Homeowners in Maryland and Washington, D.C., naturally want their roofs to be functional—keeping their families dry and warm for as many worry-free years as possible. Roof color might be a secondary concern, but it shouldn’t be for two important reasons:
- In a 2013 survey of realtors, 91 percent said that shingle color was important (as reported by our friends at GAF).
- Once you pick a roof color, you are generally stuck with it until you replace the roof or move to a new home. And if potential buyers like your house but not the roof, that’s going to affect resale value.
Roof color shouldn’t make you sweat (metaphorically, not literally, though we’ll explore that later), but the decision shouldn’t be made without due diligence. Here are some considerations that should factor into the choice of your next roof’s color:
What Was the Previous Roof Color?
If you were satisfied with the color of your previous roof and it complemented the rest of your home’s exterior, then you likely won’t need to deviate from that color too much. This might be especially true if you are not the first owners of the house but are replacing the original roof—likely (hopefully), the builder wisely picked a roof color that didn’t detract from the overall aesthetic of the home. You may not find the exact color (some styles often are discontinued over time), but you should be able to choose one in the same general ballpark that you can be confident will be a good choice for your home.
Your Current House’s Exterior
Of course, you might want a new look for your roof and your home. After all, if you are going to the trouble of replacing your roof, you should pick a color that appeals to you and is an upgrade to your house’s existing appearance. The exterior of your home, including siding, masonry, windows, doors, and architecture, will help dictate which roof color best complements and highlights the house beneath it. Some tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t pick the exact same color roof as the rest of your house’s exterior: You don’t want your home to be too monotone; some contrast is necessary to highlight each individual element.
- You can’t go wrong with neutral colors: Tan, brown, gray, and black are safe choices that rarely clash with your home’s exterior and often perfectly complement it.
- Be bold only if your exterior is calm: If the exterior color of your home is a strong, vibrant color, being as bold on the roof might make the house look too busy. Just like how a human couple with extreme personalities tend to fight a lot, a home with too many forceful colors might also clash.
- If you are planning to sell, be reserved: Potential homebuyers might be turned off if the first thing they see when they pull up for an open house is a loud roof. Stay conservative if you are replacing your roof in preparation for selling the house.
The homes in your neighborhood should factor into the roof color you ultimately decide upon. First, some homeowner associations may have rules on what color you are permitted to install. Second, you do not want to be that odd house in a historic neighborhood with purple and yellow shingles. Yes, that’s a ridiculous example, but you get the idea—you want your roof to blend in with the character of the block.
The DMV’s climate doesn’t give us clear choices on roof color, but remember this: Lighter roof colors reflect the summer sun and keep your home cooler. However, dark colors do not necessarily warm up your house during the winter. You are going to run the heat all winter anyway, but being able to turn the A/C off and open some windows in May or June is a nice option—one that’s not as likely to happen if your roof is absorbing too much sun. Many bigger factors affect your home’s energy efficiency more than roof color, so unless you are looking for a green (the attitude, not the color) choice, pick a color that follows the other guidelines detailed in this post. That said, if a lighter color and a darker color both would complement your home’s look, the energy savings of the lighter choice can be an extra consideration in your decision.
As you are trying to pick a roof color, don’t forget to turn to your contractor for advice. An expert opinion from someone who likely has installed every shade of roof over the years often can steer you toward the color that makes the most sense for your home.
Which roof color do you think looks best on homes?