flat roof on industrial hall

As a building owner, there are many factors that should go into the final decision for your next roofing system. And, one of those factors is deciding on your roofing project’s commercial roof color.

The color of your commercial roof isn’t merely about aesthetics. Choosing between a white roof and a black roof membrane (or paint) can have a substantial effect on your bottom line, as well as extend the life-cycle of your roof system.

Correctly colored commercial roofs absorb or reflect heat, aiding in heating and cooling costs and improving the energy efficiency of your building. 

Read on to learn more in our quick and easy guide.

Your Commercial Roof Color Matters

The benefits associated with changing your commercial roof color are two-fold; first, you’ll reduce the strain on your wallet, and second, you’ll reduce stress on the environment. 

The environmental effect of roof color was reviewed in a study conducted by the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), aimed to “lessen the intensity of extreme heat events and save lives during such events” in the Boston and Chicago areas. Likewise, if the same study was conducted with warm roofs in colder climates, the researchers would likely come to a similar conclusion with black roofs

Essentially, choosing the right color roof for your specific climate allows you to take an active role in regulating your building’s ability to heat and cool itself effectively. 

White and Black Commercial Roofing Systems

How does roof color affect the system’s ability to heat and cool the property?

Let’s take a quick look at analyses of both white roofs and black roofs with commercial building applications in mind.  

White Roofs – Pros and Cons

As mentioned above, white roofs cool buildings by reflecting the sun’s energy. White roofing systems are typically made from TPO or PVC and installed as a flat roof, but are also available in other options (like commercial metal roofing).

These types of commercial roofs are commonly known as “cool roofs” because they reflect light, limiting the energy your building absorbs from solar energy. A white roof is typically only 20 degrees hotter than the air around it, and these roofing systems are especially popular in cities where urban heat island effects are an issue.

White Roofs in Colder Climates

Buildings in colder climates benefit the least from white roof coverings, because the sun’s energy reflects off the building and the central heating system isn’t supported as it tries to heat the building. 

This added stress on your heating system often leads to higher heating bills and unnecessary environmental pollution.

White roofs in colder climates may also encourage the accumulation of snow and ice. Because white commercial roofs don’t heat up as quickly, the snow may last longer on the rooftop. 

While white roofs can still benefit buildings in cooler climates, it’s important to discuss your needs and desired outcomes with a knowledgeable commercial roofing professional before making an investment in this type of system.

White Roofs in Warmer Climates

White roofs on commercial buildings become more compelling as you begin to consider locations with warmer year-round temperatures. 

Often, in areas with more warm days than cooler days, cooling a building is more common than heating it. To that end, white roofs are often recommended when needing to keep a building cool, and the benefits of a white roof in these applications should be immediate and obvious. 

White roof membranes and painted surfaces can also help to lower peak electricity demands and (big picture) lower power plant emissions.

Black Roofs – Pros and Cons

Black commercial roofs have excellent solar heating properties, allowing them to absorb energy and then translate that energy through the building. Black commercial roofs are typically made from rubber or EPDM roofing materials and are known as “warm roofs” (for good reason)! Aptly named, a building’s black membrane (a.k.a. warm roof) can be nearly 100 degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature on a hot day!

Black Roofs in Colder Climates

Black roofs are the inverse of white roofs in colder climates. They absorb energy (keeping buildings warmer), leading to lower energy costs and less environmental pollution during cool seasons.

Additionally, black roofs can be safer than cold roofs during winter months because snow and ice are less likely to form and accumulate on the surface. (This warming factor makes cleaning roofs during winter months more feasible, as well.) 

However, just like white roofs, a black roofing system’s impact is lessened if the roof gets extremely dirty and isn’t well-maintained.

Often, black EPDM roofs are a good choice for colder climates. But, depending on the slope of your roof and the location of your building, a commercial roofing contractor may have a variety of other suggestions for roofing solutions that will fit your individual needs.

Black Roofs in Warmer Climates

While they’ve been used for decades, black roofs may be losing ground when compared to white roofing systems when being installed in warmer climates. Why? Because black roofs can increase cooling expenses, and can add to urban heat island effects in highly populated areas. 

Other Commercial Building Factors To Consider

There are other factors that you need to consider when choosing the color you want to go with for your roofing system. Those reasons include:

  • Building proportions
  • Roof insulation
  • Other geographical factors (like region-specific extreme weather events)

These important factors, along with your region’s typical weather patterns, lay the groundwork for deciding which roofing system is best for your building (which includes the color)!

Get an Expert Opinion on Your Commercial Roof Color 

Now that you know a little more about the pros and cons of black and white roof membranes and coatings, it’s time to reach out to a contractor that can provide all the information and know-how to make the most informed decision for your commercial property.


Whether you’re considering EPDM, TPO or a metal roof for your building, we’re here to help. We’ll take a comprehensive look at your building, your local area’s climate, possible energy savings and more when recommending a new roof. TEMA is proud to be your trusted, experienced commercial roofing contractor partner, and we’re ready to answer your commercial roof color questions and discuss options. Reach out today