Choosing the Right Roof Color for Your Exterior Design Palette

Chad Esslinger of Chad Esslinger Design answers homeowners’ questions about how to enhance their home’s exterior design and curb appeal when getting a new roof.

Warm Color Palettes vs Cool Color Palettes: What’s the Difference?

Homeowner Question: What’s the difference between warm color palettes and cool color palettes? These seem to be popular terms when it comes to design. How do I know which color palette I have or that would work best for my home exterior?

Chad’s Answer: Remember learning about the color wheel back in art class? The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow, and the secondary colors are orange, green, and violet (a fancy name for purple). As basic color groups, red, yellow, and orange are considered to be “warm” colors, and blue, green, and violet are considered to be “cool” colors.

Every color can skew warmer or cooler. For example, let’s compare mint green vs. sage green: Mint green is bluer so it appears to be cooler, while sage green has some yellow undertones and therefore appears a little warmer. 

Mint green
Sage green

Shades of white, grays, and black can have cool or warm tones too. Think of ivory white (warm) vs paperwhite (cool) or nickel (warm) vs chrome (cool).

Think about colors in this set of letters: R-O-Y-G-B-V (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet). The first three are warm and the last three are cool. Any primary color plus shades of gray that skew towards the first three letters is considered warm. Primary colors would be considered cool if they are mixed with any levels of the last three letters. For example, a warm yellow would have more orange in it, while a cool yellow would have higher levels of green.

When it Comes to Coordinating Exterior Colors for Your Home, Get Physical Samples

Pulling together physical samples of your exterior elements is a must.  Once you have all your exterior sample choices laid out together, you should be able to tell which ones have a warm or cool tone.  When you  mix warm and cool tone products together something will just look off.  Rather than switch colors completely if this happens, you can just check if there is a different shade of the same color – like the mint green vs sage green example.

You could also use a color like pure black to bridge both cool and warm colors, but most other colors lean one way or the other, including white, so you may need to adjust your palette.

When coordinating a warm or cool home exterior color palette also involves selecting the color of your roof, ask your roofing contractor for a list of addresses where you can see the shingle colors you’re considering installed on a house.  And, if you are still struggling with deciding between a cool or warm color palette for your home’s exterior design, ask a friend or bring in a designer who can give you a professional opinion. 

TruDefinition® Duration® Designer Shingles in the color Black Sable

Don’t overthink it—you’ll naturally gravitate toward a palette that feels good to you.  To get some inspiration you can always drive around the neighborhood to see what other people have done, or you can reference the roofing style boards from Owens Corning.

More from Chad Esslinger

Chad answers homeowners’ questions about their roofs and home exterior design.

Roof Color Q&A with Chad Esslinger, Designer
Preview of Chad's Aged Copper Style Board
Chad shares his thoughts and style board for our 2021 Shingle Color of the Year, Aged Copper

Design Inspiration from Owens Corning

Looking for design inspiration? Explore the many tools and content Owens Corning has to offer:

2021 Shingle Color of the Year - Aged Copper
Learn more about our 2021 Shingle Color of the Year, Aged Copper
Not sure what color shingle will work with your roof? Explore our Style Boards
Upload a picture of your home and “try on” shingles with Design EyeQ®
Explore the many shingle color options from Owens Corning with Pick Your Shingles

About Chad Esslinger Design

Chad Esslinger
Chad Esslinger Design logo

Chad Esslinger Design is a full-service design company focusing on residential interior design, decorating and remodeling. Chad loves partnering with homeowners to create beautiful and functional living spaces.

Chad Esslinger Design is committed to beautiful and creative design as well as unparalleled service. Chad believes that great design is contemporary but timeless, simple but elegant. The goal of any project is to create breathtaking beauty, innovative functionality, and a truly enjoyable design process. Learn more about Chad.