Color trends truly affect how we purchase consumer goods — from clothing and shoes to furniture and paint, and everything in between.
Color trends also exist in the architectural metal roofing industry, especially because home and property owners will look at metal roofs for decades. In 2023, some design and color trends have been in the market for a while, but a few newer ones might surprise you.
If you’re an architect looking to specify a trendy color for your project or a home/property owner buying a new metal roof, choosing the right color is critical.
At Sheffield Metals, we’re constantly monitoring color trends (with the help of our paint supplier Sherwin-Williams and coil coating company Precoat Metals) and tracking the most frequently purchased metal sheet and coil colors. Plus, with a full-time Architectural Department composed of individuals with an extensive architectural metal industry background, we frequently provide design and color recommendations for various project applications.
So, what colors are popular for metal roofing in 2023? Let’s dive into some of the choices dominating the market right now.
Metal Roof Color Trend #1: Black (Matte Black)
The first color trend — which has been at the top of our sales lists for several years now — is many architects’ and home/property owners’ favorite: Matte Black.
In fact, the Matte Black color produced by Sherwin-Williams Coil & Extrusion Coatings division has experienced an average growth of over 20% in the past five years.
According to Precoat Metals, one of the most significant emerging trends is matte finishes in general. Precoat claims matte finishes have grown by double digits yearly for the past five years.
So why Matte Black? What makes it such a widely purchased coil color? Let’s discuss why this color is first on our list again this year.
Benefits of Choosing a Black Metal Roof or Wall
Black is versatile and can be used in several styles of architecture for both residential and commercial applications.
In 2023, the modern farmhouse style still dominates the residential design and construction market. This exterior design style has been popular for the past 5-10 years due to its comforting aesthetic, ability to blend well with other elements, and use in home renovation TV shows. Many modern farmhouse exteriors feature white walls/siding and a black roof (or a black accent section of the roof).
Besides the modern farmhouse, matte black is a good roofing and wall color option for several other architectural building styles, including Modern, Contemporary, Cape Cod, Colonial, Tudor, and more.
Modern, Comforting, & Subtly Eye-Catching
Black by itself offers a sleek and modern aesthetic. Plus, it’s a color that will never go out of style in the interior and exterior architectural industry.
Another appealing part about black is that it offers a dramatic look without being too bright or flashy. Black differs from roofs with more vibrant colors (like red, green, or blue) because it’s more subtle and natural.
That said, black doesn’t just blend into the background; instead, it can provide a much-needed contrast against lighter or different colors, which helps draw the eye in and create a more profound visual interest.
Complementary to Other Colors
Like how black can be a great contrasting color, it also complements many other commonly used exterior colors, including whites, grays, greens, blues, and browns. Black is a neutral color, meaning you can pair it with almost any other building or outdoor element, such as trim, siding, gutters, doors, window frames, signs, landscaping, and beyond.
Choosing a color like matte black will give you much more design freedom for longer, which is essential because metal roofs are engineered to last for four or more decades. The timelessness and versatility of a black roof give you flexibility if you decide to update or change your exterior style in the future.
If you’re concerned about oil canning on your metal roof, one of the ways to minimize its appearance is to install a system in a low gloss or matte finish, like Matte Black. Roofs with glossy finishes can reflect more light and show any visual imperfections that could be taking place in the flat of the panel.
Matte finishes also make it easier to hide minor scuffing or scratches that can happen during the shipping or installation of a metal panel system.
Drawbacks Choosing a Black Metal Roof or Wall
Low Solar Reflective Index
One of the most significant drawbacks to a matte black metal roof is that it has one of the lower Solar Reflective Index (SRI) numbers, which affects how much heat the roofing system will absorb and emit. The Sheffield Metals Matte Black coil color has an SRI of 27.
These lower SRI values will translate to lesser energy savings in the long run when compared to colors with higher values. However, metal is one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly roofing materials, so despite the slightly lower SRI value, you’re still using a smart building material and contributing to conservation efforts.
Shorter Chalk & Fade Warranty
Another drawback to a matte black metal roof is that it often doesn’t carry the same timeframe for chalking and fading as other not-as-vivid or pigmented colors.
While most other stocked colors carry a Number 8 chalk and a five (5) ∆E unit fade warranty for 30 years, the same chalking and fading units are only covered for ten years with Matte Black. In other words, Matte Black’s pigment will not hold up as long as a lighter color, such as Sandstone or Dove Gray, as those with lighter pigments will not be as visibly affected by chalking and fading.
Metal Roof Color Trend #2: Bronze (Dark & Medium Bronze)
The next color trend in metal roofing is bronze, which includes two main color options: Dark Bronze and Medium Bronze.
Natural and anodized metals have taken center stage in the last few years, as many property owners appreciate the look and warmth of these color families. Plus, metals convey luxury and provide more visual interest.
Dark Bronze has been in the top three of our most purchased colors year after year. But what makes Dark or Medium Bronze a good choice for your project?
