Metal Roofs

Metal Roofs Have Unique Qualities 

Trending today are metal roofs for residential homes. But I can hardly say they will be remain a trend moving forward, because these roofs mostly hold a 50 year life. We will be looking at these for quite sometime to come and they will become the standard, not the trend.

These durable roofs make a lot of sense. Apart from their longevity, they are highly practical in parts of the country which get a good deal of snow. In the province of Quebec, Canada, you will see many homes with steeply pitched roofs made of metal...mostly red!

red metal roofs

We already have a page dedicated to roof color so why then would I write another?

Metal roofs present their own challenges

If you look at a standard roof shingle, you will see that it is made of many “beads”, most of them being a variety of colors and tones which combine to form an overall color…the exception being a dead flat black roof where it is entirely uniform.

shingle surface

asphalt shingle surfaces showing multi-colored beads

In general I would say that the colors for metal roofs are of a higher intensity, that is, they tend to be more pure and not as subtle as standard asphalt shingles. This makes a metal roof a major color field on a house in a way that a standard shingle roof is not.

metal roofs colors

Common modern metal roof color palette selection

Metal roofs are bolder in presentation

Color on a metal roof is uniform throughout, The surface of a metal roof is level and smooth so when light hits it, it is reflected off in the same angle…translation…it is a reflective surface where you may get specular bright spots. Think of a standard asphalt shingle with its beaded surface like an English muffin with all its “nooks and crannies”. The irregular surface of the asphalt shingle causes light waves to bounce off at varying angles. This creates a matte surface so the color is diffused and soft. This might not seem like a big deal but over the large surface area of a roof, this effect becomes multiplied and significant.

Even if you choose a metal roof in a more quiet color such as soft brown or gray, it’s still a large block of solid color on your house. Usually the body color of a house is the largest and most important focus of color on a home. It shifts the balance of the elements in an unorthodox way. We are not used to seeing the roof being a major player when we think about our home design.

Metal roofs create the exception...

Enters the metal roof…when we choose elements of design be they for interior of exterior, they are not all created equal. We see items in a hierarchy so that the rug you thought was so important is not so much because it is on a plane below your line of sight. Where items are placed and the quantity in which they appear determines how important a player they are to the entire package. This is theory and application in design and it’s very important to factor in when making choices about balance.

The facade of a house has lots of broken surface area. It is interrupted by doors, windows, and shutters. The metal roof is a giant unifying cap upon all of this. If I were outfitting a house with such a roof, I would err on the side of light and neutral paint color. Let the roof be the color boss. By its uniform and bold character, and by its position on the building, it is inevitable for it to become a major player. Once the roof is in place, provide an accent in an even bolder color at the front door to get your eye to look at the house proper, and not just the roof.

Metal roof colors and safe body color

Focus on whites, putty colors (warm greiges). Choose the undertone depending upon the roof color…warm with warm, cool with cool. Be careful though to really look at the roof color. Don’t make the mistake of letting the name of the color define its undertone. For instance, it’s blue…people will say that blue is a cool color but that is a blanket statement, blues can lean towards the warmer side so use your eyes and not your brain! Remember also when choosing a white or off-white, go a tad darker than you think you might like. Colors get lighter over a larger field and the nature of outdoor light is brighter by 10X what you will encounter inside your home or in the paint store. The bold color of the roof will guaranteed make that off-white or putty color look convincingly like a brighter white than it really is. The metal roof is calling all the shots.

Costs for metal roofing and installation are higher than for asphalt shingles. But you also have to remember that it is a 50+ year investment.

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