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How to Choose the Right Shingles for Beautiful Home Exterior Design

By Cristina Soriano

February 17, 2023

Exterior design of a luxury suburban home

Your roof is central to your home's exterior aesthetic. Your roof style, shingle type, and color palette all work together with other architectural elements to give your home lasting curb appeal. When a beautiful home's exterior design successfully balances all of these elements, the results will bring satisfaction for years to come.

The Three Main Types of Asphalt Shingles

All the choices you make when designing your roof will have an impact on your home's overall look and feel. This includes your color palette, shingle shape, dimensionality, and considering specific styles that match your house's aesthetic and location. But knowing your basic roof building blocks—the types of shingles available—is the best way to begin making an informed decision. GAF shingles provide an array of options within the three main categories of asphalt shingles: 3-tab architectural, and designer.

3-Tab or Strip Shingles

With a single layer of asphalt-coated fiberglass, 3-tab, or strip shingles are a straightforward, attractive, and economical roofing option. These shingles are perfect for budget-conscious homeowners, and also offer a simple counterpoint to homes with busy siding, mixed materials, or vibrant colors.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles come in a myriad of colors and finishes—such as an enhanced shadow effect reminiscent of wood or slate. They can also include pragmatic features, including algae-fighting technology to help prevent algae stains, or high reflectivity that may help reduce under-roof attic temperatures. The wide variety of architectural shingles makes it possible to achieve your ideal home exterior design seamlessly.

Architectural shingles—such as GAF Timberline® Shingles—combine visual appeal, performance, and dependability, making them a popular all-round option.

Designer Shingles

As the name suggests, Designer Shingles come with the most sophisticated designs and luxurious color palettes—as well as extra-upscale finishes intended to imitate traditional roofing materials such as slate or wood. Fortunately, not only do modern designer shingles look as good as these traditional shingle types, but they also come at a fraction of cost.

Bringing Out Your Home's Unique Architectural Design

Together, the structural architectural style and roof style join forces to create the first impression of your home—as well as the view you'll have every time you approach your door—so, ideally, you should choose your roof style and color for maximum synergy. Since roofs are such a powerful element of home exterior design, a non-complementary choice could produce a jarring effect—like coming across a rustic wood-shake look on top of a sleek modern glass house, or streamlined urban-chic shingles on an idyllic country cottage!

Traditional Home Design

Traditional homes are typically symmetrical and classical in design. They're marked by lighter-colored siding, windows flanked by shutters, and tall roofs with simple gables. Many traditional homes have porches supported by classic columns fit to summon neighbors over for a welcoming glass of iced tea.

Because many traditional homes have darker shutters—for example, a white wall might pair well with Charleston-green shutters—shingle colors such as charcoals, dark greens, and dark browns often complement the design nicely. If adding dimension is a priority, you can select a textured architectural shingle with a mix of colors.

Rustic and Mountain Home Design

Rustic and mountain homes tend to have earth-toned siding in wood, brick, or stone. Rustic homes emphasize nature and tend to feature exposed wooden beams and an understated simplicity. Mountain homes tend to be a little more ornate and mix natural materials on a grander scale, but they still imitate the surrounding nature.

Designer Shingles come in organic shapes and colors with depth, dimension, and a speckled palette. They are ideal for maintaining a pastoral feel. Because they tend to look more organic, a natural-styled roof can help maintain that rustic sensibility.

Contemporary Home Design

Modern and contemporary homes generally feature geometric lines and large floor-to-ceiling glass windows. They tend to have larger open rooms rather than extensions and wings, keeping roof lines low and inconspicuous.

Modern homes embrace functionality, so marrying form and function is a priority for many homeowners. For contemporary structures, opt for shingles with clean edges and bold shadows in darker colors.

Tudor-Style Home Design

Tudor-style homes typically have steep-pitched, multiple-gable roofs at varying heights and slopes. Many use a range of materials like stone and brick mixed with decorative half-timbering.

If your Tudor home's exterior design is already ornate, opt for a simple shingle type that shows off the overall design without overcomplicating it. Also, consider how much the roof makes up of your home's overall exterior to ensure the chosen design or color doesn't overwhelm its fundamental look. Always think about cohesion.

Choosing Your Home's Color Palette

Color palette is another critical element of your home's exterior design. As with roof style and exterior architecture, it's important that your home's color remains loyal not only to its architecture but to its surroundings. For example, it would be rare to see a pastel-colored modern house or a white-sided traditional home in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. So the color of your roof is a major part of your home's palette.

Is your home in the cool or warm color family? Cool colors tend to have blue and gray undertones, while warm colors include reds, yellows, and browns. If your home is on the cooler end, it may make sense to select a roof color that also has cool tones, such as charcoal. However, if your home has multiple textures—like a Tudor-style home with stone siding—a more monochromatic roof with minimal contrast can help keep the texture of the roof and the texture of the home in balance.

Remember that lighting also influences color, so study your home and the surrounding environment before making your selection. Consider how the color might look at different times of day, in direct and indirect sunlight, and in harsh weather.

If your home has simple wood siding, also keep in mind that the home's paint may be easier to change than a roof. You'll have your chosen roof color for a long time, so choose a shade and texture that you think will work with many color trends.

Creating a Beautiful Home

Keeping these three exterior design elements in mind can help guide you toward a beautiful, cohesive, and impressive effect. Consult the GAF Style Guide for more advice on how to bring out a style you'll love to see every time you come home.

About the Author

Cristina began her career in the fashion industry specializing in marketing and branding for luxury brands. As her own home evolved, she realized the love she had for her surroundings, specifically entertaining and design, and launched her career to celebrate all things home. Cristina's work includes a broad spectrum of design roles – from styling and planning intimate gatherings and events, creative designs for homes and unique spaces, and creative direction and styling photo shoots. The combination of her natural grace, eye for beauty and her experience in photography and set design, has given the foundation for Cristina to entertain effortlessly. Her beautifully curated tablescapes and perfect entertaining essentials allow her guests to feel welcome and the event to be unforgettable. Her distinctly detailed eye gives her the amazing ability to style spaces embodying an elegant yet artistic flair, with charming and intimate aura. Born in the Philippines and with Spanish heritage, she brings elements of her childhood memories of a home that celebrated entertaining and took pride in beautiful and elegant tablescapes. She gets her inspiration from her inherent mix of cultures, integrating them with her current home, New York City.

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Your Home

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