Dark vs Light Colored Roof Shingles: Which is Best for Your Home?

When homeowners begin researching a roofing project, they have numerous decisions to make. One of the most frequent questions that come up in their research is dark vs. light colored roof shingles – which is best for my home? Sure, there is plenty to consider in the color of your shingles, but there are always light and dark shades that are also part of the decision.

Gray colored roof shingles

Things to keep in mind when choosing light or dark shingles is that lighter shingles are more prone to showing dirt and grime, algae or mildew growth. However, lighter shingles absorb less heat, which means they are less likely to break down as fast as darker colored shingles do. Some research points to light shingles absorbing less heat, which means the home stays cooler during the summer. However, it’s also been proven that shingles of all colors are poor reflectors of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

If you’re in a cooler climate or if your roof doesn’t get much sunlight, choosing a darker color might be in your best interest, as snow will also melt faster on darker shingles. Also, darker shingles can help, to some degree, keep the home warmer during the cold winter months.

At VIS Exterior, we are big proponents of choosing neutral colors/shades. We know our customers have a ton of questions on this topic and given our years of experience roofing homes of all types, we can field all of your questions and help you make more informed decisions.

Does your shingle roof color really matter?

Homeowners are tasked with a variety of questions to answer as they approach roofing their homes. For example, does shingle color matter? There is always the personal aesthetic preference to consider, but when tastes tend toward more drastic colors that really stand out, that can lead to issues should the homeowner decide to put the house on the market. While that color might have been in vogue briefly years ago, the vibrant colors don’t always retain their popularity.

complete asphalt shingle roof replacement downers grove

What about brighter colors vs. darker colors? There’s the concern about a darker roof absorbing more of the sun’s energy, which means warmer temperatures inside. While some make the jump to lighter colors for this reason, the difference between light and dark is only 4 to 7 degrees. So, if you’re looking for lighter colors to save a ton of money on your utility bill in the summer, you’re not likely to see too much of a difference.

The bigger issue in saving money on utility bills is how insulated the home is. If yours was built with inferior insulation, you’re going to notice that much more than you would by choosing a light or dark-colored shingle. When the roof of a home is properly insulated, the ability to maintain comfortable temperatures inside the home is virtually the same with light or dark shingles.

At VIS Exterior, when we hear the question, “does roof color matter?” The answer is “yes” for a variety of reasons, not the least of which involves the preference of the homeowner.

How roof color affects your home?

Think about the roof color of your neighbors’ homes. Can you rattle them off without looking? There are so many asphalt roofing colors, and many homes use a variety of them throughout their roof, even if the colors only slightly vary. Most asphalt roofing material manufacturers create colors that help the roof blend in, which is perhaps why you can’t pinpoint the exact color of the roofs around you. But color can make an impact, which we’ll discuss further here.

Shingle roof color affects the indoor temperature

Roof color matters, particularly in your attic. For example, depending on the roof shingles colors, the temperature in your attic can vary by 20 to 40 degrees. For homes that receive little or no shade, choosing lighter asphalt roofing colors will help reflect sunlight off the roof and keep the temperatures lower, which will make cooling the house less expensive.

Dark shingles absorb more heat than light shingles. In colder climates, this is an advantage. Another perk to having dark shingles is that they also help to melt snow accumulation faster than light shingles. There are other factors that impact how the sun impacts the internal temperatures of your home. Metal roofs, as an example, are far more reflective than asphalt shingles. This means that should you have neutral colored shingles on your roof, it will be far less reflective than a dark colored metal roof.

When considering managing your indoor temperatures throughout the seasons, homeowners need to make the decision on what season requires more assistance that a specific color of shingles can offer. However, it must also be mentioned here that the quality of your insulation will also have a huge impact.

Shingle roof color affects the energy efficiency of your home

There is a correlation between shingles color and energy efficiency. While it is true that a properly insulated home must always be the top consideration for energy efficiency, shingle color does have an impact. For example, roofs that have a darker color of shingle will absorb more of the sun’s energy, which can transfer to the inside of the home. This is a bonus during the cold winter months.

Energy efficiency during the summer months can be improved by having a roof with light colored shingles, as these do a better job of reflecting the sun’s energy and keeping heat from getting into the home. While these efficiencies will be noticeable in the summer, the opposite is true of the winter months when you could use that absorption and transfer of warmth into the home.

