Is Black Metal Roof A Dumb Idea?


Black metal roofing is on-trend in 2021 owing to its great looks and its potential to improve a home’s curb appeal. But is it a dumb idea considering the heat gain and the possible side effects it can have on your roof?

The idea of a black roof is counter-intuitive to consumers worried about excess heat and high cooling bills. Indeed, black absorbs heat more than lighter colors and could potentially make your home hotter and have your air conditioning working overtime. But does that mean we should write off black roofs entirely?

In this article, we interrogate the subject further to shed more light on the issue. If you are considering installing a black roof but are still sitting on the fence on the matter, read on to find out whether a black metal roof is a hit or miss.

Heat Gain Goes Beyond Color

Darker colors will indeed absorb more heat than neutral and lighter colors. But it is not as black and white as that in metal roofing. Besides color, many factors determine how much of the sun’s heat gets into the home. Let us examine some of them below.

Insulation

Most, if not all, roofs require insulation. Insulating your roof creates a barrier that prevents excess heat from penetrating your home. Failing to insulate your roof can make your house feel uncomfortable and raises your energy bills significantly.

Foil insulation is recommended for use under metal roofs in addition to traditional insulation. Without it, the heat from the underside of the metal will find its way into your home. Some studies suggest that it can lower your cooling bills by five to ten percent.

When installing a radiant barrier, ensure the shiny surface is facing up. Otherwise, it will reflect the absorbed heat into the attic instead of radiating it back to the roof.

There has to be an air gap between the roof deck and the metal roof for a radiant barrier to work. Therefore, some manufacturers will design panels with this air space. But if that is not the case, consumers can still construct a batten structure to achieve the same effect.

Ventilation

Compared to color, ventilation plays a more significant role in regulating the temperature in your home. Having a properly ventilated roof prevents heat buildup in the attic. The hot air rises and moves out at the ridges while fresh, cool air moves in at the eaves.

Without proper ventilation, it will not matter how light your roof color is. The attic will get heated up nonetheless and transfer the excess heat into your home. That results in higher energy costs since your air conditioner has to work harder to keep the house cool.

On the other hand, proper ventilation will eliminate most of the heat absorbed by your black roof. Consequently, your house will remain cooler even during the summer. That will eventually translate to a more comfortable home and lower cooling bills.

Thickness

The thickness of the roofing material will also determine how much of the sun’s heat the roof absorbs. Naturally, thicker materials will absorb more heat than thinner ones. For instance, clay tiles and asphalt shingles will soak up more heat than metal roofs, even black ones.

Thickness also determines how faster the roof dissipates the absorbed heat. Thicker material could take hours before it releases all the absorbed heat back to the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the heat will still be permeating into your home. Metal will still lose heat faster since it is thinner even if it absorbs a lot of heat (as is the case with black metal).

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Reflective Coating

Metal roofing often incorporates reflective pigments that reflect the sun’s rays. Even with a dark roofing color, the special coatings will allow less heat into the home compared to lighter colored asphalt shingles or clay tiles.

If you install a metal roof of any color, the reflective pigments will guarantee lower cooling bills. That is because your AC system will require less energy to keep your home cool and comfortable. Going for a lighter color will only supplement the reflective nature of your roof.

How Hot Does a Black Roof Get?

During a hot day (90 degrees or more), the temperature of a black metal roof can reach upwards of 140 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Other black roofing materials will attain the same temperature, but metal will dissipate the heat faster since it is thinner. Also, it does a better job at regulating heat and will adapt quickly to temperature changes.

Is a Black Roof Energy-Efficient?

Metal is an energy-efficient roofing material regardless of color. That’s because the reflective pigments embedded on the surface reflect most of the light. Granted, black will absorb more heat than lighter colors. However, the variance in energy efficiency is insignificant provided the roof is well ventilated and insulated.

Moreover, black is the most energy-efficient metal roofing color during winter and in areas that experience colder climates. It will lower your heating bills because it will take less energy to heat your home.

Will a Black Metal Roof Fade?

All colors are bound to fade when exposed to UV, temperature fluctuations, pollutants, and moisture. However, you may notice the fading more in black roofs owing to the darker contrast. Nevertheless, a quality paint finish like Kynar can help retain the original color of your roof for longer.

Which is the Coolest Metal Color

We have already established that black is on the other end of the spectrum as respects cool roofs. That begs the question: Which metal roofing color is the coolest? The answer is obvious. White will reflect light best.

On a hot 90-degree day, a white roof’s temperature only rises to between 102 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It reflects most of the sun’s rays even without the help of reflective pigments. But ultimately, any metal roofing color can be energy efficient with proper ventilation, insulation, and reflective pigments.

Why You Should Choose Black Metal Roofing

Black screams style and sophistication. More people are now choosing it over lighter and neutral colors. But what is the reason for this new trend? Below, we look at the benefits of installing a black metal roof.

Striking Appearance

Black metal is an excellent roofing choice, aesthetically speaking. It gives your home a striking, unique appearance, making it stand out among other roofs in the neighborhood. Moreover, the color helps accentuate the unique architectural characteristics of your roof.

In contemporary design, black is considered a modern color. And people often use it to contrast lighter colors on the home’s exterior. If you intend to give your house a modern makeover, black is the way to go.

Retains More Heat during winter

While a black roof may not be a favorable option during the summer, it is the best option during winter. The color is an excellent heat absorber and will even pick up thermal energy on a cloudy day. That means more heat will circulate into your home, thus lowering your energy bills.

Blends with Different Colors and Patterns

The color of the exterior plays a significant role when choosing your roof color. The general rule is to choose a color that blends with the siding, doors, and windows. A black metal roof will match many color options. For instance, the classic farmhouse look (black roof with white siding) is on the trend.

If your home’s exterior incorporates different colors and patterns, a black roof can help bring all the varying elements together. A single-toned roof will not draw attention to itself but will direct it to the individual features.

Melts Ice and Snow Faster

Snow and ice can accumulate on your roof during the winter months. The extra weight can stress the structure, weakening it or causing irreparable damage. Black roofs reduce the chances of snow accumulating since they absorb more heat, causing the snow to melt away.

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Can Hide Imperfections

A dark color can hide imperfects on your roof since they will be less visible against the dark surface. The black color helps project seamless visual aesthetics that mask problems such as oil canning and scratches. As a result, your roof can still look new even after decades of abuse from UV, foot traffic, and harsh weather.

Matte VS Glossy Finish

If you decide black metal is the way to go, you have two options when picking the finish—matte or glossy finish. Glossy black gives your roof a shiny appearance that looks more intense and dramatic. On the other hand, a matte finish has less glare. It gives your roof a warm, laid-back look. What option you choose will depend on your personal preference.

Final Thoughts

Back to our question. Is a black metal roof a dumb idea? Certainly not. Black will absorb more heat than light and neutral colors, but a roof need not be white to be considered a cool roof. Color does play a part, but how much heat gets into your home is a combination of different factors.

As long as you get the ventilation and insulation right, you can choose whatever roofing color your heart desires. Besides, a modern metal roof already incorporates reflective pigments that reflect UV rays regardless of color.

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