

If you need help choosing a roof colour, you can take advantage of my Exterior Colour Solutions

Related posts:

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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Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 

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  1. Isn’t there anyway to make a light roof aesthetically pleasing? Black is so energy inefficient.

  2. Thank you for validating our choice of black. When I saw your subject I though, “oh no, now I get advise, AFTER the roof is done.”
    We went black and love the classic look!

  3. Love this post! I am about to get an asphalt roof on my beach house (which I hired you to help me with colors about 2 years ago). Now we are on to the outside and on a budget so going with asphalt. Was wondering if I should do black or charcoal (that looks more slate and patchy). Definitely going black now. You’re so right. Next you need to do a post on shutters and whether they must relate to the door and/or roof. I have a white house, black door and will have a black roof. I am getting differing opinions (from designers too!) on whether I can paint the shutters a different color than black since the roof will soon relate to the door. (Roof now is a patchy brown color – looks bad and doesn’t age well at all).

  4. Thank you for this post. Hubby and I are saving for a roof for next Spring. I just have one predicament, though. I have a traditional style cape cod. The pitch of the roof is a 12/12, faces the street, and slopes gradually over a front porch. All you see of the front of the house is what is underneath the porch roof and a small one-story segment to the side. Would you still recommend a black roof? I feel like our house is ‘all roof’ already.

    • I agree black can be too harsh if there’s too much roof. There are other products that are much better than asphalt, stay tuned for another post on what they are.

  5. great post Maria and I totally agree with you. A few
    years ago I had a client who had a ranch home that
    was brownish/grayish brick and she had selected a
    roof tile to match which would make her already
    looong house seem longer. So I suggested in order
    to breakup that line to use black. She did it was
    definitely a winner.

  6. You allude to my question in your post: what color(s) would you recommend for a home in a hot climate?

    Also, in various posts you’ve said white goes with black and cream goes with brown. Is this a case where one would have to choose different materials to make this work (like the pictured house with the brown metal roof)? Or do you just stick a black roof on and expect it to work regardless? (Our house is tan siding with cream trim, FYI.)

    • I’m strictly talking asphalt roofs when I say black. If you must use asphalt, depending on what is happening on your house, a blotchy, patchy asphalt roof in another colour can make it look worse. It’s fine if your house is a solid colour to have more movement on the roof.

  7. KITCHEN BATH DESIGN by GLORIA CLARK

    Awesome! Read this so fast cuz it was all “right on” in my book! Love♥ u! G

  8. Hi Maria,
    Very interesting and good demonstration with the pictures. I would be curious what your opinion is about dark blue shingles, whether it would be considered neutral. We have a brown brick bungalow and was planning to go with a deep dark blue colour for the front doors (to go with the roof).
    Thanks for any input.

    • I really don’t think you can take one colour and use it across the board as a neutral. What I dislike intensely is most of the patchy asphalt roofs I’ve seen and how they make an already busy house look even more busy.On your house, it sounds like the navy blue is a neutral but it wouldn’t be on someone else’s house with green, gold, orange stone for example.

  9. What color roof do you recommend when the roof is cedar shake (that must be stained/treated) and the house has orangey brick? A black or charcoal? Or the natural weathered light grey?

    • Lots of orange brick looks great with black or charcoal just like in my examples above. Also a weathered gray shake roof works on most homes as well.

  10. Great post! I love looking at shingles too. If we could stay away from stone on exteriors (except for really rustic timber homes or old Europeans), I think that would solve issues too. Stone that one homeowner puts in is the exact reason the next homeowner will call a designer, to hide or coordinate, when they move in.

  11. Although I agree from a visual standpoint, the issue of dark roofs in hotter climates is really a big deal. Perhaps a lighter charcoal would be the best compromise?

    • It absolutely is a big deal as I mentioned in my post. I’ll be talking about some new products that handle the heat really well coming up soon.

  12. Oh this is such a good Post Maria!! I wished you had
    written it a couple of years ago before I choose my 2
    roofs within 3 years cause of hail damage. I tried to go
    with the brick the best I could and finally went with the
    roofers suggestion. And your right too those shingles
    which are better and of course cost more only come in
    that “textured” look. I wished I had gone with black
    now but didn’t because of living in hot summers in
    Texas………….very good post……….Thank-you!!

  13. Great post, Maria! Here we have so many light and white roofs, and many people are covering their entire roof with solar panels. I am starting to think that in Hawaii everyone should go back to the brightly colored plantation tropical style colors for the exterior, with their white roof and white trim! That would make you notice the pretty color and draw attention away from the solar panels.

  14. What would you recommend for a ranch style house in the midwest? I have wondered if a metal roof would look odd since you usually see that on A frames.

  15. It’s funny, but I was just noticing how many patchy shingle roofs there are around here. We are due to get a new roof next year so i’m hoping I can find a neutral black or dark brown to match the reddish brick.

  16. omg, are you kidding me! Now I’m going to be staring at roofs every time I’m driving through a neighborhood. I’ve had this problem before with doors and windows… and became a dangerously distracted driver!

    Thanks for the excellent post and useful insights. Love your advice!!!

