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How to select a paint color for your home’s exterior

Is your home ready for a touch-up? If you’ve decided it’s time for a fresh coat of paint to protect the structure of your home and boost your curb appeal, you’ll need to brainstorm exterior home paint ideas. Choosing the right color can be a difficult decision since you’ll be living with the results for several years. Try these tips to select a hue you’ll be happy to call home.

Consider permanent elements

Choose a paint color that works with the underlying structure of your home. Try to create harmony between brick, stone, tile, cement and other materials by looking for the shared undertones.

For example, if you want a gray exterior and your brick hardscaping has red undertones, choose a cool, blue-toned gray for contrast or a warmer gray with brownish undertones for a sleek, minimal effect.

Size matters

The size of your home also plays a role. If you have a large home, lighter colors will look welcoming while darker colors can be intimidating. On the other hand, darker shades lend gravitas to small homes, which can look insubstantial when painted in light hues.

Think in threes

Most homes work well with three exterior paint colors:

  • The field, which is the main shade and dominant color
  • The trim, which is the color used for elements such as the fascia, corner boards and rake
  • The accent color, used to highlight architectural elements such as shutters and doors

Many homeowners opt for contrasting field and trim colors paired with a contrasting accent color. White trim will pop on a dark-colored home, while dark trim highlights the special features of a light-colored home.

Start with that simple formula, or opt for a tried-and-true option with one of these popular palettes:

  • Dove gray field with white trim and deep slate blue accents
  • Dark blue field with cream colored trim and muted green accents
  • Cream field with sage green trim and yellow accents

Delve into history

If you have an older home or simply want to honor traditional color schemes, consider choosing a historically accurate shade. Research paint color charts from the time your home was built. Some manufacturers have special lines with era-specific shades.

Keep in mind that more complex architectural styles, such as Victorian homes, require up to six paint colors to truly reflect their original appearance.

Even if you don’t opt for truly vintage shades, you should still consider architecture style when picking your exterior paint color. Look for inspiration photos that feature homes with similar styles.

Coordinate with neighbors

Your home doesn’t need to be a cookie-cutter version of your neighbors, but you also shouldn’t choose a completely clashing color. After all, you both have to live with the results. Try to select a palette that looks pleasing in the context of your neighborhood.

Many modern housing developments are managed by an association, which often has rules about the paint colors you can use for the home’s exterior. You might need to get approval of your hue from this group before moving forward.

Go digital

Many paint manufacturers offer color visualization tools. You can upload a photo of your home and digitally try out different hues to find one you love. This is also useful to see how trim and accent colors work with your main shade.

Practical matters

If durability is your priority when it comes to exterior paint, this will inform your color choice. Colors that are very bright or very dark tend to fade more quickly than muted or light hues.

Dark colors also absorb heat, which can be an energy issue if you live a warm climate. Because they fade in the sun, it can be difficult to match the color if you need a touch-up. Many homeowners appreciate that dark colors hide dust and dirt, however.

Although you may be set on a specific shade, it’s important to be aware of these maintenance issues before moving forward.

It’s also important to consider the finish of your exterior paint. Many professionals recommend a flat finish for walls and semi-gloss paint for trim. Glossy colors tend to show imperfections such as brush strokes, but they are also easier to clean than matte shades.

When you’ve narrowed your possible palettes to a few options, consult with professional exterior home painters. They have the knowledge and experience necessary to recommend the best exterior colors and high-quality paint for your property.