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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The reflective quality of lighter roofs casts more light onto landscaping and exteriors below. This can illuminate and highlight plantings, flowers and architectural details.
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.
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:
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.
Steeper roofs look better in darker colors that minimize the pitch’s prominence. Low-slope roofs suit lighter hues.
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.
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:
|White or light gray
|Beige or tan
|Sage green or olive
|Brick red or terra cotta
|Pale yellow or periwinkle
|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.