5 Easy Tips for Choosing Exterior Paint Colors
Buy a quart of paint and test it on an inconspicuous area of your home. Study it at various times of day and under different weather conditions. How does it change with the light? Road testing it is the only way to determine for sure if you’ll be happy with it for years to come.
Unlike interior colors, exterior hues can affect the entire street — and that puts a lot of pressure on homeowners when it comes to choosing a palette. In addition, a number of factors come into play that you don’t have to deal with on the inside of a house: landscaping, hardscaping, roofing and more.
Follow these tips to choose a color scheme that works both for your style and for your home’s surroundings.
Look for undertones between them that might inform your palette. Are they warm (beige, khaki, brown and rust) or cool (gray, blue and black)? Consider paint colors that will tie these fixed elements together in a harmonious way.
Many paint manufacturers offer collections of historically accurate colors, which can be an excellent springboard for your palette, and you can also consult a professional who specializes in this area. You don’t have to adhere strictly to historical guidelines unless codes for your home and neighborhood specify otherwise, but for the most pleasing effect, don’t stray too far from them.
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Ideally, the trim color should contrast strongly with the field color. If your main hue is dark, consider classic white trim or another pale shade. A light field color can look stunning with darker trim — like eyeliner for your home, it produces a crisp, dramatic effect. Feel free to go bold with accent colors, but don’t go overboard. A door painted bright red or lemon yellow lends just the right hit of punch. Extending that same shade to the shutters and gables … not so much.
Stuck for inspiration? Most major paint brands offer preselected color palettes that take the guesswork out of coordinating an exterior scheme. An architect or a color consultant also can help you come up with a combination that’s unusual but still attractive.