Expert Advice for Picking the Best Exterior Paint Colors for Your Home

How To
Originally published by Redfin

A fresh paint job can do wonders for your home, from making your home’s features stand out to enhancing your exterior’s curb appeal. Your home’s exterior is a big canvas, which gives you the room to showcase your personality and make you feel content when you pull into your driveway. And, when you land on the best exterior paint color that brings out your home’s architecture, the potential rewards are valuable. But, with an array of colors to choose from, picking the best exterior paint colors can seem like an overwhelming task.

Whether you’re ready to tackle an entire upgrade or doing your due diligence before embarking on an exterior paint project, Redfin reached out to us and other paint color experts from Anaheim, CA, to Washington, D.C. to share our best advice to help guide you through
picking the best exterior paint colors that you – and your neighbors – will love.

Don’t jump straight into the painting

Start with the prep work

Cracked wood trim, old stucco, the use of a primer, and sanding off peeling paint are just as, if not as important as the paint color itself. Without good prep work, even the best exterior paint color won’t look good or last very long if this step isn’t taken. Do a walk-through with the potential painter to get estimates and discuss potential repairs. The use of wood filler for cracks in the trim or other wood accents, chalking, stucco removal, and re-texturing, and of course, sanding should be addressed as needed. The prep work should be itemized and included in the estimate. –Inspired Hue Consulting

Swatch your color choices with paint samples

The best way to love your exterior paint job is to sample at least three colors before painting with a large paintable clear film, like SureSwatch. The existing exterior color will affect the new color, and a clear film provides superior accuracy over white cardboard. –SureSwatch

Choose practical paint colors

Keep in mind that if you choose darker colors, they will fade faster because they absorb heat. Lighter colors reflect heat; hence they have more fade resistance. Consequently, it also helps energy bills in the summer to have a light-reflecting color on your home’s siding. –Spectrum Painting & Home Services 


Take note of your home’s exterior features

Consider elements that cannot be changed

It’s important to include your roof color, stone texture, and even your climate when picking the best exterior paint colors for your home. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many paint choices, keep it simple. –Richard’s Painting

Work from the top down, starting with your roof

Always start with the roof color. When choosing the best exterior paint color, try to make sure your roof is mostly solid colored and not blotchy, especially if you have stone on the exterior. Here are some paint color recommendations based on your roof’s color:

  • If you have a brown roof color, stick with cream colors, not bright whites or fresh colors. Brown roofs also work great with earthy colors.
  • Black and charcoal (pewter gray) roofs work best with whites and fresh color palettes.
  • For brick homes, try a black or charcoal paint color.
  • If you have stone on your home’s exterior, the best colors that will work are green grays, such as Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter or Benjamin Moore Pashmina.

Kelly Bernier Designs

Highlight your home’s strongest architectural features with a bold pop of color

Go neutral with your overall wall color but accent bold graphic lines like an A-frame roof, post and beam front porch, or overhanging eaves, and rafters with a contrasting shade or vibrant chroma for eye-catching curb appeal. –Lily Spindle

Factor in the color of any hardscape surrounding the home

Be sure to factor in the color of any hardscape surrounding the home, like walkways and steps, any stone or brick on the foundation, facade, or chimney stack, and the roof color when choosing the best exterior paint color. The siding color you choose should blend with all of these. If you’re using white as a siding or trim color, make sure not to use a cold, bright white as it will be too stark. –Amy Krane Color

Trusty color combos to use when picking the best exterior paint colors

Go natural

Your home’s exterior paint color should feel natural like it has always belonged there. Take cues from surrounding views. If the home is near the seacoast, call to mind the ocean’s blues and greens. Choose a sandy white, then accent the architecture in a rich teal blue to make it the best possible. Another tried and true color palette that stands the test of time is white and gray together. Strike a proper balance between this neutral palette with a contrasting color on your front door in a high gloss finish to capture the home’s essence to convey a welcoming aesthetic. –Audrey Interiors

Use existing elements for color inspiration

If you have stone or brick details, make sure you choose a beige with a green undertone or a greige. Create contrast with your window trim and door colors – if your frames are a bright white, then choose an off-white to soften the contrast slightly. –Bibby Fine Interiors

Timeless colors are often the best exterior paint colors

We’ve found that the best exterior color combination to enhance your home’s exterior is Benjamin Moore’s Briarwood for the house’s body, Sailcloth for the trim, and Black Forest Green to accent shutters and doors. This combination gives a warm and inviting first impression and stands the test of time. –Cobb Brothers Co.