Shingle roof color affects snowmelt

If dark shingles have a “reputation,” part of it is that they are known for melting snow faster than light-colored shingles. This is because dark shingles absorb more heat, which leads to faster melting. However, you have to take into account that the winter months offer precious few hours of sunlight. It’s important to note here that if you are leaning toward the darker colors for the purpose of melting snow off your roof faster, when the entire roof is covered in snow, there will be no dark colors to absorb the sun’s energy and those dark shingle qualities you were hoping to benefit from just won’t happen.

Furthermore, if you’re having issues with ice dams during the winter months, there is probably something going on in your attic that needs attention, such as sufficient airflow and improved insulation. Roofing specialists can remedy your ice dam situation to some degree, but it’s also necessary to address the internal concerns.

Shingle roof color affects roof longevity

If you’ve heard that dark shingles break down faster because they absorb more heat than light shingles, you’re probably thinking you need light shingles installed because you’ll get more life out of them. And while this theory seems to make a lot of sense, the reality is that roofing experts don’t find this to be based in fact. There has been plenty of testing done on the topic and no solid connection has been found.

And while roof longevity has no solid correlation to color, what’s more important is that your roof is getting the ventilation it needs. For example, when heat builds up on your roof, it needs a place to escape from, which is why ventilation is so vital. Without it, you will see damage to your roof and premature failures related to moisture buildup, which lead to rotting, mold and mildew.

When you have your roofing system regularly inspected, you can catch problem areas before they get out of hand and require major repairs. Furthermore, ask your roofing contractor about durable shingles that are also energy efficient. This means you’ll get a long-lasting roof, but also have more comfort in your home without all the high utility bills.

Homeowners have different wants and needs when it comes to the color of their roof, and all good roofing contractors will take this into account, as appearances are important. Also important is that the roofing materials used are from a trusted manufacturer that offers a warranty, and that the contractor installing the materials is certified to install those materials. When everything goes as planned, the homeowner gets the color they want, but they also get the durability and all parties are accountable for their roles in the project.

Dark shingles vs. light shingles for your roof

If you’ve got a roof replacement project coming up, you’re probably doing plenty of research about dark shingles vs. light shingles. While each shade has their pros and cons, one of the most important things you can do is find a trusted and reputable roofing contractor who can consult with you on the dark vs. light-colored roof shingles issue and give you a fact-based decision on which will work best on your home.

Dark roof shingles

Dark roof shingles are most popular in a variety of grays, but you’ll also frequently see dark brown on homes throughout the U.S. Shingles like these are not only highly affordable, they’re also available from a variety of manufacturers who offer many different dark colored shingles options for homeowners to choose from.

asphalt shingle roofing oak brook

If the paint on your home is in the lighter category, dark shingles tend to pair best with that type of paint. If you have distinctive features in the design of your house that you want to shine, dark shingles have a tendency to kind of fade into the background, allowing the features to pop.

One thing to keep in mind about dark roof shingles is that during the summer, they are prone to absorbing more heat, which means the home must be properly insulated and airflow/ventilation needs to be adequate. This absorption is often seen as an advantage in the winter months, but it’s also true that when a home is properly insulated, the absorption factor plays a minor role at best.

Dark roof shingles examples from leading manufacturers

Looking for a quality manufacturer of dark roof shingles? GAF Timberline HDZ shingles meet that description, as do the Owens Corning Duration shingles, which come in many shades that will look great on many different styles of homes.

Black asphalt shingles

Solid black asphalt shingles that have no blended colors are a popular option for many styles of homes. Duration Onyx from Owens Corning is a reliable option that many roofing contractors use. Owens Corning onyx black shingles are a popular choice because they fit so many different styles of architecture. Also popular are the Timberline HDZ charcoal shingles from GAF. In fact, GAF charcoal black shingles are a traditional shingle color option that is popular throughout the country because it matches every style of home. Also, for homeowners who are stuck on the color decision, the charcoal option is always a “no regrets'' situation.