Benefits of Choosing a Bronze Metal Roof or Wall
Natural Earth Tone
Medium and darker brown colors are often associated with the Earth, as these tones resemble the color of soil, stones, trees, and other natural elements. Many property owners want their homes or buildings to match the geographic surroundings and not stand out negatively. So, if your project is located in a forest or mountain environment, utilizing an earthy brown color, such as Dark or Medium Bronze, as the roof or wall system is a no-brainer. These two colors create a cohesive aesthetic that doesn’t stray from these regions’ overall “nature and natural” feeling.
Warm & Welcoming Shade
To go along with the natural earth tone characteristic, incorporating warm browns into the exterior of your home or property is a way to convey a friendly, down-to-earth, and welcoming feeling.
Design Longevity & Complementary to Other Colors
Choosing brown, a neutral color, for your roof will give you design freedom for many years. Neutrals are considered “friendly” to other colors and pair well with many palettes and exterior styles. So, if you decide to change up the exterior of your property in a few years or so, Dark Bronze and Medium Bronze will likely be able to fit into a design easily.
Like Matte Black, Dark Bronze and Medium Bronze also complement many other commonly used exterior building colors, including whites, blacks, greens, and beiges.
Plus, metal tones like bronze are commonly used in interior and exterior designs, mainly because metal colors tend to contrast well against other colors and textures.
More Economical & Useful Than Real Bronze
It’s much less expensive to use a Galvalume or aluminum coated in a PVDF or SMP paint system with a color similar to a metal tone than the actual metal. Plus, bronze isn’t recommended or even an available metal for standing seam metal roofing.
By buying painted material, you can get a similar look to a bronze metal roof with Dark Bronze or Medium Bronze — and at a much better price.
Drawbacks of Choosing a Bronze Metal Roof or Wall
Lower Solar Reflective Index (SRI)
One of the more significant drawbacks to both Dark Bronze and Medium Bronze is that they have low Solar Reflective Index (SRI) numbers, which affect how much heat the roofing system will absorb and emit. For reference:
- Dark Bronze has an SRI of 24
- Medium Bronze has an SRI of 31
Glossy Finish Issues
Glossy roofs, especially in a darker color like Dark Bronze, reflect more light and can show visual imperfections in the flat of the panel — especially oil canning. If you’re concerned about oil canning on your metal roof, one of the ways to minimize its appearance is to install a system in a lighter color with a lower gloss finish. Or, if you still want a glossy finish, ensure your roof panels have striations or another rib roller rollformed into the flat area of the panel.
Additionally, glossy finishes make scuffs and scratches more visible.
Metal Roof Color Trend #3: Gray (Charcoal Gray)
The last color trend on our list is another color that continues to dominate: gray, specifically Charcoal Gray.
In the 2000s, gray overtook beige to become the new neutral cornerstone, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down in 2023. However, keep an eye on gray; there are signs that exterior building trends are returning to warmer colors like browns and beiges (away from cold grays) in the next three to five years.
In the meantime, let’s discuss why you might pick one of our grays — Ash Gray, Charcoal Gray, Dove Gray, or Slate Gray — for your roof or wall.
Benefits of Choosing a Gray Metal Roof or Wall
Warm & Cool Gray Tones Offered
Gray metal roofing colors can come in both cool and warm shades. At Sheffield Metals, our most popular gray is Charcoal Gray, a darker and cooler shade of gray. Dove Gray is also on the cooler side. Conversely, Ash Gray and Slate Gray are the color options that are a little on the warmer side of the gray spectrum.
Warm, cool, and neutral grays can all fit in as a metal roof or wall; it’s solely dependent on your style, surroundings, and what you envision working best on your business or home.
For example, suppose you live in a desert region that experiences significant sunlight and warmth and want your roof to match that environment. You might want to choose a lighter and warmer gray tone, like Ash Gray.
Neutral, Natural, & Versatile
Due to its warm and cool shades, you can pair gray with nearly any other color. You commonly find grays in exterior color palettes, as this family of colors resembles similar grays found in nature (think stones, mountains, clay, etc.).
Plus, some property owners choose gray tones because they resemble natural metals, such as Charcoal Gray (similar to zinc) or Dove Gray (similar to silver).
Ultimately, you can do much more with your exterior elements if you have neutral colors as key building pieces — including your roof and siding. For example, suppose you have a gray metal roof and white siding. In that case, you can easily style your property’s exterior by applying various textures and colors to your trim, front door, fencing, landscaping, etc.
Suitable for Numerous Architectural Styles
Due to gray being a mix of white and black, gray is one of the most versatile colors you can use in architectural projects. Plus, it conforms to several building styles in residential and commercial spaces, including Modern, Contemporary, Ranch, Craftsman, etc.
Mid-range SRI (Solar Reflective Index) Options
A couple of the grays available have mid-range SRI values:
- Ash Gray has an SRI of 41
- Dove Gray has an SRI of 56
These mid-range SRI values will likely result in medium energy savings.
