How to Choose a Shingle Color for Your House: 10 Tips to Know

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Are you preparing to replace an existing roof or install a new one? In either case, even the most intricate design choices matter.

Any time you alter the exterior of your home, your preferences are on full display for the entire neighborhood to notice. From your trim paint to your front door hardware, the decisions you make can have a direct effect on your home’s aesthetic, curb appeal, and even property value.

One of the most challenging, yet important, steps to navigate? Deciding how to choose a shingle color for your house!

With so many options on the market today, it’s all too easy to get analysis paralysis. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the different hues, read on. Today, we’re sharing 10 tips to keep in mind as you shop for the perfect shingles to put the finishing touch on your roofing project.

Why Does Shingle Color Matter?

Before we dive into the ins and outs of choosing the best color, let’s answer one common question: Aren’t all roofing shingles created the same? Does color really make a difference?

The short answer is “absolutely” and here are a few reasons why.

Showing Dirt

As you might expect, lighter-colored shingles tend to show more dirt, grime and general debris than their darker-toned counterparts. In addition, certain types can show their age quicker than dark alternatives.

Solar Absorbency

Are you seeking to make your home more energy efficient? Doing so can help you lower your utility bill and reduce your carbon footprint.

Some research suggests that the color of shingles you select can play a role in helping you reach this goal. One study reveals that black shingles have a solar absorbency rate of 97%, while light shingles have a rate of 76%.

At peak temperatures, this means that black shingles will feel approximately 20% hotter than light ones. If you’re in a colder climate, this can be an advantage. It can even help you save on heating costs during the winter.

Yet, if you live in a warm climate, light or white shingles can reflect that heat better than dark shingles can. This helps your home conserve valuable cooling energy. To amplify this effect, couple your new shingles with a sealed attic, as well as an insulated roof deck.

The Design Theme of Your Home

Did you build your home to fit a certain style? What about a particular time period, such as the Victorian Era? If so, the shingle colors you choose should complement this theme and tie into the overall look.

This might mean researching homes in a similar style to understand the colors that were available when your style of home first debuted. For instance, if your home was built in the Craftsman style, these colors are on-trend!

How to Choose a Shingle Color for Your House: The Tips to Learn

Now that you understand why choosing the shingle color is so important, let’s review a few key steps to take and questions to ask to guide you toward the right decision.

1. Get a Sample

Years ago, you would walk into your local hardware store, browse the handful of shingle options available, and try to make the best decision based on the few choices that were presented to you.

Now, there are more kinds of shingles than ever before! Along with different colors, there are also different materials used to construct your roof, including:

  • 3-tab asphalt shingles
  • Architectural shingles
  • Metal shingles
  • Wood shingles
  • Slate shingles
  • Solar shingles

Looking at this variety alone, it’s easy to see why it’s difficult to make a quick decision. That’s why most roofing contractors will encourage you to take a few shingle samples home before you buy.

Think about it: Before you paint any room in your home, you usually buy a small can and test it out on the walls first, right? This is the same concept, only on a larger scale. Hold your sample up to your exterior and see if it complements the finishes and meets your expectations.

For best results, conduct these tests in different lighting conditions. The way the sunrise hits your roof first thing in the morning might make your shingles look different than they do at golden hour before sunset. Your roof is a major investment, and you want to make sure you love the way it looks in any light!

2. Consider Your Home’s Architectural Style

As mentioned, certain colors go best with certain time periods, as well as specific architectural styles.

For example, if you’re restoring a stately colonial home, the just-released Pantone Color of the Year might not be of great interest to you, and for good reason. Instead, you’ll direct your search toward period-friendly colors that will look right at home on your roof, such as slate gray.

At the same time, an ultra-modern home can look out of place with shingles that are best-suited for rustic or cottage-style homes, such as light brown weathered wood varieties.

If you’re stuck, reach out to your roofing contractor for ideas. You can also drive around local neighborhoods to find homes built in a similar style as yours. Which colors did they go with and how would they look on your new roof?

3. Draw Inspiration From Your Surroundings

Do you live in the middle of the woods? If so, your home is likely surrounded by towering trees filled with different tones of brown, red, green and yellow.

If you live in the city or a busy neighborhood, you might be surrounded by light gray asphalt or towering buildings. Rural dwellers might have rolling fields and long stretches of blue sky around their home.

