Katy Elliott

A daily design journal about new england life, home decorating resources, and renovating a 257-year-old house in Marblehead, MA.

Roof Colors: Charcoal Or Pewter Gray

Posted on | November 9, 2010 | 65 Comments

All hands on deck! I need help. I found a roofer, love him! I need to pick a roof color pronto! He gave me a sample board of colors but I’m having a really hard time choosing. All the roofs I like in town are charcoal which is really dark. But I love how the contrast looks on my favorite house color combo: putty/white trim/dark green shutters. But I realize it’s not very “green” of me to choose such a dark color. Darker colors absorb, lighter colors are more reflective thus making the house less hot in the summer and more efficient.

I tried to find some examples of gray architectural shingles in my neighborhood but I had a really hard time. Most of them are charcoal. I really need everyone’s opinion. Charcoal or Pewter Gray. The first roof below is similar to pewter gray? I’m having a color inducing anxiety attack. Above my roof as is which is really light gray, yuck!

p.s. I got the roof colors names confused before. Look here at the shingles website for more photos.

Architectural shingles in a gray





This one is my favorite but my roofer told me it’s Pewter in 3-tab which looks lighter. But I think he meant to say, charcoal? I have to use architectural shingles because that’s what my historic society approved.

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65 Responses to “Roof Colors: Charcoal Or Pewter Gray”

  1. mary
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

    Pewter – no contest! :)


  2. Corey
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    I like pewter also


  3. Lauren
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

    agreed, pewter wins!


  4. michelle
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

    I agree with mary… pewter!


  5. Caroline
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    If you are really set on your colour choice, I would go for pewter too. But in general, i probably like the colour in the last picture the best.


  6. Cara
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

    pewter. Agree the last image is very nice but the darker pewter is more refined, maybe even more classy.


  7. emerson merrick
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    Gotta say, I’m a fan of the pewter.


  8. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    I love pewter too but why can’t dark colors be more efficient? My bf may never approve dark shingles!


  9. tonijala
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    pewter-hands down!


  10. lori
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

    a red roof would make this house pop out and with class !


  11. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

    Oh no I think I have the names confused. I’ll update this afternoon.

    But you get idea…regardless of names.

    My roofer is bringing over larger samples this afternoon of different grays.


  12. Emily
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    I think that the roof color depends on the color that you decide to paint your house – the pewter would look nice with the putty/white trim/dark green color scheme.

    I also wonder if your house originally had a slate roof or a wood shingle roof (I assume wood shingle?). The pewter does a nice job of approximating the color of slate, but maybe a lighter grey would better mimic the color of a weathered wood shingle (and would satisfy your boyfriend!)? Just a thought!


  13. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

    The house would have had a wood shingled roof which is gorgeous but about 3x the cost of an asphalt roof.

    I like that the grays have more tones and look less flat then the dark.


  14. Rachel
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    I actually like the grey the best…. looks less dreary.


  15. Kim
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    Pewter, hands down! It makes the roof stand out more as an architectural element.


  16. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    Yes! I did screw up the names. Dark is charcoal and the lighter option is pewter gray.

    See samples here on website: http://www.gaf.com/Roofing/Residential/Products/Shingles/Timberline/Timberline-Natural-Shadow/Timberline-Natural-Shadow-Shingles.aspx

    Anyone that commented before…I know which one you meant.


  17. jennie
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    I like the dark too. This might be a dumb question, but wouldn’t the dark roof help heat the house in the winter? Or is there not enough sun to make a difference? We get a lot of sunny yet cold days here in PA.


  18. Rachel
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    So un-PC, but you are working so hard on this, go with the one you want! Bake in the summer if you must to make up for the energy issue, but you will be happier! ; )


  19. nicole
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    Mmm, pewter for sure. So pretty – almost like the fog rolling in off the atlantic kind of color. Perfect for your sweet coastal town.


  20. Dulcie
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    Charcoal without a doubt. And I agree that the darker roof will help absorb the sun’s heat in the winter. I think it is a tradeoff. Get the one you love!


  21. Kitty
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:37 pm



  22. Laura.
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    yeah, i like the charcoal, especially since you envision it with the rest of the house being your ideal color, etc. you know? and can’t that be just as environmentally friendly by absorbing sun and heating the house in the winter? i have no idea, but i’m willing to make up a reason to go for it :)


  23. Ann
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

    At first I would say pewter but looking at your house I think the charcoal is a much better choice. The contrast is more federal looking for the Marblehead and Salem area. Miss living in Marblehead. This I know for sure, always get the color you love or you regret it. Listen to your heart! Good luck!
    P.S. Dark is good especially in the cold winters in Marblehead.


