Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Summary: Matching shingles to your siding enhances your home’s look. Picking the right roof shingle color is vital. Dark shingles can shrink a small house, while light ones make it appear larger. Climate and local style rules matter. Black asphalt shingles are classic, but consider your region.
Matching new roof shingles to your house’s color scheme is an important decision. The color of a roof can completely change the look of a home, and replacing the roof can greatly improve your home’s curb appeal. But roof shingles must be complementary to the house siding if they’re going to look good. No matter how high quality your shingles are, the house will be an eyesore if they don’t match.
There are many things to consider when figuring out how you will match your roof shingles to your house. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the different things you should look into to match the color of your roof shingles to your house.
Shingle Color Choice Affects How Big a House Looks
One design concept that applies across all mediums is this – objects that are darker in color appear smaller and recede in space, and objects that are lighter in color appear larger and seem closer. While this is purely a visual illusion – the roof obviously will stay the same size no matter which color shingles you choose – it can make a big difference in how people see your house.
If you already have a small house, it’s advisable to avoid dark-colored roof shingles since these dark shingles will make the house appear even more compact and cramped than it already does. Likewise, if you want to make a small house seem bigger, opt for lighter-colored shingles instead.
- Dark shingles can have a dramatic effect on a larger house, especially if it also has dark-colored trim against a light siding.
- Light shingles can look washed out and drab on a large, light-colored house.
While these are some general rules about how the color of your roof shingles affects the visual size of your house, there are also other factors to consider, such as the color of your siding and any architectural details you may have on the exterior of your house.
On a psychological level, lighter-colored buildings are seen as cozy and welcoming, while buildings of darker colors are seen as more grounded, stable, and conservative. The type of roofing color you go with will entirely depend on the “look” you’re going for in your home’s exterior and what kind of vibe you want it to give off about you.
Climate Makes a Difference in Shingle Color
If you want to be more practical in choosing your roofing colors, consider your climate. The temperature of your location will be an important factor in deciding what would be a more energy-efficient roof color for your home.
Here is how the climate you live in can affect your choice of roof shingle color:
- Hot climates: Hot climates are a good choice for lighter roof shingle colors as well as lighter house siding since white is reflective and helps to bounce heat off the house versus absorbing it. This can keep your house much cooler in the warm summer months.
- Cold climates: Cold climates are a good choice for darker roof shingle colors and darker siding because dark shingles (like black asphalt) can not only help absorb sunlight and retain its heat better in the dead of winter, the residual heat that builds up in the roof shingles can help snow melt away more quickly in the winter.
97% of the heat that hits a black shingle is absorbed by it, while only 76% of the heat absorbed by a light-colored shingle is absorbed. (Source: Florida Solar Energy Center) Since roof shingles are spread across the entire breadth of the house, roof shingle color can make a huge difference in the overall insulation of the home regarding heating and cooling.
However, there are some other considerations to think about when it comes to climate and roof shingle color. Because they absorb more radiant heat from the sun’s rays, dark-colored shingles tend to break down more quickly, especially in climates where they are exposed to a lot of standing snow.
Shingle Color Should Be Darker Than the Body of the House
A general guideline you should follow when matching roof shingles to the color of your house is that you should almost always choose a roof shingle color that is darker than your house siding. Shingles that are darker than the siding help to ground a house visually in space and—in the case of multi-story houses—can also help balance and offset the height of the house.
There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the siding of a house is extremely dark, you probably shouldn’t choose an even darker color for the roof. However, very few light roof color combinations look good on houses with dark colors, so sticking with the traditional “darker roof, lighter siding” motif is safer, especially if you live in a neighborhood where the housing styles are relatively similar.
Choose Dark Neutral Shingle Colors for Classic Homes
If your home’s architecture is more traditional, your best bet is to choose a darker, neutral shingle color. These colors not only go well with a wide variety of home designs, but they also tend to blend in well with adjacent roofs and can be used with a variety of siding colors to good effect.
There are a few other advantages of choosing dark neutral shingle colors as well, such as:
- Curb appeal: Darker-colored roofs tend to draw the eye upward and can make a house look more formidable and more appealing from the road. This is especially true if the roof is darker than the roofs on either side of the home.
- Availability: Since many people choose some form of dark neutral shingle color, there are a ton of variations for you to choose from. While all the colors you select from can have the same dark tones, they come in many shades that can complement a wide variety of house siding colors.
- Durability: While darker-colored shingles may take more sun damage in consistently hot climates, they also tend to look nicer longer than light-colored shingles, which can develop a patchy look over time. Because of their dark color, dark neutral shingles tend to cover up imperfections in the roof more easily.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a dark neutral shingle color for your home is to match the general tone of the house’s siding. For example, a beige house would look best with a dark brown roof, while a house made of light gray stone would look best with a dark gray shingle.
