Black Roofs - Are They a Bad Thing?

black shingles
January 21, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.

Black or darker asphalt colored roofs are some of the best-looking roofs in your neighborhood.

Having the dark contrast with the right house paint makes a good looking home or what is sometimes called “curb appeal.” But as a homeowner, are you worried about the heat from the hot summer months having a black roof?

Choosing a roof color is important. It is not like a shirt you can change daily. You are committed to that color for many years. That is why black roofs are such a good choice, they match many colors of house paint presently have or choose in the future, but the heat issue is still the main concern. Did you know on a hot summer day your attic can reach over 150 degrees? Air trapped attic can get very hot and transmits that heat into your living space. This results in an uncomfortable afternoon and will continue into the evening unless to run the air conditioner and that cost money which is painful also. It is true having a darker colored roof will absorb more heat but by taking a few measures, you can help solve this problem.

Hot summer months an attic can reach over 150 degrees?

Asphalt roofs have a great variety of colors. The shingle is made of an asphaltic mat that generally is reinforced with fiberglass. The top layer is embedded with granules of tiny stones that give you the color of the roof. Some colors, as you know absorb more heat than others. When choosing a darker color roof it becomes very important to have good insulation. This creates a barrier so the heat does not transmit into the living area. Most homes do not have enough insulation and no matter what color roof they have it pounds the heat into the home. I needed insulation in my home and had it blown into a level of R-38 { about 14 inches }. It was done in the summer months and I could immediately tell the difference and advise having it done. Some areas in the country may require more than R-38. Seek out a local professional for the correct amount in your jurisdiction. I myself have a dark grey colored roof and it helped with the summer heat in Sacramento.

Another way to help is the attic ventilation. Having the proper amount of ventilation evacuates the hot air out of the attic. Flushing this hot, stagnate air out and replacing it with fresh cooler air makes having a black roof, not an issue. Both dark roofs and lighter colored roofs should be ventilated. Most contractors these days use ridge vent to exhaust hot air out of the attic. It is a breathable product that lies on top of an opening in the ridge. The hot air naturally moves out this breathable product and when covered with waterproof ridge caps, it causes a suction drawing in fresh air through lower intake vents. There are many ways to vent your attic and the design of your roof may need a different option. Again seeking a professional to design a correct ventilation system will allow any color roof to work well for you.

Light-colored roofs can look good too and can be very reflective. We all have different likes and dislikes and that is why the shingle manufacturers make so many choices for us. One tip I like to share is a short walk or drive around your neighborhood gives you a chance to see color options you may like. Write down the address and give it to you roofer it identifies the manufacture and color or easier go meet your neighbor and ask. most neighbors like to share the experience of the roof job. This I also one way you may find a good roofing contractor.

Have a question? AskARoofer.

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April 8, 2015
Hello Bob , I'm getting ready to install a black shingle roof and I live in Southern California where it gets very hot . I also have a good Whole House Fan . I read your article and it looks like I should be ok . Can you reassure me ? Thank You , Al Yes A

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