Here's Why Experts Say You Should Always Paint Your Roof a Light Color

A mistake as small as choosing the wrong paint color could cause serious damage to your home.

When it comes to painting your house, the right color can make all the difference. For example, according to a 2018 report from Zillow, a yellow exterior can tank your home's sale price, and a dark front door can send it soaring. But it's not just the siding you should take into consideration before you pick up that paintbrush—painting your roof the wrong color can affect both the functionality of your home and how much it ends up costing you over time. So what's the best color to paint your roof? According to Jeff Neal, a project estimator with painting contractor Capital Coating, you'll want to go light on your roof.

Specifically, Neal says painting your roof white could save you a huge amount of money—and keep your space more comfortable over the years, as well. This is particularly true for any home with a flat roof, which "will receive 100 percent sun exposure throughout the entire duration of the day," Neal explains.

And while blacktop roofs may be common, Neal says that "if a roof is black or gray, it will absorb all the light and heat that comes from that sun exposure." So, just how hot can a dark roof get over time? The upper ceilings of a building with a flat, dark-colored roof can easily reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot summer day, according to Neal.

The best way to go when it comes to painting your roof, Neal says, is to use a white urethane or silicone coating to "drastically reduce the amount of heat being absorbed." In fact, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Climate reveals that painting a roof white does reduce summer air conditioning costs (although, on a large scale, it may actually slightly increase the Earth's overall temperature).

However, if you don't have a readily paintable roof, or if your roof is sloped, there are a few alternatives for keeping it cool. The aforementioned study's author, Marc Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, told Fast Company that you can try adding solar panels to your roof instead. "That not only cools the house by absorbing the sunlight to
 make electricity, it also offsets fossil fuel generation at power
plants," he said. Alternatively, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, building a "green roof"—by putting raised beds on a flat roof—can help absorb heat and reduce the risk of stagnant water pooling that might otherwise attract bugs or contribute to leaks.

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