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Home Tips: Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

Choosing exterior paint colors for your home can be nerve-wracking. The color of the exterior of your house is one of the most public design decisions you will ever make.

Given the fact that it will add value and beauty to your home, outdoor paint color plays an essential role in how potential buyers will perceive your house. If you get it right, your home will look naturally beautiful. If you get the color wrong, your home will become an eyesore in the neighborhood. But with thousands of exterior paint colors available, it can be a daunting task to choose the right one for your walls.

Below are some helpful tips to get you started with the confidence that the final paint job is one that you—and your neighbors—will be pleased with.

Common mistakes homeowners make when choosing exterior paint colors:

  • Accenting unattractive elements such as gutters, downspouts, a protruding garage door, air conditioning units, unevenly placed windows, etc.
  • Ignoring neighboring houses: your color scheme choice should not clash with the neighbor’s house — it’s a lose-lose situation. Choose a scheme that blends with the neighborhood or stands out in a subtle, unobtrusive manner.
  • Landscaping counts: consider trees that change color, flowering shrubs, flower gardens when selection colors, for compatibility. Heavily wooded lots will make colors look darker due to shade; also could camouflage homes, so attention to detail is needed. Greens are not a good choice in this situation.

Opportunities commonly missed when selecting and placing colors on home exteriors:

  • Color makes a first impression, an individual statement and can enhance curb appeal and even resale value; a creative scheme versus the more typical white could be an opportunity to make that first impression.
  • Don’t overlook interesting architectural detailing; it can often sparkle with a contrasting or accent color.
  • Be observant: drive through various neighborhoods, established and new, to see color in action. Make note of appealing color schemes and consider adapting them to your own home.
  • Assuming no structural work is needed, color/paint is the most cost-effective approach to changing the appearance of a home.
  • Define the entryway by using color as a “Welcome” sign.
  • Windows are an opportunity: they give character to a house. Outlining them lends crispness to the color scheme.

Steps homeowners should take to eliminate surprises and gain confidence with color:

  • Consider the colors that can’t change (for example, elements such as roofing shingles, and brick, slate, and stone accents or features) and use these elements as color resources because there are numerous shades and hues in building materials. A charcoal gray shingle for example could have flecks of gray-green or gray blue that could be found on a paint color strip or incorporated into the color scheme.
  • Examine color samples outdoors, at various angles and different times of the day. Consider buying small quantities of desired colors and paint a section of the house where body, trim and accent colors can be viewed together.
  • Pay attention to geography, specifically the intensity of the sun. Intense sun washes out colors, so brighter colors are suitable in sunbelt areas but might stand out like a sore thumb in northern locations.

A few rules about color placement on a home:

  • A large home on a small lot painted white or a light color – for instance, a tinted neutral – can make the house seem larger and the lot seem smaller. Dark colors can make a home look smaller but more substantial.
  • A safe and effective approach to color placement is to select two tints or shades from the same color strip a few shades apart. Either the lighter or the darker shade could be used for the body and the opposite for the trim. A contrasting accent color could punctuate the door. Lighter colors on a porch will make a home feel more “approachable” and welcoming.
  • Height can be scaled down by painting the upper portion of a tall house a deeper tone than the bottom portion (reverse trim color). This is also effective on a small lot or when landscaping is immature. Conversely, a darker color on the lower portion grounds the house to the earth.
  • Light or white is a good choice for windowsills for reflection of the sun’s heat and light. Light colors advance in space; dark colors recede. If a house is placed far away from the curb, painting it a light color will visually bring it forward.
  • Be judicious with accent colors, but certainly accentuate the positive.

Why are white and light colors so popular?

Traditionally, white and light colors were perceived to be safe choices. However, as consumers have gained more confidence with color, and as a broader spectrum of colors have been made available for exterior use, those “traditional” approaches are changing. Today, tinted neutrals that play off landscaping and other building materials are increasingly being used, as are mid-tone values of neutrals.

-Content for this post is from the Color Experts at Sherwin-Williams: Exterior Color Selection Tips for Homeowners

Zoe’s ProEdge Painting specializes in all areas of paint preparation, interior/exterior painting and staining. Call or text 860-834-5500 for a free estimate on your next project.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I did appreciate it when you said that one way to choose a good exterior color for my home is by driving around the neighborhood and take note of the color schemes that I think will work well with my house. Choosing the right paint color is not my forte, so it might be a good idea to try this out. I also think it will work if I asked a professional to choose the paint and do the job for me, after all, they are experts. I'll weigh my options.

    1. Agreed! We also love taking note of great exterior colors as we work in a variety of neighborhoods. As a professional painting company, we have ample experience choosing/pairing colors and have a good idea of what will work and what doesn't for a particular exterior.

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