Choosing the Best Exterior Paint Color
What color is it now?
Ask yourself what you like or dislike about the
current color(s), and why? Are they too dark or too light? Too
bright or too dull? Between the body color and the trim, are
there too many colors on the house, or perhaps not enough? A
good rule of thumb in your initial thinking about color is to
decide what you like and work from that palette of colors. Stay
Are their restrictions to worry about?
Some neighborhoods have restricted color choices,
and you may need to check with your homeowner’s association or
architectural review committee for approval before deciding on a
color. Certain historical neighborhoods also have restricted
color palettes from which to choose.
Keep the style of your home in mind:
Certain color schemes are better suited for certain
architectural styles than others. Southwestern stucco might do
best with monochrome whites or pastels, while your ornate
Victorian may look best with a coordinated set of three, four,
or even more colors. Most paint dealers can provide you with
color sample books that show coordinated groups of colors for
various styles of homes.
Look at your home’s prominent
For some types of homes, color may be dictated by such
highly visible and unchangeable components as brick or stone
veneers, or by the color of the roof.
Large or small?
Remember the basic rule of color — dark colors can
make a large house look smaller, while light color can make a
small house appear larger.
If you favor dark colors you need to keep in mind
that in harsh sunlight environments, they are more prone to
fading, and also absorb and hold in more heat. Very bright
colors are also much more prone to fading.
Light over dark:
If your existing house is a dark color and you want to
paint a light color over it, you’ll probably need to use a
primer first in order to get that lighter color to cover. While
this alone is not a reason to stay away from a lighter color
that you like, it’s important to know that you’ll probably be
facing some additional labor and material expense.
Break out the crayons:
When you have some color schemes in mind, a great
way to test things out is to sketch or photograph your house,
and then make several black and white photocopies of the picture
or drawing. Using colored pencils, paints, or crayons or other
art supplies, color in the photocopies and see what you like.
Try a computer program:
Many paint stores have sophisticated computer
programs for you to try out your color scheme. You’ll be
presented with a variety of house styles, and you begin by
selecting one that looks as close to the style of your home as
possible. Then, use the computer to color in the body of the
house, the trim, the doors, and other features. You can
instantly change colors on one or more parts of the house, and
you can use the computer’s suggestions for coordinating colors
or simply choose your own.
Buy a tester:
When you think you’ve got it nailed down, buy a
quart of each color and test them out on the house. Paint them
on in different areas, and avoid direct sunlight that can
somewhat distort your view of the color. Testers are cheap
insurance to see if you like the actual colors in their intended