  24. annmarie Galvin
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

    The darker gray, hands down!!


  25. Lindsay
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

    Charcoal! charcoal.. charcoal…charcoal ^_^


  26. Kristen
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

    I also agree that the darker one (Charcoal, right?) looks nicer. And is there REALLY such a big energy/efficiency difference between the light and the dark greys?


  27. Kristen
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

    PS: Isn’t it more historically accurate to sweat your butt off in the summer, anyway? :)


  28. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

    Funny Kristen. I’m not really sure how significant the difference is from basically dark gray to gray.


  29. Celia
    November 9th, 2010 @ 4:12 pm



  30. Andrea
    November 9th, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

    Charcoal! Darker!! Gorgeous!


  31. Jen
    November 9th, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    I thought I was in the minority with the darker until I read on. Living in Newburyport I understand the decision. Basically, (and you probably already know this) the darker the roof the lighter the house color. The various shades of light grey leave it hard to coordinate a perfect house color. Also, if it is too hot in the summer – go to the beach, because you can :)


  32. Polly
    November 9th, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

    My vote, the darker color always on a roof, I think the lighter the color shingles the cheaper they look, just an opinion !


  33. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

    Wow not a single vote for a lighter gray? Everyone loves dark?? Hmm I’m still torn.

    I think I’ll wait for the sunshine to make my decision.


  34. mydesignchic
    November 9th, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

    Love the dark gray…thrilled to find your blog this evening – it’s wonderful!!


  35. Rebecca
    November 9th, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

    Charcoal will make it look classy and offers a nice contrast to the house paint. The darker color grounds the house as well. I love across the street from a light grey roof and it makes me think the roof is covered in a layer of ash. It’s not very pretty.


  36. Liz
    November 9th, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

    you could look at it as, there are many cold days in massachusetts. perhaps a darker roof color would help your house absorb and retain heat in the cooler days, which may be equal to or greater than the number of hot days in your part of the world. ;)


  37. Paul
    November 9th, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    Charcoal. It will be more classic NE. The lighter color is more a suburban deal. Also, I think darker color will absorb more heat and keep the planet cooler, instead of reflecting into the atmosphere.


  38. G
    November 9th, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    Get what you like – you’re paying for it.


  39. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

    Thank you sweetheart. :)


  40. kelly
    November 9th, 2010 @ 10:18 pm



  41. Elizabeth
    November 9th, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

    dark. charcoal without a doubt. it grounds the house, makes a stronger statement for the roof line and is more versatile for paint color options! Good Luck.


  42. kristin
    November 9th, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

    hello there katie….i am the person who stopped to chat recently, having grown up in marblehead and so admiring what you are undertaking!……i really like the slightly less heavy look of the pewter – your home has such lovely lines, and i think it will look gorgeous with less visual weight….all best, kristin


  43. Katy Elliott
    November 9th, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

    Thanks Kristin! For stopping by to say hello and leaving a comment. :)


  44. Tracy
    November 10th, 2010 @ 7:48 am

    Hi Katy,
    I love your blog! And usually never comment but…

    We have an old farmhouse just outside of Portland, Maine and 2 years ago we put on Charcoal Architectural shingles. :) My husband had the same concerns but in the end we just liked the darker color better. Now that they are on…. We don’t overheat although we do have a tree over our home that shields us from the sun a bit.

    Bottom line – pick the color you like!

    But also, I checked out that website – did you see the “Cool Series” – I think it mentioned a $1500 tax credit for purchasing more energy efficient shingles AND they have a “Cool Weathered Wood” color that might be just what you’re looking for… Good Luck with your decision.


  45. Patsy
    November 10th, 2010 @ 10:53 am

    Definitely darker! The first photo, with the lighter roof, is of (relatively) new construction townhouses. All the rest with the darker roofs are gorgeous period houses.


  46. Katy Elliott
    November 10th, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    I think darker is going to win. Cross your fingers it looks awesome!

    I’m going to have such a fancy roof in a few weeks.

    Feeling like we are finally getting somewhere!


