Contrary to popular belief, a metal roof can be any color you desire. In fact, you have probably seen any number of metal roofs in colors that match the rainbow and then some.
If you are having difficulties determining the best color option for your project, we have a few tips on selecting a color and a brief overview of the properties and process of finishing metal roof panels that can help you narrow down your choices.
The first consideration is the style of your structure.
- Commercial structures may be required to match others in the vicinity or follow a branded color scheme.
- Historic homes may be restricted to a particular color palette.
- Different styles tend to look better with specific colors.
Commercial structures run the gamut from industrial warehouses to franchise restaurants. A franchise with an eye-popping color scheme is What-a-Burger. The highly recognizable building is topped with an orange and white striped roof.
The orange is likely a specific shade selected by the company. The manufacturer of their roof panels is given precise instructions about mixing and matching that particular shade of orange for the restaurants.
If you own a historic home, you may be required to follow a set of specifications when you renovate or change anything on the exterior. If you are allowed to install a metal roof, rest assured you can match any style of roofing material and color you need.
Neutral tones and darker colors are the best choice for traditional homes.
- French country style houses look better with a blue-green shade that imitates slate.
- Spanish or Mediterranean style homes need terracotta, orange or reddish tiles.
- Homes with permanent siding require careful consideration because you cannot change the exterior wall color. Avoid very dark or bright shades and overly earthy colors.
A contemporary home is a blank canvas. Unless your homeowners association says otherwise, you can select a bold shade to complement unique architectural elements, a metallic color such as copper or steel or the latest innovation - two-tone, variegated paint colors.
Other considerations for selecting a paint color include the choice to coordinate or complement the roof color with the walls or trim, the local climate, cost and curb appeal.
Properties of Paint for Metal Roof
Paint and finishes for metal roofs are comprised of pigment, resin and solvent.
- Pigment is the color or hue. Ceramic pigments are an industry standard. Ceramic pigments are typically mixed with premium resins while organic pigments are mixed with lower cost resins.
- Resin material has a direct relationship to the length of the warranty. Premiums paints can carry a warranty of 25 years. Polyester is a common resin with silicone polyesters imparting a high gloss finish that is more durable than standard polyester resins. PVDF is a cutting-edge resin providing long term color retention especially with a metallic finish.
- The solvent provides a medium for the pigment and resin to mix and to help with rapid drying.
Some paints are treated to block UV radiation to prevent premature fading, corrosion, peeling, water infiltration or rust.
Before steel is given a color-finish, it is coated to protect against rust and corrosion. Galvanized coating is 100% zinc that forms a sacrificial layer on the metal’s surface. Zinc oxidizes faster than iron and so binds oxygen into zinc oxide before the oxygen can bind with iron to cause rust.
Galvalume(R) is a similar material made of zinc and aluminum. Aluminum provides the primary defense against corrosion while the zinc offers an additional layer of protection. Galvalume provides longer protection against corrosion and rust than does Galvanized.
The manufacturing paint finish is a multi-step process developed to maximize quality and lifetime performance.
- Roof panels, available as coils of flat sheets of steel, are fed into a machine where it uncoils for processing.
- The metal is cleaned of all debris, dirt and oil that may be on the surface.
- A pre-treatment (galvanizing or Galvalume) chemically alters the metal’s surface to optimize bonding of the primer and protect against corrosion.
- A primer coat made of polyester or acrylic is added for UV resistance and to optimize bonding of the paint layer.
- Two to five layers of topcoat (paint or finish) is then placed on the coil and dried.
Most metal component manufacturers and vendors provide panels in a set of stock colors for immediate use. Custom colors must be ordered but you can obtain any tint, shade or hue you need at additional cost and production time. Also available are a variety of patterns and textures. A recent development is a variegated color pattern that produces a dimensional appearance.
The Metal Construction Association established a certification program to assist in determining the quality of paint coating systems. Selected products can receive a “Standard” or “Premium” MCA certification stamp on the labeling. Standard certification is appropriate for most areas of the country while Premium certified paints should be used in extreme wind, rain and sun exposure.
MCA is a voluntary program and not every manufacturer chooses to stamp its products. If you wish to know about a non-stamped product, contact the manufacturer for detailed information about the longevity and durability of their coating.
Kynar 500 and Hylar 5000 are well-known premium paint finishes that come with 30 year warranties. An SMP designation denotes a siliconized modified polyester which is less expensive and comes with a shorter warranty. It is highly resistant to scratching during handling.
Cool Roofs for Energy Efficiency
If your objective is energy efficiency, a white roof with specialized pigments can lower cooling costs by 15% to 25%. A white roof reflects solar energy away from the roof while specialized pigments can re-emit any heat absorbed by the roof.
If you need to conserve heat, a dark color will reflect less solar radiation and will absorb heat for transfer to the interior.
As you can see, the color options for your metal roof are virtually endless. From white to black and everything in between, you can purchase stock or custom colors, profiles and textured roof panels for any design objective.
As a bonus, you receive a durable steel roof that will look great for decades.