House Painting
6 Steps to Choosing the Best Exterior Paint Colors

Does choosing the right exterior paint color seem more like a chore than a fun project? In this article we’ll cover the main things you need to think about in order to make the very most of what you have. You’ll feel confident as you head to the store to buy those cans of paint. However, first, you’ll have a plan based on what you’ll learn here.

Your home is probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make. So you want to show your pride of ownership. One way is to begin with the outside of your home. The exterior paint colors are the foundation of your outside decor. It can be easy to make color mistakes if you’re not experienced. So let’s get started on the things you need to know to avoid exterior paint color disasters.


Choosing a shade means you want to figure out if you will have a light, mid-tone or dark color for the main body of the home. Just do that one thing first. Then we’ll move to step #2.

Are you wondering which way to go on that? Many people know right away. They’ve walked the neighborhood, seen other homes, and know what they want. For those of you who do not have that clarity I suggest you go to Pinterest and look around for some ideas. Simply open Pinterest and search on ‘exterior paint color’ for some ideas.


The roof color is not something you change very often. A roof will usually last 20-30 years. So that is a constant color choice that needs to be considered unless you are re-roofing the house. If the roof is a grey tone you can do just about anything color-wise because grey is a neutral color. But if it’s brown or tan you want to avoid green or blue colors in your exterior house paint. If youre roof has red, tan, green or blue gray undertones then that will need to be factored in. You can always get some paint color chips at the local hardware store to lay them out side-by-side as you start to make some decisions. You are beginning to create an exterior paint color palette.

In addition to the roof color, you many have other things on your home that cannot be changed. Brick or stone or other things on the home that you are not going to paint are some of those things. If you’re brick or stone has orange tones you will want to avoid choosing a color that would clash with that like red tones or purpley-blue colors. Stay more neutral in your choices. If the brick is grey/black you can do anything, just like when the roof color is a grey/black color.

So take into consideration when choosing exterior paint colors:

  • the roof color
  • the brick work
  • other facets of your home that are unchangeable or that you are not going to change.

Then, go get those colors on paint chips from the paint store. Put them next to your choices for a base color and then have fun choosing the accent color that you can use on the door or shutters, or both. Warm colors are ones like yellow, orange and red. Even if they are just shades of those colors you still need to take that into consideration.

Brown is a combination of red and orange with black added to it. As long as you choose a paint color for the body of the home that has a very slight hint of the brick/stone undertone color, you shouldn’t have any clashing issues. If you have a brownish roof and/or brownish bricks you can still choose grey but warm it up a bit with a bit of orange or red tint to blend it. If the grey has blue undertones you will probably clash the colors.


Light will dramatically impact the color you’ve painted your house. When you are painting the inside of your house this is not an issue. So if you plan on using warm colors try going two to three shades warmer than what you had originally planned. That allows for the light to bring the color into the shade you were hoping for. Ask your paint specialist to help you choose a color that factors in this light issue. This is even true if you want your exterior paint color base to be white. If you don’t warm it up your home will have a blue cast that will look cold.


So you’ve picked a paint color for the exterior of the home. You think it’s going to look great but please check it out during various times of the day. The light shifts as the sun moves across the sky. Go out at morning, noon and later in the afternoon. Take notes about what you see. How is the light changing? You’ll notice that the sun will pull out the undertones in the paint sample that you may not have recognized inside or in different lighting.

You can also get actual paint samples and use them on a portion of your home where the sun will allow you to see the different effects of light. Painting your home is a big, expensive job. Don’t skip these simple, yet time consuming, steps. You want to enjoy your home’s new color for years to come!


This is the fun part! So you’ve determined your base color. You know it goes well with the roof and other non-changeable aspects of your home. You want to go wild with accents but consider dialing it back a notch. A splash of color is fine but having cars driving off the road to look at what you’ve done is not what you want. Sometimes the architecture detail on your home can shine with just a bit of color but get buried with too much color. Too much high-impact color can actually detract from the architectural details.

Most people go with contrasting colors. If the base of the home is white or light they contrast with a dark color for the accents and visa versa. With a mid-toned body color, I recommendation a trim color based on the design of the home. Modern homes can use a darker, more impactful trim. Conversely a traditional home with a mid-tone base look great with white trim.


So you’re having a lot of fun choosing your exterior house paint color. Yes, it’s fun!!! But a mild warning here… if you use more than 2-3 colors the look will be too busy. So try and limit your choice to 2 colors and maybe something different for the front door. Keep the details of the house muted, they don’t stand out if painted a bright color, in fact the opposite happens. You can always add a new door color every year. Let that be your fun and keep the house painted so you won’t get tired of it after only a few years.

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