Metal Roofing Colors: Selecting the Best Color
Metal roofing offers a great variety of styles, materials, and colors. This guide focuses on color selection. — The item that every home owner can easily relate to. (Credit: www.roofingcalc.com/metal-roof-colors/)
Styles relate to the shape of the metal when installed on a roof, such as standing seam, or corrugated panels. Practically speaking, color considerations don’t matter to the style, though some styles will present slightly different colors and paint finishes.
Materials correlate with the type of metal, also called “substrate.” The popular choices for homes today are steel, aluminum, and copper. For the most part, we stick to steel and aluminum as the likely choice for most readers.
Our attention is on color. We’ll cover available options, general information on color, smart factors for selecting color and wrap up with some technical information dealing with the manufacturing of paint for metal roofs as it matters to the consumer (you).
Color choice may seem like a subjective decision, but our Guide presents (10) considerations that really shouldn’t be overlooked. There is an art and science that comes into play. Our goal is to make sure you are well versed in the considerations as well as related information.
Surprisingly, many people think of metal roofs as having limited color options. Perhaps they think the color matches the type of metal. Silver for steel, tin and aluminum; reddish-brown for copper; dark gray for lead. As if those are the extent of the color options.
With aluminum and steel, the options are a bit more than these few options. Actually, strike that. The options are limitless! The correct answer to: “what are the available color options for a metal roof?” All of them. All colors, hues and tints.
Instead of selecting among a few options, the homeowner actually has limitless options to choose from. In some ways, that may seem more daunting. The rest of the article will help simplify things. Well, at least until we get to the technical information.
Typical Color Samples from a Vendor
Contractors or metal roof vendors are highly likely to keep a limited amount of colors in stock. These are a mixture of popular choices as well as colors deemed best for metal roofs by manufacturers. If for any reason, none of their options appeal to you, there is always the possibility to order a custom-made color.
Obviously, this would come with an additional cost as the contractor or vendor has to purchase it as a unique item rather than something they can buy in bulk. There is also the issue of longer lead times, given the material has to be brought in.
Not so surprisingly, consumers tend to go with the colors that are in stock. These tend to vary from vendor to vendor. The hue changes slightly so as to provide a unique offering.
Some colors may be nearly identical between two vendors, but have a different name. All part of the marketing and positioning of vendors in the marketplace.
What you are unlikely to find from the specialty vendors (who stock metal roofing material specifically), is standard, or pure colors, also sometimes referred to as primary colors. While blue and red are present, the options in this set aren’t bright. Vendors tend to go with muted tones.
The reason: brighter / flashier colors are ones that tend to fade fairly quickly. As, color choice is mostly subjective, there is no reason to think of any color as off limits. Just understand that the pros understand color at a level that the average person may not be aware of.
General Info Regarding Colors For Residential Metal Roofing
Think of this section as the precursor to the more technical considerations. We do our best to not overwhelm you with the finer nuances that deal with understanding color for metal roofs, though some of this will help before getting to our Guide (next section).
Bare steel, sometimes known as Cor-Ten or Tru-Ten, is a choice of both material and color that is an exception to some general rules for color consideration. Homeowners who choose bare steel know the look they want. They also know it will fade to an entirely different color; going from its metallic hue to what is simply referred to as rust.
While all colors on a roof will eventually fade, none undergo the drastic change that comes from bare steel as the metal oxidizes with the air and changes appearance so significantly, over a 20 year period.
Most to all other modern metal roofs have color applied in a factory setting. These colors will inevitably fade to a different hue of the same color. How fast, and how much depends on factors that are noted in the last section of this article.
The reality of color selection is that the color choice is only part of the decision that is being made. But again, it is the one that most people can relate to, and is the focus for this article.
Colors added to metal in a factory, will “bake the colors onto the materials.” In the technical section, we’ll provide more detail on how this all works.
Another way color is applied to metal is by a contractor or even homeowner painting the metal roof after it has been installed. This is so atypical in today’s marketplace it is perhaps better left unsaid, except for the fact that at some point a roof’s color is going to fade and need a new coat.
All things considered, metal roofs are a top notch choice as a roofing material, but a plausible drawback is that the color coating is going to last less time than the metal itself. Some would say that’s a good thing.
A few things to keep in mind with color for metal roofs are these properties:
pigment; think color or hue.
resin; forms the desired appearance of the surface.
solvent; the liquid part of the paint, mostly evaporates as paint dries.
fading – which we’ve already mentioned a number of times. Fading relates to pigment and how it changes based on elements interacting with it (namely sun and moisture).
chalking – is the whitish appearance a metal roof may obtain over a period of time. This relates to resin and the chemical breakdown of that material.
This last point actually is a great time to mention Cool Roofs. This type of roof is gaining in popularity because of its energy efficiency. It is ideal for warmer climates, but not necessarily limited to particular regions. Though with the idea that darker roofs retain heat, that may be preferable in climates with colder months. Every color available at Ridgeline Metal is a Cool Roof color.
Asphalt (shingle) roofs will trap heat, which helps explain part of the reason for their popularity. Whereas metal, typically reflects heat.
