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Should the roof be darker or lighter than the house?

When choosing a roof color for your home, one of the most important considerations is how the roof color will look in relation to the color of the house siding. The roof and siding work together to create the overall look and feel of the home’s exterior. There are arguments on both sides regarding whether the roof should be darker or lighter than the house. In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of dark vs. light roofs and help you decide which option is best for your home.

Pros of a Darker Roof

There are several potential benefits to choosing a roof color that is darker than the house siding:

Enhanced Curb Appeal

A darker roof can create an appealing, classic look. The high contrast between a dark roof and lighter siding helps the roof stand out more. This can be especially helpful for homes with more subdued or neutral-colored siding, creating needed visual interest on the exterior.

Blends With Landscaping

Dark roofs tend to complement landscaping and blend in with the surroundings, especially if you have mature trees around your home. The dark color mimics the tones found in bark, leaves, shrubs and soil. A lighter roof would stand out more and look disjointed.

Matches Trim

For homes with dark shutters, doors, porches and other trim features, a darker roof helps unify the look cohesively. Matching roof and trim hues makes the color scheme feel more natural and seamless.

Provides Contrast on Light-Colored Homes

On homes with very light-colored siding such as white, cream, pale yellow or light gray, a dark roof can provide necessary contrast and visual weight to balance out the exterior colors. Too little contrast can make a home look washed out.

Stays Cooler

Darker roofing materials absorb less heat from sunlight than lighter ones, helping to reduce cooling costs in hot climates. Black, gray and deep brown roofs reflect less light, keeping attics and interiors cooler.

Conceals Dirt and Stains

Over time, roofing materials are subject to some dirt buildup, moss growth, leaf debris and other potential stains. A darker roof color helps conceal these types of problems better than a light roof would. Less visibility of roof stains means less cleaning needed.

Cons of a Darker Roof

However, there are some downsides to weigh regarding dark roof choices:

Can Look Heavy or Dominant

On smaller homes or more colorful houses, a very dark roof may seem overly dominant and heavy visually. It can draw the eye upward too much, overpowering other exterior elements.

Absorbs More Heat

In warmer climates, the heat absorption of dark roofs can be a disadvantage, transferring more warmth into the attic and interior rooms. This can mean higher air conditioning bills in summer.

Shows Dirt Sooner

While dark roofs hide stains better than light roofs, they conversely tend to show dry dirt, dust and debris sooner. Light-colored dirt stands out obviously on a black roof. This means needing roof cleanings more frequently.

Can Look Dated

Some dark roof colors like black may lend a dated, old-fashioned look to some home styles. For modern or contemporary homes, darker roofs can seem out of sync style-wise.

Less Reflectivity

Lighter roofs reflect more sunlight, resulting in less heat transfer to the home and more reflected light that brightens up exteriors. Dark roofs absorb light more, causing darker exteriors.

Pros of a Lighter Roof

There are also advantages to choosing a lighter roof color compared to the house siding:

Appears Larger

Light roof colors make a home look larger overall. Dark colors seem to shrink down mass, whereas lighter hues expand it. Light roofs can suit smaller homes that need a boost in perceived size.

Looks Clean and Fresh

White, off-white, light beige and other pale roofs have a crisp, new appearance that connotes care and upkeep. Even years later, light roofs maintain a bright, well-maintained look.

Matches Exteriors

For homes with lighter exterior colors, matching the roof to a similar hue (though not identical) creates a cohesive, uniform effect. Seamless color coordination looks very appealing.

Stays Cooler

In hot climates, light roof colors like white better reflect heat from the sun, keeping attic and interior temperatures cooler to reduce air conditioning costs.

Brightens Landscaping

The reflective quality of lighter roofs casts more light onto landscaping and exteriors below. This can illuminate and highlight plantings, flowers and architectural details.

Contemporary Style

For modern, cutting-edge homes, lighter roofs often suit the sleek, contemporary aesthetic better than dark roofs that can seem dated. Crisp white roofs, for example, feel very fresh and current.

Cons of a Lighter Roof

However, lighter roof choices also come with some disadvantages:

Can Look Dirty

Even minor buildup of dirt, stains and debris will likely show up more on a lighter roof. Frequent cleaning is required to maintain the bright look.

Can Look Cheap

Extremely light roofs, especially white, can seem basic and cheap if not done elegantly. Upscale materials and design elements are needed to elevate the look.

May Not Complement Trim

Homes with darker trim elements like shutters and doors often look best with a roof that matches those deeper hues. A light roof might clash.

Less Contrast

On homes with lighter exteriors, choosing an equally light roof color reduces contrast on the house. This can look washed out and dated.

Can Glare in Eyes

The reflective qualities of light roofs in sunny climates can cause glaring. This can make a home uncomfortably bright to look at or even damage eyes temporarily.

Can Cause Snow/Ice Buildup

In cold climates, light-colored roofs often result in more built up snow and ice loads in winter. The lighter color absorbs less warmth from sun exposure.

Factors to Consider

When deciding between a darker or lighter roof for your home, keep these key factors in mind:

House Color

Evaluate how much contrast you want between roof and siding hues. For a bolder, classic look go darker. For a more uniform look, stay closer in tone.

Roof Pitch

Steeper roofs look better in darker colors that minimize the pitch’s prominence. Low-slope roofs suit lighter hues.

House Style

Formal, traditional home styles often suit darker roofs best. Contemporary designs usually look better with lighter roof colors.


In hotter regions, lighter roofs help reduce cooling costs. In colder areas, darker roofs absorb more heat from sunlight.

Size of Home

Smaller homes can be overwhelmed by too-dark roofs. Larger houses can more easily balance a very dark roof color.


Lighter roofs illuminate plantings while darker roofs recede and blend better with lush backdrops.

Roof Materials

Consider how color options complement your chosen roofing product, whether asphalt, tile, metal or other.

Popular Roof Color Pairings

Here are some of the most popular and attractive roof and siding color combinations to consider:

Roof Color House Color
Black White or light gray
Dark brown Beige or tan
Dark green Sage green or olive
Dark red Brick red or terra cotta
Dark gray Charcoal gray
White Pastel blue
Light gray Pale yellow or periwinkle
Beige Khaki or light taupe


The choice between a dark or light roof ultimately comes down to personal preference, architectural style and the desired overall aesthetic for your home’s exterior. For many homes, the best approach is to strike a balance: choose a roof color that has sufficient contrast from the siding to add interest but not so much contrast that it looks mismatched or jarring. Take into account important factors like house size, style, climate and more to select roof hues that complement your home’s unique look and needs. With the right shade that works in harmony with your siding color, you can give your home exterior a cohesive, attractive look.