Your steel roof doesn’t have to remain “steel-colored.” You have an entire pallet of colors to choose from; so many, in fact, that you can get analysis paralysis if you look at too many different shades and hues.
There is a method to selecting the right color for your roof. Some considerations are artistic while others are more practical. It’s also a good thing to know how paint is made so you can get the best type possible for your needs that is within your budget.
The benefits of a steel roof - a review
No roof lasts longer than a steel roof. Steel is a highly durable roofing material that can last 40 to 50 years without replacement, certainly longer than traditional asphalt shingles or other materials.
Steel roofs are also sturdy, resistant to high winds and hail damage. However, a steel roof does not attract lightning any more than any other roof; it does have the advantage of spreading the charge out along the roof and down to the ground wire rather than starting a fire.
If a metal roof is replaced, the material can be completely recycled. Part of the steel has been recycled itself when it was made into your roof panel.
Depending on the color and type of roof, it can help you control the temperature inside your home or business with a “cool metal roof” treatment. You can select roofs with different appearances such as a standing seam roof which is the best and an excellent choice for placing solar panels.
A metal roof can be made to resemble almost any other type of material including traditional asphalt shingles, wood shakes, or Spanish tile.
Color options for metal roofing
There is no limit to the color options for a metal roof, only how much a custom color will cost over and above the price of a stock color. Manufacturers typically keep certain colors on hand that are popular or considered “best” for a metal roof by the manufacturer.
You might find colors from two different manufacturers that appear identical except for the name, or you might find slightly different shades between vendors who are trying to create something unique. Most carry muted tones and few bright or pure colors. Marketing and consumer taste plays a large role in color offerings in various regions.
Paint has three properties:
Pigment (color or hue)
The pigment is a mixture of organic and inorganic materials, combined to make a variety of colors. The industry standard is the ceramic pigment which produces a higher quality of paint.
Organic pigments tend to get mixed with less expensive resins while ceramic pigments are often blended with premium resins.
Resin forms the desired appearance of the surface, and the quality has a direct relationship to the length of the warranty, commonly 25 years. There are different types of resin.
- Polyester resin is a typical resin that had fallen out of favor but is coming back as a premium version. It is not considered a high-end material although chemists use it when attempting to upgrade to more durable bonding agents.
- Silicon polyester is similar to Teflon® and provides an extra glossy finish. It is substantially more durable than traditional polyester.
- PVDF is a state-of-the-art fluoropolymer resin that has been around for over 50 years. You often see it marketed as Kynar® 500 or Hylar® 5000. The base material must be at least 70% to be considered a PVDF resin. It is not known as a high gloss coating but tends to have a metallic finish.
Additional resin coatings can be used to change the appearance.
Solvents are the liquid portion of the paint that carries and spreads the pigment and resin. The solvent evaporates upon drying, leaving the color bonded to the substrate.
How the paint gets on the steel
The process of painting steel and other metal is multi-step and very fast. The metal is in flat sheets coiled on large rollers. As it is uncoiled, it is fed into a machine where it is cleaned, pretreated (usually with Galvalume®), primed, and painted.
The sheet is then recoiled after it has dried.
Selecting a color
How can you possibly decide on a color when so many are available? Depending on where you live, your HOA may have something to say about your choice. If you have a homeowners association, you should probably check the bylaws before picking a color.
If you are free to choose whatever you like, consider the following.
- Color coordination - look for a color that coordinates well with the exterior of the house, either the walls or the trim.
- Curb appeal - how will it look from the street and how might it impact the resale value of your house?
- Complementary colors - look for a color that complements the surrounding environment such as the trees or sky. Complementary color can be thought of as part of coordination.
- Local climate - color choices can vary by region according to the prevailing temperature. Cooler regions often use darker colors to soak in the heat. Hotter regions select light or white “cool roof” colors. Your contractor may have some suggestions typical to your location.
- Conformity or rules - kind of a combination of curb appeal and climate, your HOA probably prefers you conform to your neighborhood. Otherwise, it’s up to you whether to blend in or stand out; just remember you will have to live with the color for a long, long time.
- Cost - a color that is in stock is less expensive than custom colors ordered from a vendor. You could even pay top dollar to get a color exclusive to you.
- Function - the capacity of a color helps a roof do what it is intended to do. Should it reflect sunlight or absorb heat? Maybe you want it to re-emit the rays of the sun.
- Favored colors - if you have a color you favor you could certainly go with it, but it isn't an ideal approach except as one factor among many.
After you have narrowed your choice down, be sure to look at it in different light at different times of day, and during different types of weather, so you get a better idea how it will look on the house.
Choosing the right color for your metal roof doesn’t have to be difficult. Even though there are unlimited shades and hues, you can use the factors above to help you make your decision. Your contractor and the manufacturer of the roofing materials can also give you some advice.
Once you have your metal roof, you will be able to enjoy that color for decades.