With Cool Roofs, it both reflects heat and re-emits heat based on certain pigments used in the coating. So a term known as “emissivity” is used with regards to Cool Metal Roofs to measure the roof’s ability to shed absorbed heat.
But enough on the technical stuff. We’ll come back to that later. Now onto the main purpose for this article.
Color Selection Guide
Before we get going, we wish to emphasize that there is no inherently best color for a roof. Nor are we about to tell you the color options you should choose.
Our guide is a list of considerations. Factors to hopefully help you make smart decisions in selecting color. Without further adieu, here are the 10 C’s for Color Selection:
Coordinating color with the rest of the house – this is an artistic factor. It can be as simple as matching roof color with say predominant color of bricks on the sides of the home, or with window trim, doors, etc.
The art comes into play because a home with say all white siding, would possibly look awkward with a white roof as well. So, another consideration is to find the right balance of contrast between your roof and the rest of the house.
Include friends and family in your decision process to get their input. Who knows, perhaps a good friend has the knowledge on color coordination that you may not.
Curb Appeal – relates to how the home appears when viewed from the street. It takes into account nearby structures, which in residential areas means your nearest neighbors’ homes.
Curb appeal asks questions like – does the home (and roof) stand out too much and look out of place? Or does it look bland and not really distinguished from anything around it? No right answers here, just what you as a homeowner want.
What are you going for? To blend in, or to stand out? Neutral colors for a roof, such as tan, white and gray tend to blend well with neighboring homes. Darker colored roofs are generally considered bold, yet also make homes appear smaller. Curb appeal allows you to use the illusion that color provides in a way that you want. To make the statement you wish to make with your home.
Complementing color with the environment – this is also an art and depends a bit on the Curb Appeal factor, or what is it that is seen as near your roof? Is it trees? If so, keep in mind that trees tend to change color.
Is it blue sky, which of course can change colors and gets dark at night. Think of this consideration as part 2 of coordinating colors. Make sure you don’t overlook the entire environment your project is in, as you bring the roof’s color together.
Climate – can be a factor in determining colors. This tends to vary by regions. Colder climates generally have darker roofs while warmer climates tend to have lighter colored roofs. Chances are a contractor will suggest color options that are typical to your region.
Conformity – this somewhat combines curb appeal and the climate factor. Conformity relates to how roofs in your extended neighborhood tend to appear. Then the decision of blending in with the neighborhood or the non-conformist approach to be unique.
Again, no right choices here, though it is helpful to remember that neighbors tend to respect homes that achieve great color contrast without being overly bold. Depending on your neighborhood, there may also be limitations regarding the colors that are allowed by a governing body, such as a homeowner’s association.
Give your neighbors something to talk about with you, rather than something they might talk about behind your back. Or just make the color statement you wish to make.
Cost – can’t forget this factor. If the colored roof is in stock from your vendor, then cost will likely be the same for all those that they readily provide samples for. However, if you desire a custom color, then plan on the price going up, along with the lead time to get your roofing produced.
If it is a truly unique color, they’ll make it, but it could be a significant cost increase as they’ll possibly only make that color one time, for you and only you. But then again, you might be the only one in your area with that color.
Capacity – read as function (but function doesn’t start with a C). Capacity relates to what the roof is intended to do, if anything. Do you, the homeowner, desire the roof to reflect sunlight, absorb it, or even re-emit it, as a Cool Roof does? (Hey there’s a C concept!)
Capacity is likely a secondary concern for most consumers, but is an item of consideration because whatever color is selected the function will be intrinsic to the color.
Color Favoring – This has to be on the list as obvious way in which people do select color. It’s not the ideal approach, but is a possible criteria for color selection.
If you’ve always favored a particular color over another, chances are you’ll want that in a roof. If the factors above this are all being considered, hopefully your favorite color is not the sole determination for selecting your roof’s color. Then again, it may be.
Careful Attention – Winding things up now. While careful attention is inherent to all the above items (except for #8), this is an item that needs extra emphasis. If you look at enough samples and enough hue variations, it is easy to lose focus on what is at stake in the decision.
Color of a metal roof can easily be a decision you will live with for a generation, or most of your adult life. Careful attention means looking at color samples in more than one light. Not just indoors under fluorescent lighting, but outdoors under sunlight.
Even outdoors in darkness. Or outdoors in the shade. Color of a roof will change with elements that have everything to do with when it is perceived.
Caveat – one last item to consider is that a metal roof can change color at any time. You could have it repainted to an entirely new hue, should you not be satisfied with the one you started with.
You can’t readily do this with other roofing material. With metal it is an option. How soon you paint another color, if at all, is up to you. Just nice to realize this is an option when it comes to the color choice of a metal roof.
We covered a lot of ground here. Hopefully you are better informed about color options for metal roofing. Careful attention to Color Coordination along with Climate and Capacity considerations are the items we would emphasize as top considerations for selecting a metal roof’s color.
Remember, there is no limit to the color options available.
While cost is an obvious factor for any home improvement decision, it is not really a main consideration for color selection of a roof. Thanks for checking out our Guide and here’s hoping your selection process comes through with flying colors!