Trends to consider

Use contrasting neutral colors

A huge trend I’ve noticed this year for exteriors is contrasting neutrals – bright white colors as the base and dark charcoals for the details to complement the white. This color scheme seems basic and simple, but the contrast really draws one’s eye to the home and can modernize any home style when done correctly. I especially love when I see clients do something fun with the front door, like painting it in a bright cerulean or warm red color. It really makes any home stand out in the simplest way. –Erica Celine Design

Don’t be afraid to play with color on the outside of your home

Assess the architectural elements first. Notice your roof color, stonework, brick, or grout lines, and use those tones as a departure point. Many of my clients have brick homes or shingled Victorians in the Boston area, but choosing the right exterior palette can instantly make these houses feel modern and fresh, from black trim with glossy teal front doors to dark green shingles with lighter green trim and eggplant purple entry. But above all else, be bold, stick with what you love, and try it out. –Cecilia Casagrande

Make your front entrance a focal point

Set the tone for the rest of your home by starting at the front door

Let your front door do the talking. Painting your front door is a quick and inexpensive way to make a great first impression and add instant curb appeal to your home. Consider a black, red, or navy blue door for a timeless and classic look. If you want to inject a fun pop of color that reflects your personality, a yellow, orange, or teal door are great color options. -Fresh Look Colour Consulting

Showcase your personality

When choosing an exterior paint scheme, it is important to put your own personality into it. Making your front entrance a focal point is a great way to add a pop of color while still complementing the rest of your home. –River City Painting

Go bold with your color choices

Give your home some pizazz by painting your front door a bold, or at least interesting, color. Consider a bright royal blue if your house is brick, a lemon yellow or dark orange if your house has gray shingles, and any color at all if it’s white clapboard. Fine Paints of Europe can match colors from any paint manufacturer, and they offer a really durable, high-gloss finish that’s fabulous for exterior doors. –Annie Elliot Design

Stick to tried and true neutrals

Stick with a neutral color for your home’s exterior and save the flashy, more daring color for your front door. It’s much easier and cheaper to repaint a door than the entire house. A bold front door can also tie the entire project together, making your home the sharpest on the block. –Ameri-Pro Paint

Find inspiration from your surroundings

Look to your immediate surroundings for color direction

Start by considering your exterior elements such as the undertones in your roof color, the foliage of your landscaping, or if you have a decorative tile at your front porch landing.

I recommend selecting a color palette that will create contrast and compliment your existing surroundings. For example, if you have bright-colored flowering plants within the landscape, then a bright white or soft grey color will provide a nice backdrop with the colorful foliage. –Cameron Getter Design

Survey your neighborhood

Picking the best exterior paint colors for one’s home really doesn’t adhere to any hard and fast rules, it’s all conditional. What are the surroundings; are they suburban and wooded, or near downtown city hot spots and thus trendier than most? The bright, energetic colors that may work in one setting might be considered garish in another. Is the home due to go up for sale in the near or not so distant future? If so, we would want to go with almost neutral earth tones accented with blues and grays. If the home is outfitted with a red brick façade, we might lean into various shades of green and yellow/orange hues that are complementary to that red brick. –McLean Company 

Study the lighting

Selecting the best exterior paint color can be challenging if you don’t consider the amount of sun exposure your home gets during the day. Depending on the day, your home could be in the shade, and that can make your color choice look completely different. You may want to consider going a shade lighter or darker to achieve that perfect exterior color. If you are not sure, paint a few samples and view them at different times of the day to make sure it’s the perfect fit for your home. –Mohindroo Interiors

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Not feeling confident about picking the best exterior paint color? Ask a paint specialist for help. They will ask questions to define your goals, narrow the range of options, and show colors that fit your home’s style. It’s always important to find a color that you love. –Mallory Paint Store


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