9 essential tips for picking a metal roof color

Image source: Restoration Builders

Jack Wisniewski

By Jack Wisniewski

April 6, 2021

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Metal roofing proponents, us included, tend to highlight that you can pick from just about every shade imaginable.

For metal roofing shoppers, however, it can come as a blessing and a curse. The massive selection of options makes finding that one perfect metal roof color to maximize your home's curb appeal seem impossible.

Recognizing which colors harmonize with your home's existing palette, architectural theme, and surrounding environment can help guide you towards the most appealing options with confidence.

Beyond finding the most aesthetically pleasing tones, you may also want to consider the more practical aspects of picking a metal roof color, like costs, energy efficiency, and available paint systems, to name a few.

Fortunately, we at Roofing Calculator have identified which factors should impact your decision with nine straightforward tips.

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Tip #1: use your home's existing colors

Colorful residential home

The fastest way to shrink your list of metal roof color options is to identify which ones work better on your home, visually speaking.

By “work better,” we mean choices that likely maintain, if not enhance, your home’s current charm.

Get an estimate for new metal roofing.

What is the best color for a metal roof?

Primary color wheel

It depends.

Without diving too deep into complex color theory, you want to achieve what designers call color harmony – an attractive balance of tones.

You can strike a balance in several ways with any given color.

Color wheel graphic with arrows pointing at red and green across the color wheel, illustrating that they are opposites

For example, red directly opposes green on the color wheel. The stark contrast between red and green can seem jarring in some circumstances. Yet, color theory suggests that they “logically” cancel each other out and therefore spur balance!

We can apply the same logic to blue and orange, black and white, and warm and cool tones. Although all of these pairs represent polar opposites, they create color balance.

Red and blue, on the other hand, do not harmonize. Following color theory, red and blue lead to a visual imbalance when used exclusively with each other.

Will people automatically find your home intolerable because you defied color theory when picking your metal roof?

No. Your home’s architectural style and geographic location dictate different color options, which we explain in the following sections.

However, color theory arguably transcends these factors. Designers use it in everything, not just roofing!

Therefore, we hold it takes priority in finding you a metal roof color.

How do I choose a metal roof color for my house?

To figure out the possible harmonious color schemes, take note of the exterior colors of the features on and around your house, including, but not limited to:

  • Siding
  • Doors
  • Gutters
  • Trim
  • Fascia
  • Fences
  • Railings
  • Landscaping

Unless you plan on commencing brand new construction, your home should already have some dominance towards one color.

From there, you can assess which metal roof color synchronizes best with your home.

I see only neutral colors – blacks, whites, grays, and browns

White residential home with a black roof

Image source: ThoughtCo

Neutral tones complement everything, so don't rule out any metal roof color choices just yet.

I notice dominant chromatic colors, such as red, blue, or yellow

Blue residential home with a gray roof

Image source: New York Times

Again, a neutral-colored metal roof provides a safe option. Blacks, browns, and grays would not disturb color harmony one way or the other.

Homeowners on a mission to attain a sophisticated balance can defer to our elementary color combinations table, though it does not include every method to approach color harmony.

For a truly personalized consultation, input your home's color into an online color calculator like this one to pinpoint custom harmonious combinations.

An important note on making color harmony work in the real world: only one color should dominate, as in be the focus. If one color is vibrant, the others should be muted.

Dominant house color Monochrome Complimentary combination Analogous combination
Red Red Green Red-orange + Red-purple
Blue Blue Orange Blue-green + Blue-purple
Yellow Yellow Purple Yellow-green + Yellow-orange
Green Green Red Blue-green + Yellow-green
Orange Orange Blue Red-orange + Yellow-orange
Purple Purple Yellow Red-purple + Blue-purple

Tip #2: follow your architectural style

Mediterranean architectural home

Image source: One Kind Design

Some types of architecture evoke particular colors.

When picturing a Spanish-style home, for instance, it likely dons a trademark terra cotta tile roof. An orange metal roof would look right at home in this case as it stays true to architectural heritage.

Barn building All-white residential home

Image sources: Creative Building Supply & Owensboro Living

Barn-style homes offer similarly distinct color options. To be precise, both the industrial impression of raw corrugated galvalume and pure white flatter the farmhouse style.

