Pay Dirt!

September 7, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

By Kate Smith, Sensational Color.

Learn how the color of the soil on your property can help you determine the best roof color for your home.

When Scarlett O’Hara grabbed a fistful of dirt and proclaimed, “As God is my witness, I will never go hungry again!” is it possible she was thinking that the red clay of Tara would make a good color for her old plantation house’s roof? Hardly, but in today’s society, the color of earth surrounding your home may indeed be a good indicator for what color roof you should select! 

It may sound a bit crazy, but the color of the soil on your property can be a great way to determine a roof color that will help your home fit in with its natural surroundings. Why? Because when the horizontal plane of color that tops off your home is the same as the color surrounding your house’s foundation, it instantly anchors your house to the landscape. 

FRESH Start 

In my FRESH ebook for selecting colors that work for the exterior of your home, the “E” in FRESH stands for “Environment and Surroundings.” There’s nothing purer to the environment than the dirt you’re standing on. 

I believe you can work from the top down when selecting colors for your home exterior. Start by seeing what connects your home to the land you’re on. That means figuring out the overall color tones of your soil. 

Begin by stepping back and looking at your land from a slight distance. This allows your eye to visually blend the hues into a single color. This is better than having many individual colors of the soil jump out at you. Now, how does this relate to selecting a color for your roof? 

Here are some soil-to-roof color recommendations I’ve made in the past: 

  • Black, rich soil = Slate Black roof 
  • Orangey, clay soil = Terra Cotta roof 
  • Dingy, dry gray soil = Light Tan roof 
  • Sandy soil = Light Weathered Gray roof 
  • Silty soil = Light Chesapeake roof 
  • Earthy, brown soil = Dark Mountain roof 

Dirty little secrets of soil 

The nice thing about getting so specific on these soil colors is you can gain shades of different colors when working with composite slate and shake roofing. Here’s my secret. With the color advice work I do at DaVinci Roofscapes, there are 49 standard colors to choose from, so it’s pretty easy to find a color solution to complement any type of soil! 

If you want to try different roofing colors on your own home, it’s easy to do so. Stand outside and take a picture of your house with the dirt/landscaping showing. Then upload the photo to the DaVinci Color Visualizer. From there you can “sample” on different types and colors of roofing on your home until you hit pay dirt! 

And, if you’d like to find out more about soil, visit the Smithsonian’s site “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil.” For the true dirt on soil, you can look up Munsell Soil Color Charts to explore the forensics, landscaping and geology of soils around the world! 

Have a question? AskARoofer.

Find your local roofing contractor in the RoofersCoffeeShop® Contractor Directory. 

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