The Best Colors for a Roof

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Landscaping, siding colors and trim all combine to create colorful curb appeal for your house. But the roof tops it all -- a great expanse of color that asserts itself from every angle. Select the right shade for your roof with the neighborhood -- and your energy bill -- in mind.

Start With Style

Different historical periods and housing styles need a custom approach to roof color selection. Within limits, you still have a wide range of roof color choices. A Spanish colonial home with a barrel tile roof could be deep red terra cotta, but it might be pumpkin-orange or a variegated mix of reds, browns, creams, grays and oranges. In New Orleans, iconic Creole cottages and townhouses with their steeply gabled roofs and mansard details are often brightly colored. Their roof colors, which are highly visible, tend toward the subdued, to offset vivid trims, shutters, front doors and sidings.

Research the history of your house to find authentic roof colors for its architecture and time. Drive around the neighborhood, looking at local roof color choices. And know your local ordinances and homeowner community guides. Some developments and municipalities dictate a strict palette of shingle, tile and metal colors for the roof, limiting individual choices.

Rainbow Roof

It's not all black and white. A roof lasts for 20 years, maybe more. Consider available colors in modern and classic roof coverings to enhance your home's value and to create something you want to head home to everyday. Wood shakes come in wood tones and a wide range of stained colors from both the warm and cool color spectrums. Shingles shaded in multicolors let you pick up a roof color to paint the whole house -- and pick a different color when you decide it's time for an update and a new look. Tin or metal roofs come in barn red for white stucco homes, tobacco brown over cream stucco. Charcoal gray metal mansard roofs look like wet slate in the rain. Patina green over old brick resembles verdigris and adds to the timeless sense of the siding material and architecture. A bright or muted blue rubber roof topping a classic saltbox complements soft yellow cedar siding, whether it's sealed to preserve its blonde beauty or allowed to weather into silvery gray.

Feng Shui the Roof

A roof is more than just a roof when it's an active participant in creating good energy for your home. Color counts in the ancient Asian art of property alignment and decor details. Aim for visible harmony between roof and house colors -- the roof comes first when you can change the siding color, second when the house is made of permanent brick or stone. A green roof is a magnet for health and wealth and represents earth energies. Browns, clay-colored terra-cotta and chocolate slate protect the home and its occupants. Red is a fire element, so use muted tones to control its power and lower red's heat -- bronze, purplish and brownish reds like burgundies or burnt sienna, or deep pigeon's blood ruby are strong but safe. Blue, black and gray are water element colors and encourage free-flowing positive energy that enhances wealth and opportunity.

Green Roofs, All Colors

Green your roof with solar panels that cover the shingle, tile or slate color as they lower the temperature on your energy bill. Work with your climate -- a dark roof absorbs the sun's heat; a white roof reflects it back. Use roof color to balance nature's extremes. Or plant the roof and go entirely green. A green roof provides good insulation for the entire house, absorbs rainfall and significantly lowers storm runoff. The planted roofs filter air and rainwater, create favorable micro-climates in dense urban areas and may even supply a garden -- with seasonal produce and annual flowers that support migrating birds and threatened species of butterflies and bees.

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