Combination Homes May Require Custom Shingle Colors
Building materials make a big difference when deciding how to match your roof shingles to the color of your house. If your house incorporates a lot of stonework, you’ll want to incorporate those same gray or brown shades into the color of your roof shingles. On the other hand, if your house uses brickwork, you’ll need to look at the color of the bricks to determine the tone of your roof.
However, some houses use a combination of both stonework and brickwork. These combination houses can be a bit more challenging to match roof shingles from an architectural standpoint since matching to the brickwork alone will cause the stonework to clash, while matching to the stonework will cause the brickwork to stand out (and not in a good way).
One option to solve this dilemma is to look into customized single colors. Roofing experts can take a look at your house and determine what combination of colored roof shingles would best incorporate the tones of all the structural elements of your home.
If your combination home has one shade that is shared in both your brickwork, siding, and stonework, then this should be the color you focus on when determining what shade to go with for your shingles. It’s very easy to accidentally choose shingle colors that clash with the rest of the house in a combination home, even if the shade of the shingle looks good against each architectural element individually.
Shingle Color Should Match the Trim
One of the easiest ways to choose a shingle color to match your house color is to match the shingles to the trim. By doing so, you can help draw the color of the roof across the entire house and make it look like one cohesive design rather than being divided into a dark top and a lighter bottom.
The trim on a house includes the building materials that frame the doors and windows, as well as the following:
- Fascia boards
- Frieze boards
- Corner posts
The major benefit of choosing a shingle color that matches your home’s trim is that you can choose your roof color first and then match your trim to it afterward. This way, you can create an agreeable look across the entire exterior of the house.
If you don’t like the color of your current roof shingles next to the siding of your house, painting the trim to match the roof can instantly make your entire home exterior look more put-together.
Colored Roof Shingles Are Better for Certain House Styles
While colored roof shingles can look gaudy on the wrong house, certain house styles lend themselves well to colored roof shingles.
Here are a few examples:
- French Country: French Country style houses tend to feature stucco walls and stonework in softer, almost pastel neutrals. This is one of the few house styles that look good with lighter-colored roof shingles such as blue or green. French Country is also a house style where you may see lighter roof shingles or roof shingles that are close to the shade of the house color itself.
- Colonial: Colonial-style homes often feature large, expansive layouts and bright white siding with a darker roof. The main challenge in matching the house color of a Colonial house to the roof shingles is that Colonial homes usually feature some kind of brick façade, making matching more difficult. It is a good idea to look closely at the brick and pull a darker neutral (such as gray) straight from the colors you find to avoid a tonal clash.
- Victorian: Because Victorian houses feature a steeply pitched roof, it’s important to make sure that the color of the roof is not too dark in comparison to the color of the house. This particular contrast can create an intimidating look because the architectural elements of a Victorian lend themselves better to a softer color palette.
- Tudor: Tudor homes are usually a combination of brickwork and timber, which can make them a little more difficult to match. Even if you pull a color from one of the individual architectural elements to carry into the roof shingles, it may still appear to clash unless you pick a color that can complement the brickwork, stonework, and half-timbering all at once. Shades of brown shingles are usually a good choice for Tudor homes.
- Craftsman: Craftsman houses feature a lot of woodwork both on the interior and exterior of the home, so darker shades of brown and gray often match well with these homes. Craftsman bungalows are often trimmed out in bright white to off-set their somewhat darker roof and siding colors.
- Mediterranean: Mediterranean houses often feature a stucco or adobe brick exterior, and these houses are one of the few houses that lend themselves well to terra cotta roof shingles, which are a trademark of the style. Many Mediterranean houses use white or light colors in their siding to reflect the warm climates these houses are found in, but the roof shingles can range from a warm rust color to slate gray (though warmer colors are more traditional).
If you don’t know what style your house is, check out this handy list from DIY Network. You can get a lot of inspiration for how to match your roof color to your house color by checking out other houses of a similar architectural style and seeing how they are set up color-wise.
Consider the Neighborhood When Choosing Roof Shingles
It might be tempting to put your personality into choosing your house or roof color, but be wary—you don’t want to end up the eyesore on the block that everyone is talking about. Be sure to consider both the color aesthetics of the houses adjacent to your property and what colors would look good on your house.
The key to choosing a good match for your roof shingles and siding is to choose colors that are similar to the houses around your property but stand slightly out in some way against them. There is a fine line between standing out and sticking out like a sore thumb. Being slightly different than your neighbors can help when it comes time to resell your house, as it can make the home stand out from the curb more easily.
It’s also important to look into the regulations if you live in a neighborhood that is controlled by a Home Owner’s Association (HOA). These organizations often put very tight restrictions on what kind of color combinations and architectural elements are permitted in a neighborhood. This is not only to maintain cohesion in aesthetics across the entire neighborhood but also to prevent people from painting their entire house Pepto Bismol pink.
Even though you may personally be attracted to Key West levels of color in home architecture unless you live in Key West, you’ll want to avoid slathering your house siding or your roof with garish colors. Not only will your neighbors hate you for it, but you may also be forced to re-do everything to sell the property later on. As much as you like your house painted Caribbean blue, good luck finding a buyer who is also enamored with the color.