Regardless of the scenery outside your window, consider incorporating it into the color of your shingles. This way, your home can feel like a natural extension of your surroundings, blending in beautifully.

For instance, homes in the woods look great with light brown shingles, while those in the country can incorporate more green and blue tones. Likewise, urban houses shine with jet black asphalt shingles. The idea is to pull inspiration from these elements as your home sits beautifully amongst it all.

While your roof doesn’t need to blend seamlessly with your property setting, this is a fun way to draw inspiration and help narrow your choices down to just a few.

4. Factor In Your House Color

In addition to paying close attention to your home’s architectural style, it’s also important to make sure the shingle color you choose looks great against the colors that are already on your exterior.

If you have vinyl siding, what color is it? Do you have red, whitewashed or completely white brick? What about your shutters and the trim around your front door or window?

All of these elements will be viewed at the same time as your shingles. There are certain colors that pair well, while others don’t play together as nicely. Some standard, go-to combinations include:

  • Red siding or brick exterior: Dark brown, gray, black or green shingles
  • Beige or cream exterior: Brown, gray, black, blue or green shingles
  • Gray exterior: White, black, blue, green or gray shingles
  • Brown exterior: Blue, green, brown or gray shingles

Of course, this list is far from exhaustive. Take the time to brainstorm which colors you prefer against your trim and finishes that are already in place. You might find that you love an offbeat combination over these more traditional options.

One rule to keep in mind? Aim to establish at least a little contrast. Installing brick-red shingles on a red brick house can feel flat and boring, while gray or green shingles can give the home an instant facelift.

When in doubt, stick to a shingle color that is darker than the body of your house.

Usually, this will create a clean contrast that grounds the home. The only exception would be a house with very dark siding or one that has more roof surface than siding or brick. In both cases, a lighter roof will provide a refreshing contrast.

5. Look at Color Blends

Not sold on one particular color? Consider opting for a blend of colors. Most shingle manufacturers produce asphalt shingle lines in both solids and blends.

Most of the time, these lines will include the word “Blend” in their name, though this isn’t always the case. The sample you select should include details on the different colors used. In addition, you should be able to see all of the colors by looking at the sample provided.

Usually, these blends will feature two to three slightly different shades that all belong to the same color family. For instance, medium and light brown tones might be interspersed with hints of rust. Or, light and dark gray might blend together to create a uniform appearance.

Besides variety, another benefit of choosing a color blend is that these shingles often appear to have more depth and texture than single-colored shingles. This can help your roof stand out from the others on your block and appear more stately. For this reason, they look great and deliver an impressive contrast against simple, plain siding.

For instance, consider the look you’d create by installing a solid black asphalt roof on a home that has dark gray siding. The overall appearance would lack personality and dimension, as the two colors are too closely matched. However, a blended shingle featuring a light gray base with different shades of black and green mixed in would look visually stunning on the same house.

The other side to consider? If your exterior is already variated, a color-blended shingle can look too busy on top. For instance, brick or stone homes often look best with a classic black asphalt roof. This allows the intricate stonework to take center stage and doesn’t leave one finish competing with the next.

6. Look at the Pitch of Your Roof

We’ve all seen houses that appear to be “all roof”. When this effect occurs, it can create a lack of balance in the home’s exterior design.

Start by understanding which colors cause your roof to stand out, and which ones have a diminishing effect. In general, darker colored shingles tend to stand out more than lighter ones.

Keeping this in mind, take a look at the shape and slope of your roof.

Is it the dominant feature of your home, commanding attention at every angle? Tall, steeply-pitched roofs on cabins or single-story, cottage-style homes tend to look this way, as do hip roofs.

If this applies to your house, the exterior can easily become unbalanced if you cover this area in a dark, black asphalt shingle. Instead, stick with a lighter shingle to detract from the roof a little and help the rest of the home’s architectural features stand out.

The only exception would be if you were installing light-colored dormers and you wanted them to “pop” against your roof. Medium and dark colors work best here, as they draw the eye to your dormers and away from your roof itself.

Conversely, is your home a multi-story model where the roof tends to get lost among the curves and lines of varying heights? If so, you might prefer a darker shingle to help give the roof more substance.

7. Drive Your Neighborhood

You want your roof to stand out, but not for the wrong reasons.

