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BACKGROUND COLOR —Choosing a roof color from a small color chip or from colors on a computer screen is a mistake. To choose our roof color we got several large shingle samples and put them on the roof to see the color in our light. Photo courtesy of Marni Jameson.

Food, clothing and a roof over your head most would agree are basic needs. We’re two out of three at our house. The soggy realization that our roof was kaput soaked in a few weeks ago.

“Uhhh, Honey?” I said, looking up from the kitchen table toward a brown splotch forming on the white ceiling.

DC followed my glance to the new, saucer-sized water stain and said something I cannot print in a family newspaper.

And the phone calls began. Two inspections, one insurance claim and four roofing estimates confirmed:



The roofers’ estimates were all close in price and established that we weren’t getting out of this for less than the cost of a Honda Civic, a nice wedding or 35,568 cans of soup, which is what we’ll be eating. We won’t even talk about my dashed dream of new fall landscaping for the backyard.

However, if I must be grown up about this, which I resent, the roof news wasn’t a complete surprise. When we bought the happier yellow house two years ago, the home inspector said the roof had only a few good years left. Asphalt shingle roofs in Florida’s hot, humid, hurricane-ridden climate typically last 15 to 20 years. Ours had been broiling now for 16.

I looked for the silver tarp in all this. “Maybe we can improve our home’s curb appeal,” I said to DC hopefully. “I mean, we could get something besides boring gray asphalt shingles.”

DC didn’t answer. He was too busy staring into his Scotch trying to find meaning in the ice cubes.

The most popular roofing material in the United States, asphalt shingles are economical, practical and work with a lot of traditional home styles. Tile, metal or slate roofs, though they last longer, cost a lot more and are heavy; many homes (including ours) aren’t built to support them. Wood shingles, a good fit for ranch or rustic homes, can develop algae in moist climates.

Though I couldn’t change the type of shingle, I could still change the color. I surveyed the sample board’s 18 choices to see what might best top off our home. The many grays ranged in value from mist white to charcoal black. In between were bold color options like atlantic blue, hunter green and cottage red. Hmmm. I felt my knees giving way and called my brother.

Blue Roofing Shingles

A Los Angeles-based design architect, Craig Jameson makes these decisions every day. He brought me to my senses as he often does. “It’s OK to be gray,” he said, then offered these points to consider when choosing a new roof color:

After considering a gamut of color options, I chose, thanks to Craig’s sound advice, medium gray (colonial slate) asphalt shingles in almost exactly the same color as the shingles we’re replacing. Though change is fun, sometimes boring is best. Picking a roof is one of those times.

Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of five home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go” and the forthcoming “Downsizing the Blended Home – When Two Households Become One” (Sterling Publishing, Dec. 2019). You may reach her at marnijameson.com.

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