Check Out Color Visualizers to See Options for Roof Shingle Colors
A good way to see what colors would look good on your roof shingles or your house siding is to use a color visualizer. There are many roof color visualizers, such as this visualizer from Iko, that allow you to input photographs of your home and overlay a new colored roof or siding over the photograph, letting you see what the new color would look like before ever putting a brush to house paint or a hammer to a shingle.
Playing around with a color visualizer can let you see several different combinations of roof shingle and siding colors without ever having to commit a cent to the renovation, and if you’re still in the beginning stages of planning a major home construction or remodel, messing around with visualizers like this is a good way to get a rough idea of what you do and don’t like in color combinations.
Even if you can’t decide on a specific roof shingle color through a color visualizer, it should still be able to point you in the direction of shades that you like so that you can narrow down your search. Narrowing down your search can make it more likely for you to find a shade you like once it’s on the house.
Blended Roof Shingle Colors Can Help Bland House Siding
If you’ve got a bland beige house color, one way to liven it up is to do a blended roof. A blended roof incorporates several different shingle colors within the same tonal family for a dappled look. Not only can a blended roof add visual interest to an otherwise plain-looking house, but the multiple tile colors can also help to hide fading and other cosmetic defects caused by age and environmental damage.
Blended roofs can also be a great choice for houses that incorporate multicolored brickwork. Since brickwork tends to have multiple tones, a blended roof can help mimic this appearance, pulling the color of the brickwork upwards. However, since a blended roof is a bold look, it is usually best paired with a home with neutral colors such as white, light gray, or beige.
Blended roof combinations can come in various color choices, from shades of blue and grey to shades of brown and red and even different shades of green. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the more detailed your home’s siding is, the less blended roof shingles are a good idea.
Blended roofs can help to bring out the details in a bland or architecturally vague house, but in a house with a bunch of other design elements, a blended roof can cause the house to clash and look visually cluttered.
Black Is the Best Color for Asphalt Shingles (Most of the Time)
Black is one of the classic roof colors for a few reasons:
- It’s a neutral that matches many different styles.
- It tends to make other tones appear brighter to the eye.
- It recedes from view.
While you might think a black asphalt shingle roof would clash with your home design compared to other roof colors, black roofs tend to fade into the background to let other architectural features take center stage.
However, there are a few exceptions—black shingles don’t look all that great with a dark brown or navy-colored house. For those colors, you’ll want to choose a shingle color that is closer tonally to the color of the siding, such as dark gray shingles for a navy house or dark brown shingles for a brown house.
Another major benefit of black shingles is that they hide damage and neglect better than lighter roofs, which can begin to look faded and patchy after several years. (Source: Homelife Roofing) It is harder to see wear on a black roof.
However, black shingles aren’t necessarily a great choice for homes in a hot or tropical climate since they tend to absorb almost all of the heat that beats down on them from the sun, which means that it will cost more to air condition a home with a black roof in hot weather.
Overall, dark roof shingles may not last as long as shingles with lighter colors. Still, black shingles remain one of the most popular choices for roof color since these shingles match so many different siding colors and architectural designs. Dark gray and dark slate blue shingles can also serve as slightly lighter shades for a softer look.
Check Roof Shingle Availability Before Choosing a Color
Before you get your heart set on a particular roof shingle color, especially if you’re choosing a color that is a little out of the ordinary, start shopping around and make sure that you can find the color you want locally. You always have the option to have roof shingles shipped from elsewhere, but finding shingles locally will be a much easier and faster way to get the materials you need.
Many different roofing shingle colors are available in home improvement stores, and this can be one of your easiest venues for procuring a color you like. Not only that, but many home improvement stores will also deliver your shingles either for free or for a small fee.
A major benefit of getting your roof shingles locally (other than being able to see the shingles in the flesh before buying them) is that you have a physical location to go to in case something goes wrong.
If you order your shingles online, it could be a customer service hassle trying to get them replaced if they arrive broken or damaged. However, if you bought them locally, usually, a receipt is good enough to get a refund or a replacement.
While checking for availability on the roof shingles you want, ensure the vendor has enough of them. You don’t want to buy a set of shingles and have to go back later, as you may end up with shingles from a different batch that are slightly off-color from the ones you bought previously. This color wander may not seem that bad on individual tiles, but it may be much more visible when the tiles are laid out on the roof itself.
Matching Your Roof Shingles to Your Siding Can Improve the Overall Look of Your Home
Plenty of tools are available these days to test out various color combinations of roofing shingles and siding colors. These allow you to see different options before you’re forced to commit to one. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take your time and think things through carefully. A roof is something you’ll have to put up with for a long time, so if you’re installing one, you better get the color right the first time.
When you hit a perfect combination, a roof that matches your siding well can be the difference between a house that dazzles from the curb and a house that is upstaged by its neighbors.
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