Your Roof and Oxidizing Copper

Not too long ago a homeowner contacted us with a question about selecting a roof color for the new home he is having built. He is in the process of selecting materials and knew he wanted to include the copper patina tiles shown below.

Chart of Colors of Copper Patina at different stages of the aging process

Our homeowner also knew he wanted lightweight roof tiles but he thought his choice would be limited to the green or gray imitation shake or synthetic slate roofing. Since the copper is being installed with the patina already applied the roof will not change color further so he certainly could select a green or gray tile to harmonizes with the copper but these are not his only choices and for a homeowner who is going to install copper and let it age naturally they might not be the best color choices.

Copper oxidizes when it is exposed to the elements. Rather than rust it morphs from a shiny yellow-orange to deep brown then green and finally becomes dull bluish-green. As the process occurs the copper is developing what is known as patina. Copper patina is called verdigris. The term comes from the French phrase “verte grez”.

The chart above I designed based on information from Denninger a company that produces copper weather vanes and finials. It shows how the color naturally advances from raw copper to chocolaty-brown to dark verdis to the almost white of a truly aged copper decoration. According to Denninger in some geographic locations, copper will patina faster, or with a different hue than what is shown. Look for examples in your area to help give you an idea about what colors to expect.

Lightweight Roofing Solutions in Brown

Bellaforté Slate by DaVinci shown Dark New Cedar, Dark Autumn, Dark Amber

The homeowner could use any of the warm shake or slate tiles that have cooper-y undertones.  I have shown a few that might work well above. Any of these will blend well with copper. You can see how well the tiles below work with the cooper above at each stage of the patina process.

The warm undertones of these Bellaforté tiles are an excellent choice for homes with copper details. Even though the product our homeowner has chosen already has the patina when installed the same thinking can apply whether the copper took 20+ years to reach the patina or was installed new with a “pre-aged” finish. This is because the based color of the copper continues to influence the surface color.

The same line of thinking can apply to any metal that has a finish or patina. The color change is most pronounced with copper but consider the original color as an option when creating a scheme for any metal details on your home inside or out.


Kate Smith
Color Expert Kate Smith lends her expertise to DaVinci Roofscapes; a company that has manufactured award-winning synthetic slate and shake roofing since 1999. The polymer roofing tiles are virtually maintenance free and far more cost effective than the natural product. DaVinci leads the industry in tile thickness, the tile width variety and the greatest selection of subtle earth-toned colors. Company products have a 50-year warranty and are 100 percent recyclable.