Should You Get Black or White Roofing?

What’s the Best Roof Color?

Whether you’re buying a new house or renovating your current one, there will be a lot of choices for you to make in the process. Many of your decisions will depend on personal preference. However, some of them should be based on relevant research, as well. This post will aid you in your decision regarding the best roof color for your house. Your decision should be based not only on aesthetics, but also on energy efficiency and material availability.

Energy Efficiency: Cool Roofs vs. Warm Roofs

You may have heard that roof color can have a major impact on your electricity bill. In the past, people have argued that white roofs (and other light beige shades) are more energy efficient than black roofs (and other dark blue, brown, or gray shades), making white the best roof color for all homes.

White roofs are known as “cool roofs” because light colors deflect sunlight, keeping most of its heat away from the home. Black roofs are known as “warm roofs” because they deflect less heat, allowing more into the home. The difference is palpable: on a hot day, a black roof can be as high as 100 degrees warmer than the air temperature, while a white roof will only be 20 degrees warmer than air temperature. During the hottest months of the year, a white roof can significantly decrease your energy usage.

Are Cool Roofs Always More Cost Effective?

The first cool roof studies concluded that white was objectively the best roof color for cost effectiveness. Later, studies showed that in cooler, northern climates, cool roofs can still result in a higher annual energy costs for homeowners.

This is because in the winter months, houses with white roofing will deflect the warmth of the sun and result in higher heating costs than houses with black roofing. Overall, the decreased cooling costs will be negated by the increased heating costs. As a result, in northern areas, black roofs or “warm roofs” are the best roof color for cost effectiveness and environmental friendliness. In the south and on the West Coast, especially, cool roofs are the better option.


Many types of roofing materials come in both white and black, but some will only come in one of the colors. If you have a specific material in mind, then your options for roof colors may be limited. However, feel free to reach out to CHR&R for more information about the best roof color in the material you want.

Metal Roofing (Black and White Roofs)

Metal roofing is easy to find in both black and white colors, and may just be the future of roofing due to the decreasing cost of metal as a material. White metal has the highest rate of solar reflectivity than any other material, and a large portion of California cool roofs are created with metal. Metal roofing comes in a variety of colors, so you should be able to find the best roof color for your house in metal.

The cost of materials and installation, however, is about two or three times that of asphalt shingles, the most common roofing material. Whether or not it is ultimately worth it to install a metal roof will depend on your climate and the longevity of the metal. If you live in an especially warm area such as Arizona or California, you are almost sure to reap back the extra costs through savings on your electricity bill. You’ll also find that metal roofs last about 70+ years, while asphalt roofs MUST be replaced every 15-20 years.

Asphalt Shingles (Black Roofs)

Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors, but most of them are very dark. White shingles are rare, although homeowners can choose to purchase special paints and paint their dark shingles white.

This material is somewhat durable, but requires frequent maintenance. It cannot withstand very heavy winds, and darker asphalt shingles are prone to fading in direct sunlight. Some asphalt shingles can last around 50 years, but most only last about 20. While asphalt can be recycled, it’s often not worth the cost, and they are often disposed of in landfills.

Slate Tile Shingles (Black Roofs)

Like asphalt shingles, slate tile shingles also come in a variety of dark and medium-dark colors. They are sophisticated-looking and provide the best roof colors to suit any home with a classic look.

The material is relatively durable and isn’t susceptible to rot or mold, like asphalt. These tiles can last about 100 years and are easily recycled for use on new roofs.

Concrete Tile Shingles (Black and White Roofs)

Concrete tile shingles come in a variety of styles and colors and have had a long history of use all around the world. They come in some of the best roof colors available for heritage-style homes. You’ll find that they’re very durable — most notably, they’re wind, fire, and rain resistant. They last about 50 years and are very easily recyclable.


As with all light-colored objects, white roofs made in all materials can become dirty and dark easily. Not only is this unappealing, but it can also negatively impact your roof’s ability to deflect heat and increase your home’s energy efficiency. Some roof coatings are available to counter this effect — allowing you to perform less frequent maintenance. However, you will still have to arrange inspections and cleaning maintenance for your roof.

While maintenance may seem high, this does not mean that white can’t be the best roof color for you. In fact, black roofs are prone to their own issues. Asphalt shingles, in particular, will fade and deteriorate over time.

Personal Preference and Other Considerations

Keep all these factors in mind while making your decision for the best roof color for your house, but make sure to think about your aesthetic goals as well. Although white roofs are modern and chic, they can also be blinding to look at on a sunny day. A black roof, on the other hand, may feel overly conventional to you. There are also many in-between options, such as red, green and blue. Evaluate what matters to you when deciding on a roof color and make your dream home a reality.

If you have more questions about roofing for your home or business, CHR&R is here to help throughout Southern California!