Exterior Paint Guide: Choosing a Color

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso

Image via

Deciding on which color to paint your house is no light decision to make – you (and your neighbors) have to look it at it everyday. Before committing to a certain scheme, be mindful of your home’s surroundings. Depending on your color choice, the landscape and nearby homes will either clash or agree harmoniously with your property. Read our guide to exterior paint below to find the best palette for your domain.

For a more in-depth look at exterior painting best practices, stay tuned for our other guides: FAQ, Products, Proper Painting, and New Paint Types.

Picking the Right Color

We all have one or two favorite colors, but keep your home and its surroundings in mind when committing to a shade.  

House: Pick a paint that complements the existing colors on the house, such as a honey hue on a cedar-shingle roof, red on a brick foundation, or gray on a stone stoop.

Neighborhood: Survey your block. Painting your house a tropical turquoise among a sea of gray and beige will make it stand out—in a bad way. A muted blue or green would be a better fit but still distinguish it.

Landscape: For instance, a light green may fit in perfectly on a property that’s thick with trees and sun-dappled shade, while a burnt amber hue would complement the deserts of the southwest.

Weather: The more south you go, the more sun you get. So don’t hold back on using bright, saturated colors that won’t wash out in the intense sunlight. Up north where the landscapes turn leafless in the winter and the skies are grey, cool toned hues make a great choice.


Multi-Hue Schemes

Image via

A varied palette will further add depth and character to your home. Use a mix of hues within a monochromatic scheme or make a statement with complementary colors.  

Consider the components. Think of your home as the sum of three parts: the body (siding), the trim (window and door casings, fascias), and the movable elements (windows, doors, and shutters). Give each part its own color. Entry doors in a separate accent color add drama to an otherwise plain facade.

Highlight levels and textures. A change in siding from clapboards on the first floor to shingles on the second or in the gables, for instance, is an invitation to introduce another body color. Accent colors can also play up banding, half-timbering, and other decorative trim, such as the turnings on the eaves brackets seen above.

Make good use of darks and lights. Dark colors are perceived as weighty, so they work well on a foundation or a lower story to anchor a house to the ground. Lighter hues on an upper story draw the eye up and set off the roof and its shaded eaves.

Go online. Using paint-company color selectors, upload a shot of your house, then drag and drop swatches to create a desirable scheme. But before you invest in gallons, brush sample colors on primed 2-by-2-foot medium-density fiberboard panels and view them against each side of the house to make sure you’re happy with the hues.

This information originally appeared in This Old House magazine. Author //  Thomas Baker

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso
Dani is House One’s assistant editor. As a Norwalk, CT native, Dani graduated from UConn with a BA in Digital Media and Design. This millennial longs for the days of All That, Tamagotchis, and Dunkaroos. When she’s not working, she’s hanging outdoors, playing with her dogs, or watching makeup tutorials on YouTube.

More to love