Subtle, Yet Modern & Sophisticated
Gray is a color that doesn’t jump out to the eye and blends in well, especially on homes and buildings. Despite their subtle nature, grays are usually modern, sophisticated, and generally comforting (warm grays), which might make them a good choice for your roof or wall system.
Drawbacks of Choosing a Gray Metal Roof or Wall
Cold & Little Visual Interest
Sometimes, gray appears cold, unwelcoming, or dull — and is therefore thought to be boring. While you likely don’t want your roof or wall to stand out completely against your neighborhood’s other homes and properties, you probably still want it to be eye-catching and noticeable.
This drawback is more of a consideration and something to weigh against your design interests and what you envision.
Dark & Glossy Finish Issues (Charcoal Gray)
Similar to darker bronze colors, darker grays with a glossy finish can also reflect more light and can show visual imperfections in the flat of the panel, including oil canning.
Low SRI Options
As we discussed before, there are gray material options with relatively good SRI values, and there are some options with a lower SRI, including:
- Charcoal Gray has an SRI of 28
- Slate Gray has an SRI of 33
2023 Honorable Mentions & Future Trends
Beyond black, bronze/brown, and gray, there are a few other notable colors and trends to watch in the future.
Honorable Mention #1: Acrylic-Coated Galvalume (unpainted)
While Acrylic-Coated Galvalume is technically not a paint color, it remains towards the top of our most popular coil options.
Benefits of Acrylic-Coated Galvalume include:
- Offers a natural metal finish
- Common in specific areas of the U.S.
- Mid-level SRI value
- Neutral and versatile
Honorable Mention #2: Regal White
The other honorable mention is Regal White, the truest white color on our color card.
Benefits of Regal White include:
- Timeless and classic
- Clean and crisp
- Higher SRI value and, therefore, more energy-efficient
- Less chalking and fading concerns
Future Color & Paint Trends
According to Sherwin Williams’ Perspectives trend forecasting report, there are a few key colors and trends prominently featured, including:
- Nostalgic and warm browns and beiges
- Adventurous golds, silvers, and other Metallic/Mica paint technologies
- Futuristic grays, blacks, prints, and textured finishes (sometimes called a Crinkle Finish)
Tips to Help You Choose the Best Metal Roof or Wall Color
Explore Color Palettes & Photo Galleries
Exploring different exterior color palettes online is one of the best places to start when choosing a color. Look on Pinterest, Google your property style, read articles online, or utilize resources from reputable sources like Sherwin-Williams for exterior color inspiration.
Beyond that, you can also look up metal suppliers and check out their photo galleries for inspiration. You might come across a color you have never considered before that would be great for your project.
Look at Manufacturer’s Color Options
Once you have a design idea or a color palette that you like or believe would work well with the building, it’s time to look at the colors and coatings offered by different manufacturers.
Reputable manufacturers should list their color options on their website, which may also be available as a downloadable color card. Most suppliers tend to have similar standard colors, primarily if they use one of the prominent paint suppliers, such as Sherwin-Williams or PPG. If you want a color that is more vibrant, unique, or specific to a branding style, there’s also the option for custom colors.
Additionally, you’ll want to verify that the manufacturer you’re using or specifying offers the best paint system (PVDF vs. SMP) for your requirements and has adequate cool metal roofing properties (SRI, emissivity, LEED, etc.) suitable for your location.
Use a Visualizing Tool and/or Upload a Photo of the Property
The ability to see different colors on a structure makes a difference, especially when deciding between two or more colors. Roof and wall color visualizers can help.
Sheffield Metals offers a free Color Visualizer tool where you can upload a photo of your project and see what each of our colors would look like on the roof, wall, and trim areas. Or, if you don’t want to take a picture of the structure or don’t have one, there are also standard building photos available to choose from if you just want a better idea of how colors differ when seen on a physical property.
Request Metal Color Chips from the Manufacturer
While the Color Visualizer is an excellent tool for some, we understand that not everyone wants to rely on a digital mockup of their project. That’s why you can request that color samples be shipped directly to you, which can help provide the most realistic representation of a color.
Once you receive the colors you requested samples of, you can compare the colors with the other elements of the building and environment. That way, you have a better idea of the final product and can easily pick the best color.
Final Thoughts on the Best Metal Colors of 2023
While the colors discussed above are the ones dominating the architectural metals industry, it doesn’t mean that they will fit every project or design. You should always choose a color that you love for your metal roof or wall project. Or, if you represent a client, they should always have a say in the final color choice.
If your color choice is Matte Black, Medium Bronze, Charcoal Gray, or something not included in this list of 2023 color trends — the project will still turn out looking great and lasting for decades.
In other words: There’s no wrong color choice.
Do you want some help with your architectural project or design? Our team at Sheffield Metals has put an emphasis on assisting architects and even homeowners during the design phase of their metal roof or wall project; we’re happy to take a look at your plans!
Contact our Architectural Department today to discuss color options, engineering requirements, and any other critical component of your standing seam design.