Roof color – the #1 consideration in choosing an exterior paint color

Overhead shot of large house with greenish roof
Here the green shutters tie this home to its greenish roof.

Did you ever see an otherwise beautiful home that just looked “off?” Often this is because the roof color and the exterior paint color clash.

Roof color matters when choosing an exterior paint color for your home.  Here’s why:

Your roof is a permanent fixture on your home’s exterior, so it’s essential to factor in your roof’s color and its undertones into your exterior color scheme.

Until you look carefully at the hues of your roof’s shingles, you may not even realize that your roof contains so many different colors. Choosing one or two of those undertones to blend well with your exterior paint color is crucial to a cohesive exterior look and great curb appeal.

 


Is your roof color warm or cool?

Start by determining if your asphalt roof has a warm or cool undertone. While we tend to think of gray as a cool color, there are many warm gray tones, so look at your roof carefully.

Look for colors and undertones in your asphalt roof’s shingles.

Gray roof shingles
Both of these roofs are gray, but the left has green undertones, and the right has plum flecks.

If you look closely, you can often see green, blue, rose, and even purple within the specks of your roof’s shingles. Use these specks and undertones to inform your decision on where to start with your paint color selection.

Once you’ve decided if the undertones are warm or cool, start with paint colors with those same undertones.

 

 


 

Different cedar roof colors
Each of these South Shore Cedar Roofs has weathered to different cedar colors.  This makes choosing an exterior paint color tricky.

Have a cedar roof?  Choose a neutral color:

While many wood-cedar shingled roofs on the South Shore start warm in tone when they’re first installed, they can then gray or weather to a cooler tone.  Consider choosing a neutral exterior color for your cedar roofed home to avoid having the paint color clash with your cedar roof as it weathers over time.

Neutral Colors are neither warm nor cool and result from combining two complementary colors from the color wheel (think about the brown that results from combining red and green).

Neutral paint colors for your exterior come in all shades of white, gray, brown, and black.  Our free in-home designer can help.

 

 


 

 

Gray metal roof
The light blue dormer helps “sweeten up” the industrial feeling of this home with a stark, solid gray metal roof.

Exterior paint colors for homes with metal roofs:

Because metal roofs are so durable, if you are replacing your roof with a metal roof, choose a roof color that you’ll like for years to come.  You can then choose an exterior paint color to match the coolness or the warmness of your metal roof color.

When replacing your roof with any type of roof, it’s best to replace the roof before painting.  This way, everything that affects the color of the roof (lighting, direction your home faces, etc.) can be considered when choosing an exterior paint color.

Also, because metal roofs tend to be solid in color (and not have the same variation and “colored flecks” as a standard asphalt roof), once the solid color metal roof is installed, many exterior paint colors can be easily eliminated just by looking at them.

 


Choosing an exterior color to match a roof with solar panels.

If you have solar panels installed on your roof, it’s important to consider the color tones in your solar panels when choosing an exterior paint color.

Solar panels tend to be dark and cool, so check your solar panels carefully before choosing a warm or cool exterior paint color.  For better curb appeal, some of our customers work with our free color consultant to choose exterior colors that help downplay the solar panels and shift your eyes to the beauty of their home’s architecture.

Dark brown barn with dark solar panels
The solar panels on this roof are practically invisible on this dark brown guest home on the South Shore.

Even the white paint you choose matters.

Even white paints come in warm and cool tones, so don’t rush your color selection by thinking, “I’m only painting my home white, so roof color shouldn’t matter” – it still does.

Consider warm white like Sherwin Williams’ Origami White if your roof is warmer. If your roof has cooler tones, look for exterior paint in a cooler white like Sherwin Williams’ Whitetail when selecting your final exterior white paint color.


To illustrate a roof’s impact on exterior paint color selection, let’s look at some examples:

Brick house
This Client balanced the color of the brick and tan siding with the undertones of their roof.  The paint color on the clapboards blends nicely with the brick and the roof.

 


Cedar roof on green home
Unfortunately, this cedar roof has weathered to a warm tone, while the siding on this home is a cool green. See how this looks “off?”  This homeowner would’ve been better off choosing a neutral color for their siding so that no matter how the cedar roof weathered, the roof and exterior paint color would look cohesive.

Gray house with dark roof
Nice use of an accent color to help balance the very dark, cool roof.

Roof and house
A cool gray exterior paint color would’ve suited this home better than this warm tan because the roof is cool and dark.

House with blue gray accents
Great use of accent colors to tie the gray-blue roof into this cohesive color scheme!

 


When your roof is old or just plain ugly, you can use bold paint colors to shift your attention downwards toward the more beautiful aspects of your house. This burgundy siding anchors this home and keeps you focus away from the roof.

 


Brown roof on seafoam green home
This green siding is cool, and the roof is warm. While the green is very pretty, the home would look nicer if the siding color was warmer to match the roof.

 

Green house with red accents
The small overhang on this roof has been nicely coordinated with the accent colors to look “part of the architecture.”