Curious to know if your home has an innate color scheme? Check out our non-inclusive list of color pairings for popular types of architecture.

Architectural style Best metal roof colors
Modern Matte black, gray
Ranch Gray, brown, white
Farmhouse Metallic, red, white
Spanish Red, orange
Victorian Gray, copper, patina
Craftsman Gray, copper, blue
Cape Cod Brown, gray

Tip #3: refer to geography

Log cabin home

Image source: Cozy Cabins

Natural surroundings provide a vital source of inspiration for compatible metal roof colors.

For example, a home in the forest would blend seamlessly with dark bronze or green to match the color palette of neighboring trees.

We listed a few suitable tones for three prototypical environments.

Geographic location Best metal roof colors
Mountains and forest Earth tones – green, bronze, gray
Tropical Bright tones – green, metallic, copper
Desert and plains Warm, earth tones – terra cotta, bronze, gray

Tip #4: consider your neighborhood

Suburban neighborhood

Image source: Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group

The appeal of a new metal roof can largely depend on how it compares to the rest of the neighborhood!

If everyone has a dark color for their roof, a light-color metal roof will certainly stand out.

Tip #5: Check with your homeowner's association

Homeowner's Association handbook

If a homeowner's association governs your neighborhood, you likely need to seek approval before embarking on an exterior renovation as substantial as a new roof.

The last thing you want is to install your shiny new metal roofing system only for your HOA to say you need to redo it because they did not receive a request, even if you technically comply with regulations.

HOAs differ in rules and approval processes. Generally, you should contact them with details regarding the timeline, the installer, and pictures of the project.

Tip #6: review your energy-efficiency needs

Graphic illustrating how a metal roof absorbs heat

When compared to asphalt shingles, metal roofing in the right color and with the right installation can save you up to 25 percent in energy costs.

Homeowners striving towards this impressive figure should look for colors with a higher Solar Reflectance Index, or SRI, which measures how well the roof rejects the sun's heat.

Intuitively, lighter, more reflective colors deliver superior SRI values. Darker colors absorb heat and therefore lower SRI ratings.

You can get an idea of the potential SRI numbers of over 90 metal roof colors with this list.

For an assured "cool roof", search for Energy Star or LEED-certified roofing products.

Installing a qualified energy-efficient metal roof can also earn you tax credits.

Tip #7: understand the difference between PVDF and SMP paint

On top of the color itself, the paint performance, costs, and warranties may impact your decision.

Metal roofing manufacturers typically offer two types of paint finishes: SMP and PVDF (also called Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000).

SMP vs. PVDF metal roof paint

SMP

For those on a tight budget, choose SMP metal roof paint.

This option generally limits you to neutral, lighter colors to minimize the visual impact of chalking and fading – common problems with metal roofing. If you find a color you like and feel prepared to stomach a washed-out roof in just a few years, SMP makes plenty of financial sense.

PVDF

Should you seek a unique, bright, enduring metal roof color, look no further than PVDF paint.

This premium metal roof paint offers more colors and delivers a consistent sheen far longer than SMP coated metal, although it costs between 15 and 35 percent more. If you plan on choosing a roofing material as durable as a standing seam metal roof, for instance, a long-lasting paint system such as PVDF makes more sense.

Tip #8: standard colors mean savings

Sample metal color chart

Sample metal color chart. Image source: Drexmet

Not all colors are created equal, especially when it comes to costs.

Custom colors – that is, color blends you request – will cost more than any of the standard options you find in a brochure.

Unless you desperately need an extraordinarily novel tone, stick to the standard color palette.

Tip #9: request samples before you buy

Sample metal color shingles

Image source: American Coatings Association

Metal roof colors: in summary

Picking one color out of hundreds is never easy.

Hopefully, our tips on how to find a color that your home's curb appeal based on color theory, architecture, and surrounding environment point you in the right direction.

You may also want to consider which paints comply with your HOA, net energy savings, and meet your performance needs.

After conducting all of the recommended due diligence, confirm your selection with your own eyes by requesting color samples from manufacturers!

Get in touch with local contractors today.

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