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How to Choose an Exterior Paint Color for your Home

A person holding a paint color chart, and a paint tray and roller in the background.
Mint Images / Getty

One of the biggest characteristics of your home’s style is its exterior paint colors. While the decor comes with the house, choosing an exterior paint color is up to you! For some choosing an exterior house paint color is an exciting DIY project, while others may find the task to be daunting. Unlike the interior of your home, your exterior house colors should complement neighboring homes but still retain its unique character. Here are five tips on how to choose an exterior paint color for your home.  

1. Keep your location in mind

If your home is located in the tropics, colors are usually bright, playful, and cheery. While homes that are located in the rustic mountains will take color cues from nature in browns, greens, and burgundy.  Before you get your heart set on an exterior color, observe the color palette of the geographic area where you live.

“One universal piece of advice when picking out your exterior paint color is to take a look at your neighbor’s home,” says Lauren Busser, Editorial Director for The House Designers. “You want a home that shows off your personal taste but you don’t want it to stick out too much from your neighbors.” Straying too far away will make your house stand out, and not for the better.

2. Stick to your neighborhood’s architectural colors

Row of homes
GaryAlvis / Getty

In historic neighborhoods, the colors have been predetermined and should be followed as close as possible. Similarly, for newer modern homes and older Victorian homes, the architectural style and time period will also help you define exterior colors to choose from.  Owner of Richard Taylor Architects, Richard Taylor says, “The two most important considerations in choosing a color scheme (after the existing roof color) are the architecture of the house and the neighborhood context.”

If you need assistance in choosing, the majority of paint stores will carry paint manufacturer lines of varying architectural periods for you to choose from. If you know your specific architectural period, you can research palettes online.

3. Look at your neighbor’s houses

Male couple admiring two-story house in their neighbourhood
JohnnyGreig / Getty

Your neighborhood has a big effect on your home’s exterior. Take a look at the color palettes, trim colors, and accent features in your neighborhood. You don’t have to match your neighbors but staying in the same color family is a good idea. 

“Make an effort to match your own paint color scheme to the neighborhood,” says The Painting Craftsmen, “While you don’t want to use the same exact colors, or even the same color scheme as your next-door neighbors, you also don’t want to choose colors that will clash with their houses.” Keep in mind that certain colors can make your property value go down when selling your home.  Above all, a neighborhood that looks unified is a more pleasant one to live in.

4. Consider your roof color

Painter working at roofline
bmcent1 / Getty

 Believe it or not, your roof color and material need to be considered with your exterior house color. Choose your main exterior house color for your home and then choose a roof color that compliments it.  Also consider the sun reflectance where you live. Hotter climates should opt for lighter roofs, even terra cotta tiles or standing seam metal roofs will reflect more light. 

“Until you look carefully at the hues of your roof’s shingles, you may not even realize that your roof contains so many different colors,” says CertaPro Painters. “Choosing one or two of those undertones to blend well with your exterior paint color is crucial to a cohesive exterior look and great curb appeal.” Colder climates can opt for darker roofs in slate, copper, or asphalt shingles.

5. Hunt for inspiration

Look online, through magazines, or other neighborhoods in your city for inspiration.  Snap photographs, tear out pictures, and then bring them to your home to see how it will fit in with your surroundings. Once you’ve decided on a color palette, ask the paint store for smaller samples to bring home and try out on a small section of your exterior.  Let the paint dry 24 hours and see if you like it.

The bottom line

Exterior house colors are extremely versatile in color selection, but home owners to be mindful of their surroundings. Choose exterior paint colors that compliment your neighbor’s geographic location and architectural time period. Don’t be afraid to try out some new paint colors – your home and family deserve a change.

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