Owens Corning Duration Onyx Black shingles

Dark asphalt shingles Owens Corning Onyx Black

GAF Timberline HDZ Charcoal shingles

Dark asphalt shingles GAF Timberline HDZ Charcoal

Dark gray asphalt shingles

Dark gray roof shingles are a popular option for homeowners everywhere. For example, at VIS Exterior, we are big fans of Owens Corning Estate gray shingles and GAF pewter gray shingles. We like them because they last a long time and because our clients like the look of them, particularly on homes that are painted light blues and gray tones. For homeowners who want to create a “cooler” look, they often choose gray over brown.

Owens Corning Duration Estate Gray shingles

Dark asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Estate Gray

GAF Timberline HDZ Pewter Gray shingles

Dark asphalt shingles GAF Timberline HDZ Pewter Gray

Dark brown asphalt shingles

GAF offers a variety of dark brown options, including its Mission Brown shingles, Autumn Brown shingles and the Barkwood option. Dark brown shingles are great on homes where subtle imperfections might be made more noticeable with light-colored shingles. While GAF brown shingles are popular, so too are the Owens Corning brownwood shingles. Our experience with homeowners is that they prefer dark brown shingles to complement wood homes quite nicely, but they are also a good match for homeowners who want to keep it understated and have the roof simply blend in.

Owens Corning Duration Brownwood shingles

Dark asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Brownwood

GAF Timberline HDZ Barkwood shingles

Dark asphalt shingles GAF Timberline HDZ Barkwood

Red asphalt shingles

Going for that modern look? Choose red asphalt roof shingles, including Owens Corning red shingles and Owens Corning terra cotta shingles. GAF offers a red shingle they call “patriot red,” which meets that call for a more modern aesthetic. Keep in mind that red shingles are considered a bolder option, which means they will stand out more than just about any other asphalt roof shingle color.

Owens Corning duration Terra Cotta shingles

Dark asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Terra Cotta

Green asphalt shingles

You don’t have to live in a white A-frame farmhouse to have green shingles. Yes, green looks amazing on simple white homes, but the color, such as what you get with Owens Corning green shingles and GAF green shingles, looks fantastic on a variety of different colored homes. Owens Corning also has a chateau green product that is popular today, and the GAF hunter green shingles have also been in high demand.

Owens Corning Duration Chateau Green shingles

Dark asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Chateau Green

GAF Timberline HDZ Hunter Green shingles

Dark asphalt shingles GAF Timberline HDZ Hunter Green

Blue asphalt shingles

If you’re going for a color in the cool category rather than warm, various shades of blue asphalt shingles do the trick quite well. For example, Owens Corning blue shingles and GAF blue shingles are widely used on homes where blue roofing caps off the aesthetic vibe. GAF biscayne blue shingles are in high demand today, as are Owens Corning harbor blue shingles. The biscayne blue shingles are actually architecturally stylish and durable.

Owens Corning Duration Harbor Blue shingles

Dark asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Harbor Blue

GAF Biscayne Blue shingles

Dark asphalt shingles GAF Timberline HDZ Biscayne Blue

Light roof shingles

Light roof shingles are made with some of the exact same materials that go into darker shades, the only difference being the pigment used to color the outer layer of the shingle. For homes with darker siding, the most aesthetically pleasing option for shingles is a lighter color.

owens corning architectural shingles roofing homer glen

Aesthetics aside, one of the main reasons homeowners choose light colored shingles is for comfort and lower utility bills during the summer months. A light colored roof reflects the sun’s energy, which means the surface temperature of the roof will be lower than a dark-shingled roof. The impact of the reflective quality of the light-colored shingle on the interior of the home is based on the quality of ventilation and the type of insulation used in the home.

Some homeowners have heard that light-colored shingles last longer than dark shingles due to the fact that the reflective qualities prevent breakdown of the materials in the shingles, but tests by roofing material manufacturers do not confirm this theory.

Light shingles are also prone to revealing imperfections in the supporting structures in the roof, which is also something that deserves consideration prior to installation. Be sure to consult with your roofing contractor about this as you work together to make a decision about shingle colors.

Light roof shingles examples from leading manufacturers

At VIS Exterior, we’re committed to using the best roofing materials, which includes GAF Timberline HDZ shingles and Owens Corning Duration shingles, which come in a variety of light colors. The following are some of the best we’ve used over the years.

