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Choosing an Exterior Paint Color

Choosing an Exterior Paint Color

Choosing an exterior paint color is a big deal; it's a first impression and an individual statement. Paint is the most cost-effective approach to changing the appearance of a home and can take your home from drab to fab in just a few coats. The color of your home can enhance curb appeal and even resale value. Read these tips on how to pick an exterior paint color that will be right for you.

Start at the Roof

When beginning the process to choose exterior paint colors, you must consider what cannot be changed. Unless you plan on re-roofing your house, the roof, any stone, bricks, or copper probably won't be painted over. The color palette you end up choosing should complement these things. For example, if you have a red roof or a brick wall on your house, you wouldn't paint your house red.

Accent Colors

It is great to use a pop of color to accent things on your house but make sure you are accenting the right things. You don't want to attract more attention to unattractive elements such as gutters, downspouts, a protruding garage door, air conditioning units, unevenly placed windows, etc. This will draw people's eyes to the flaws of your home rather than the beauty. A contrasting accent color could punctuate the door. Lighter colors on a porch will make a home feel more ‘approachable' and welcoming. 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. Be judicious with accent colors, but certainly accentuate the positive.

Neighboring Houses

Although you do not have to match with your neighbors exactly, it is considerate to make sure that the color you choose doesn't clash with the rest of the street. Choosing a color scheme that doesn't fit the overall look of the neighborhood is a lose-lose situation. You risk upsetting your neighbors and or devaluing your house. Try to choose a scheme that blends with the neighborhood or stands out in a subtle, unobtrusive manner. You want to blend in, not be the sore thumb on the street.


Most people don't think the landscape matters but it shouldn't be ignored. Houses with a lot of greenery should probably stay away from green hues. Just like heavily wooded areas need to be aware that colors look darker due to shade. Make sure you take this into consideration before getting serious about certain colors.

Take a Drive

Be observant. Drive through a few different neighborhoods to see some color in action. Jot down color schemes that are appealing to you. If you don't feel too creepy, take a picture on your phone. That way when you go into your local home improvement store, they will be able to see what you are talking about. Also, when looking at other houses pay attention to the color of the trim and front door. This will help you see what you like and don't like on real life examples.

Time of Day

Make sure you look at color samples outdoors, at various angles and different times of the day. All of these factors matter and will help you make a decision. Take the sun into consideration as well because in areas where the sun is intense, your colors may fade or wash out. It is best to buy small quantities of desired colors and paint a section of the house where body, trim and accent colors can be viewed together. This is the best way to see your paint in action.

Color Tricks

Neutral colors can make a large home on a small lot seem larger on an even smaller lot. 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. 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." For more tips and tricks, click here.


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