  47. Caroline Collins, Charleston SC
    November 10th, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

    I like the darker roof shingles. It hides rain stains better over time.


  48. Virginia
    November 10th, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Darker! The lighter looks too development-ish. Can’t wait to see it finished!


  49. emma@themarionhousebook
    November 10th, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

    i think you’ve made your decision but definitely the charcoal!


  50. Sara
    November 10th, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

    my shingles started out like #2 (darker) from the top and now they look like #6 (lighter), 11 years later.I mentioned this on an earlier post.


  51. Katy Elliott
    November 10th, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

    Thanks Sara. Exactly what my older sister told me last night too! They will fade.

    Thanks for leaving another comment and reminding me. :)


  52. Josephine
    November 10th, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

    I have no idea if this is true or not since it doesn’t come from a very scientific source, but our realtor has said the darker shingles last longer. So if you’re going off his advice it could be more “green” to select a darker color; on the basis of landfill space and all. I personally just like darker shingles! Another point, our house is 80 years old and it’s more difficult for us to keep it warm in winter than it is cool in summer. So maybe the heat/sun absorption in a New England winter would pay off more?


  53. Rachel
    November 10th, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

    Hi Katy,
    I am a LEED (Leadership in energy and environmental design) Accredited Professional… What I took away from the experience of learning about all sorts of green building practices was that there are many ways to reduce a footprint and it is mostly important that you are considering it at all. So maybe you pick the darker (which I think looks fab) but reduce your home’s footprint in another arena like having a compost or installing dual flush toilets? It’s all about tradeoffs. I am so excited to see the new roof! Good job! R


  54. melinda
    November 10th, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    I think the dark shingles look great with a darker house color and the pewter would probably look nice with a neutral color. I love how the roof pops on that dark blue house with the black shutters, wowie-wow-wow-wow!


  55. ddl
    November 10th, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

    Go with what you like,(I like the charcoal) just spend the extra few hundred bucks for them to ice and water shield the whole roof.


  56. Doreen
    November 10th, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

    Charcoal looks richer hands down!


  57. Rachel
    November 11th, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    The darker grey (pewter? charcoal? I’m confused!).


  58. Katy Elliott
    November 11th, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

    Rachel! I know I confused everyone. About an hour after I posted the piece I realized I had the names mixed up.

    Basically 99% of people voted for the dark which is actually charcoal.

    If you look at the earlier comments they say pewter but everyone means charcoal.



  59. moparbrownstoner
    November 11th, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

    You’re going darker than your current roof? How is the temperature in the summer now?

    We have a black roof and it’s absolutely unbearable on the top floor but we live in NYC where it’s much hotter than where you are. We’re going to paint our roof silver to reflect the heat like everyone else in NYC, but of course it’s a row house so no one can see it from the street and the color doesn’t matter.


  60. Katy Elliott
    November 11th, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

    Yup darker. It’s hot but it’s summer. NY is much hotter in the summer.

    If you couldn’t see it I would totally go white.

    If I had all the money in the world I would go with wood shingles.

    Instead we’re going with charcoal.


  61. Cheryl Pass
    November 13th, 2010 @ 9:51 am

    I went through this same color issue last year. Not sure if this is a problem in your area, but lighter roof colors show mildew stains after a time. I think this is why the darker colors look better, because those stains do not show on them. Another commenter was right in pointing out the warmth in the winter, especially since you live in New England. I would also point out that the charcoal color looks dressier, a bit more formal than the pewter color.

    Good luck with your choice…it is one of those heart attack decisions because you have to live with it for a long time!


  62. Katy Elliott
    November 15th, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    Here is some more info on why choosing light colored roofs make buildings more efficient.


    I’m looking for a credited article about why dark roofs are good or bad in New England winters. Stay tuned.


  63. Jennifer
    January 20th, 2011 @ 6:13 am

    My hus was a roofer in his HS days…he is dead set on always choosing the darkest roof color possible. Don’t know exactly why, but aesthetically, he says darker always looks better, and roof color always looks lighter than we think once it goes on the house. I know I’d like to replace our ugly brown roof with a dark gray/black roof!


  64. Jennifer
    January 20th, 2011 @ 6:14 am

    OK–I just looked at dates of other postes…sure you’ve chosen it by now! Still fun to reply.


  65. Herb Brungard
    July 22nd, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    Hey there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to take a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and excellent style and design.


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