  17. I’ve spent way too much time looking at roofs. Before vinyl windows, bad roofs were my pet peeve, but it’s so hard to get it right and it’s not like repainting if its wrong! I think it’s the current housing designs that mixe so many style elements willy-nilly that’s the biggest problem. Older houses often had (coloured) solid and even multi-coloured asphalt shingle roofs and looked lovely as it was not distracting and added to the general charm. So I agree, solid is best with these new houses, but there are exceptions.
    I do not like brown roofs in general, but I think the patchy trend is meant to add dimension, It always looks fake to me. The slate you mentioned in your example looks to be fake slate judging from its uniformity, but still looks OK.
    Maybe some time you could do a post focusing on older homes of varying styles, but I understand most people have new ones. In my neighborhood we have a lot of clay tile in a few colourways, but most of it is flat and suits many styles of house.
    There is a new product developed by NASA that many asphalt roofing manufacturers are using to reflect light even with darker roofs. Unfortunately, since they are made for the international market, they are sized metric. That means one has to rip off the old roof if it’s in inches, which can add substantially to the expense. All the big manufactures have at least a few colours and it’s hardly more expensive. Great post.

  18. Great advice Maria! Two years ago I spent a long time driving around looking at roof colors for my white traditional house. I finally picked a varigated mid grey roof. When I showed it to my 28 year old construction engineer son (mostly commercial) right away he said NO! Go with the almost black even tone. Your roof lines are too plain and straight for that look. He was bang on and since then, four neighbours have chosen the same roof (and roofer) They all look great. I will now leave all decorating decisions to my first born and you of course!

  19. After reading this blog, I am definitely choosing a black roof for my new home. I have always wanted a house with a black roof and this convinced me for sure.

    However, I have a question about a metal roof that is in combination with the black roof.

    There is a seam metal roof over the front porch which has cedar shakes (light grey) and board & batten (white) over the porch. It is a craftsman style exteriorl

    Should the seam metal roof match the roof or can it be silver or charcoal or a totally different color? The body of the house will be a darker grey and the shutters/door will be black.

    I need to make this decision by next week. Help!

    Thanks!

  20. Thanks for this great blog! It makes so much sense!

    Now I just need to make a decision on our new roof…steel for sure. Our house is a very light grey brick (booooring) and I was thinking maybe a red roof? Just to make it a little less boring? I am a little scared because it is such a big change of what we have now! (dark grey roof)

    We have an European style farm house. What do you think?

    Thanks so much!! Have a great day!

  21. Great article! I’m in the process of choosing a new roof right now. I know you say black/charcoal roof for every home except if you have brick on your house this is when a custom color is required over black or brown? Are you saying black does not look good with every brick? From what I have to choose from, every color except the charcoal/black looks super patchy and busy. Even though a warmer toned roof might go better with my peachy brick, I worry it will look patchy. Is it ok to do a charcoal roof with a peachy colored brick? Thank you!

    • Yes, a black roof is not ALWAYS the best idea, but I have seen soooo many homes where I thought “If that roof was black this house would look so much better”. It’s the patchy problem that roofing companies call ‘dimension’ that I take issue with. Hope this helps, Maria

      • Thank you for your response! I hope my house with it’s coral peachy brick isn’t the one of the times a black roof isn’t the best idea?

  22. So glad I found this site. I am struggling with choosing roof color on new house I am building. My house has 12/12 pitch roof with 3 gables running on front plus one small one above where front door will be and that entrance will be stoned. This house will be brick, using glen gery ashland brick. They have this brick in the gray family on their site. It is earth tones to me but it pulls out some warm reddish color and after studying some houses on Houzz, I’m guessing i should use a white limestone. But on this roof color, I have seen a house with this brick that used mountain Slate(actually at glen gery store) and I see what you mean about busy. It looked ok in picture but it did definitely have a lot going on and was prob too busy. You could see the pale green blues. So with that in mind, I’m guessing the rustic black or black walnut is too black for the earth tones?? So leads me to weathered wood, or natural timber. There is an aged wood but I think it is lighter than the weathered. What is just your opinion do you think would work and not be busy? Who would have thought roof decision would be so difficult. Thanks for any input.

  23. We are putting a new roof on in a week or so and can’t decide on a color. Black looks good, but is it too hot? They will be architectural shingles probably by Owen Corning – Oakridge style. Our brick is multi-colored – a mix of black (some more charcoal after 35 years), red, and white. The contractor suggested light gray, but my husband leans toward browns. What do you suggest would look best?

  24. Hi, We are reroofing soon. Please help ! We have a big yellow house, wood siding, white trim veranda, and some black shutters, black front door, windows have white mutton bars. There is a lot of roof. Currently it is old cedar shakes, we will be putting on probably Landmark Tm, and I was thinking morie black, but I have a lot of roof and lots of pitches. But nothing else going on, stone ect. Black will be much more dramatic then current. The other option is a weathered wood shingle colour from Landmark that actual looks kinda like what we have now, and is more neutral blending in. What do you think ? I recognize that house above that is so dark with black roof and kinda gothic looking, I totally agree with you. I live close to it. Please advise, I’m so glad I found you.

  25. “Except when you have brick . . . most important decision you make.” Oh how scary! I was ready to go with charcoal on a very long ranch with creamy brick. Now I’m thinking weather wood is a nice mix of both. Is there really a safe simple choice for something so major and so visible on a creamy brick house?

  26. Hi.
    Can you go with dual black crc architectural shingle and have dark brown gutters. I don’t want to paint them. Thanks.

  27. Thanks for your top tips Maria! LOVE the selection of houses/examples and how gorgeous is the cottage with the river stone chimney? Delightful. Jane