While a little personality is a great addition to any home, it’s best to make sure that your exterior is in line with all of the other homes in your neighborhood.

This way, if you ever decide to sell your house, there won’t be any eye-catching features that can take away from your asking price. To get a feel of the colors you should stick with, take the time to drive around your entire neighborhood.

As you do, take note of the colors or color blends that most nearby homeowners are using. This is especially important if you live very close to another home, where passersby can see your colors in the same line of sight as the property beside yours.

In most cases, you’ll find that dark, traditional colors are the most common option within established neighborhoods. This helps to give all of the homes the same general aesthetic. On the other hand, homes that aren’t tied to a neighborhood are a little freer to make their own colorful choices.

While you’re considering what your neighbors might think, there’s another important step to take. Contact your Homeowner’s Association (HOA) to see if there are any restrictions you need to follow when installing your new roof.

Some HOAs will give you full creative reign over the project. Then, there are others that are more strict. They will give you a few basic colors to choose from and will restrict bright blends.

While it might be tempting to disobey and install a dark red roof where your bylaws exclusively say grays and browns only, consider the implications of doing so. You don’t want to wind up in court over a blatant disregard for the rules.

8. Remember Your Landscaping

Your home’s siding or brick aren’t the only materials you’ll see when you pull into your driveway.

In addition, there might also be fixed landscaping elements, such as a water feature, fire pit or a stone patio. Remember to take these elements into an account as you choose the shingle color you want.

You can’t exactly dig these up and move them. Nor can you simply saturate them with a new color, as you can with your vinyl siding. With the latter, if you decide that your siding doesn’t flow well with your roof shingles, you can always repaint over it with a more favorable, coordinating hue.

Think about the color you want to see when you’re spending time outside or lounging in your backyard. The shingle color you select should complement or contrast beautifully with your surroundings.

9. Try a Visualization Tool

Another way you can try out your shingles before you buy them? Many manufacturers will have visualization tools on their websites. These take the guesswork out of the shopping process and allow you to see your favorite colors in a more practical light.

Once you’ve narrowed your short list down to around five possibilities, hop online and see if those manufacturers have such a tool available.

Usually, you can upload your own picture of your house and in a few clicks, you can see how your house would look with the given selection. Or, you can use one of their pre-loaded home pictures, choosing a style and size that’s similar to yours.

In addition to tweaking the color of your shingles, these tools will also allow you to see how different shingle materials would look on your home. This is one of the most important and substantial purchases you’ll ever make in your life, so it’s critical to get it right.

Be sure to use an image of your home in natural, full light. Otherwise, the effects you see might not translate accurately in real life.

10. Learn the Psychological Effects of Colors

Did you know that blue is an especially relaxing and calming color? At the same time, red evokes feelings of love and comfort, though it can sometimes come across as aggressive.

There is an entire field of study dedicated to the psychology of colors. While the research is vast, it’s worth taking the time to understand the underlying feelings and emotions associated with your top color picks.

To find the perfect shade for your shingles, think about the mood and vibe that you want your home to evoke. Then, use those answers to find a color that can help it get there.

For instance, are you trying to turn your property into a peaceful oasis? Or, do you want it to feel more modern and energetic?

There is no right or wrong answer, but you should be able to articulate the image you want to project. From there, you can start shopping for paint colors that make you feel the same way!

Not sure where to begin? Green hues bring to mind nature and peaceful tranquility, making them ideal for homes in wooded areas.  Meanwhile, brown is grounding and can feel earthy and solid.

While you might not have access to every color of the rainbow when selecting your shingles, you can look for ones in the same general color family to create a similar look and feel.

The Roof of Your Dreams, One Shingle at a Time

Once they’re up, you’ll be glad you took the time to get your shingle selection just right.

When considering how to choose a shingle color for your house, it’s wise to keep your personal preferences top of mind. While design trends will come and go, your gut feelings are there to stay. In addition, it’s also best to look beyond the physical structure of your home and take all of your surrounding finishes and landscapes into account.

Are you looking for a premier Boise team to install your roof? If so, you came to the right place.

We’re the area’s go-to resource for premium-quality roofing solutions, serving both residential and commercial customers. From a new roof to roof repairs, emergency leak solutions, gutter installations and more, we do it all.

Feel free to review some more of our services to learn more about what we provide. To schedule your free inspection, contact us today.