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What Is A Cool Roof?

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No, having a cool roof doesn't mean spray-painting Miles Davis on it or using your shingles to make a mosaic reproduction of a Picasso – although your neighbors would certainly be jealous! A cool roof is actually a specific term for roofs with properties that help them reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption. So how does a cool roof work and why would you want one?

What Makes A Cool Roof Cool

If you want a roof that's cool, you want it to absorb less heat from the sun than a traditional roof. A cool roof isn't made from a particular material, though – it's a way that the Environmental Protection Agency categorizes some roofing materials through the Energy Star program.

Think of the way that a white car reflects more sunlight and stays cooler in the summer than a black car – the color of the material changes its reflectivity. Cool roof materials are often made in colors that reflect lots of light. But even beyond that, they can also be made with special pigments that reflect infrared light – light that's invisible to the human eye but that still heats up a roof and building. This allows cool roofs to come in a variety of attractive colors.

Low-Slope Roofs: Often found on commercial buildings, flat and low-slope roofs generally don't need to be replaced to be made cool. Already-installed roofs are instead sprayed with a cement- or plastic-based coating that increases the reflectivity of the existing asphalt, metal, or other roofing material; sometimes, a thin membrane of reflective material is installed to cover the roof instead.

Steep-Slope Roofs: For the steep roofs found on most residential homes, cool roofing is generally accomplished by choosing the "cool" version of a traditional material – asphalt shingles manufactured to reflect sunlight, metal roofs that have reflective pigments, or clay tiles in sun-reflective colors. Unlike low-slope roofs, however, this usually means replacing the shingles on the roof rather than just coating the existing ones.

What Makes A Cool Roof Desirable

Cool roofs have benefits both for the people who own buildings, the people who live and work in them, and for society in general:

  • They reduce air conditing costs in hot weather
  • They help combat urban heat islands and cool down cities
  • They make the interiors of buildings more comfortable
  • They can help prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke during extreme heat waves
  • They lower energy use, leading to less air pollution
  • They help preserve the environment by reducing overall emissions

Knowing all that, it's pretty easy to see what makes these roofs so cool. To learn more, contact a company like with any questions or concerns you have.