Asphalt Roofing and the Science of Color

Maintenance Solutions

An asphalt roofing system provides homeowners with years of protection from the elements as a result of its reliability, durability and longevity. Asphalt roofing offers unparalleled beauty and versatility, which allows homeowners to pick a variety of unique colors, styles and textures that can increase a home’s value and raise its curb appeal.

Today, four out of five homeowners in the U.S. choose asphalt roofing. For most homeowners, choosing a type of shingle roof is a once in a lifetime decision, so deciding on what color and style fits their personality and one which blends with the character of the neighborhood is an important one.

In a recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, 99% stated that a new roof contributes to the home’s overall appeal in the neighborhood, and 83% stated that a home with a more “stylish” roof is easier to sell. It’s a major investment and one that takes careful consideration and thought.

How do roofing manufacturers create different color shades and combinations, so that homeowners can choose what color works best for their home? The secret lies in the science of color. There are many important elements about the color selection process that a homeowner should understand, so that they can make the correct roofing choice for their home.

The Color Experts

Asphalt roofing manufacturers employ the use of color consultants to help them develop a variety of colors for their asphalt shingles. Color experts use current design trends and their knowledge of the housing marketplace to help manufacturers create beautiful color blends for their asphalt shingles. Consumers have literally hundreds of different color combinations to choose from.

Rather than having one flat, solid color—like most metal roofing—asphalt shingles use multiple colored granules in combination to achieve their colors.  Some color combinations are more blended—some are more intense.   Regardless, this spectrum of color allows asphalt shingles to have unique depth and dimension and gives homeowners the flexibility to change exterior colors without impacting the roof aesthetic.  Homeowners can take their color design cues by closely looking at a shingle or sample board.   

Asphalt shingles are manufactured with ceramic coated granules, which not only add UV protection, durability and longevity to an asphalt roofing system, but also create the unique, visual appeal for virtually any home design.

Granules are the source of color in asphalt shingles. Available in a wide palette of colors, granules provide roofing manufacturers great flexibility from which they can develop unique and distinctive designs to satisfy consumer preference.  

Granules are produced from highly-durable igneous rock, crushed and screened to provide a size distribution that helps extend the life of the shingle. The sized raw rock granules are coated with a clay silicate mixture to which pigments have been added to provide color.

The coated granules are then fired at high temperature to cure the coating into a highly-durable ceramic which locks in the pigments. Following firing, the granules are surface treated to help provide for improved long-term adhesion of the granule.

So what makes a great color shade for a roof, and what new and exciting design trends are taking over the housing landscape? Color experts and consultants discuss the following trends in asphalt roofing:

·    Architects and designers are increasingly making use of dark body colors on the exterior of homes and buildings. Instead of a beige color, consider darker roof colors that harmonize with deep blues, greens and browns for a quiet drama that adds stability.

·    There's a new trend towards deep, strong colors being used on the exterior of homes. When the body of the house color is strong, a neutral roof color will allow the body color to showcase a home.

·    Dark trim colors are a powerful way to frame a home. When using a dark trim, a roof color that matches or is a shade lighter than the trim color can produce an anchored, coordinated aesthetic.

·    If a home is made of brick or stone, match the color of the roof with the permanent fixtures on the exterior.

·    If you love the splash that red makes on the rooftop, remember that two dynamic colors are not better than one. Make sure the body color is calmer.

·    Two or more body colors combined, along with varied trim colors, are part of a growing trend seen around the country. Roof colors should be simple and neutral in these cases.

·    Combining trendy colors with conventional choices on a home's exterior ensures that the design will have balance and remain appealing for the life of the roof.

Your Neighborhood

While these are general guidelines to follow, the final color choice depends on the aesthetics that are sought for the particular home. Regional styles, neighborhood considerations and personal taste will all influence the final decision. That is why color consultants are used by the manufacturers – so that no matter what a homeowner is looking for, they have a variety of options to choose from that will enhance the value of the home.

Homeowners should ask a contractor to provide the different color choices that are available, and take advantage of online or visualization design tools that illustrate what a new asphalt roof would look like on their home. Manufacturers can also give color sample boards so that they can be put against their current building materials.

Brent Gibson of Brent Gibson Custom Home Design in Edmond, OK says, “The biggest mistake people make in choosing a roof is being afraid of color. Roof color helps distinguish your home from every other home in your neighborhood.”

Gibson, who won an honorable mention in 2013 from the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association’s (ARMA) Quality Asphalt Roofing Case-Study (QARC) Awards Program counsels homeowners to use the color wheel to select compatible colors for their roof and exterior finishes.

“Most importantly, remember that color has emotional appeal; choose a color that makes you feel good when you pull into your driveway,” said Gibson.

The color of your roof adds value to your home and contributes to the lasting aesthetic impact of the community. It is the first thing anyone sees when they drive through the neighborhood, and the last thing a homeowner sees every time they pull in and out of the driveway. Choosing the right color roof should be fun.  It should help highlight the overall exterior of your home and keep you smiling for a long time.

To learn more about asphalt shingles, visit ARMA’s website at www.asphaltroofing.org.