Light gray asphalt shingles

Light gray shingles, including Owens Corning gray shingles and GAF birchwood shingles, are fine examples of products used with confidence by a variety of roofing contractors. While yellow siding on a home pairs best with light gray roof shingles, there are many other colors that are a perfect match with gray shingles, including Owens Corning quarry gray shingles. In general, roofing contractors will recommend pairing light gray shingles with neutral-colored homes.

Owens Corning Duration Quarry Gray shingles

Light asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Quarry Gray

GAF Timberline HDZ Birchwood shingles

Light asphalt shingles GAF Timberline HDZ Birchwood

Light brown asphalt shingles

If you want the roof to be highlighted by your neutral-colored home, choose light brown asphalt shingles. When our clients ask for a light brown roof, we often choose Owens Corning brown shingles, including the Owens Corning desert tan option, and GAF brown shingles, including the popular GAF shakewood shingles. In our experience, the best color combinations with light brown shingles include homes that are blue, green, white, terra cotta or taupe/beige.

Owens Corning Duration Desert Tan shingles

Light asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Desert Tan

GAF Timberline HDZ Shakewood shingles

Light asphalt shingles GAF Timberline HDZ Shakewood

White asphalt shingles

Owens Corning white shingles and GAF white shingles top the list of preferences for shingles in this shade. For example, some of our most often used products are GAF arctic white shingles and Owens Corning Shasta white shingles. The best match for a white roof is a medium shade of gray on the home, as the gray will stand out from the white roof, yet not be overbearing. This color of shingle will be the most reflective, so if keeping the roof cool during the summer is a high priority, white is the best color.

Owens Corning Duration Shasta White shingles

Light asphalt shingles Owens Corning Duration Shasta White

GAF Timberline Natural Shadow Arctic White shingles

Light asphalt shingles GAF Natural Shadow Arctic White

Final verdict: Are dark or light shingles better for your roof?

As with most home improvement projects, there are plenty of pros and cons to weigh before making a decision on materials. The dark roof vs. light roof discussion has been going on for years as homeowners ask themselves, “which is better, light or dark roof shingles?” If you’re working with a quality roofing contractor, they will help you make that decision. In most cases, the decision comes down to what looks best with the current color of your home.

house after roofing

Having a professional roofer on your side is important, because the choice of materials you use on your roof can have a significant impact on the overall success of the project. For example, if your home is poorly insulated and keeping it warm in the winter is an issue, you should be directed to choose a dark-colored roof. Conversely, if you have a difficult time keeping your home cool in the summer, you should be advised to use light-colored shingles on your roof, as they will reflect the sun’s rays more effectively than dark shingles.

We know from Energy.gov that they recommend light colored shingles on houses in warm climates. Yet in cooler climates, the organization advises that light colored roofs will not be the preferred choice. However, we also know from numerous studies that while the temperature of the light colored roof under intense summer sun will be cooler than a dark roof, the interior of the home might not be as impacted if the home is properly insulated and the air flow is also optimal.

Contact a local roof replacement contractor for help to choose the best roof color

VIS Exterior is the local roof replacement expert you can trust to guide you through the entire roofing process, including choosing the best color shingles to go on your roof. As one of the region's best roof replacement contractors, we are expert communicators, which is a crucial quality for getting exceptional services.

At VIS Exterior, we begin every project by consulting with the homeowner, listening to their wants, needs and concerns. We will also thoroughly inspect the roof and make sure the structures are in good shape and pinpointing areas that need some attention before installing the new roof. We only use the best products on the market, as they are the most durable and have the most attractive aesthetic appeal.

The homeowner has a big part in choosing the shingles, as their personal preferences are a driving factor in choosing the shingles. But as experts with nearly 20 years of experience in roofing, we offer the guidance that leads to a successful end to the project, including helping to choose the right color of shingles.

roofing homeowners illustration

VIS Exterior is certified, licensed and insured. Furthermore, we offer a warranty on our work. We only employ quality roofers with years of experience behind them. We’re fully committed to safety and respecting our work environment. Contact us and learn more about how we can make your roofing project a complete success.

Val Slajus
Owner / Author
Val Slajus

My journey began with a passion for home improvement, and I established VIS Exterior because I firmly believe that everyone deserves to live in a beautiful home. With years of experience in the roofing and siding craft, I'm dedicated to helping you enhance the protection and aesthetics of your home. Through this blog, I'm excited to share my knowledge and insights, empowering you to make informed decisions when planning your next exterior renovation project.