Choose Exterior Paint Colors

6 Tips to Choose Exterior Paint Colors

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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If you’re planning on a project to repaint your home, along with choosing reputable professionals, you need to choose your colors. Painting an interior room is tough enough on its own, but your exterior colors can be an overwhelming task. Your exterior paint colors need to work for your style of home and your neighborhood. 

You need to also consider any regulations or rules if you live in a community with an HOA. 

The following are six things to keep in mind as you’re selecting exterior paint colors

1. Choose a Color Scheme

A color scheme for your exterior is when you select three colors that are going to complement one another. You want the options in your color scheme to be cohesive and tie together with one another. 

For example, a blue color scheme can work well for your exterior. You can choose a shade of white with blue undertones and then give it a pop of color with a bright blue door. 

A neutral color palette can look refined and polished. Maybe you use beige as your main paint color, and then you use bolder, more dramatic neutrals like black and white for the front door and trim. 

If you want to do a monochromatic color scheme, you can choose a single hue, but then choose one accent piece, like your front door, and use the same color but do it a darker or lighter hue. 

You can also go for something more unexpected. For example, maybe your home is white, and then you use an unexpected twist like lavender for your shutters. Your shutters and front door, in general, are great places to add color. 

2. Check Your Neighborhood Rules and Regulations

As mentioned above, if you live somewhere with an HOA or any kind of guidelines, you need to check and see what you’re allowed to paint your house. A lot of HOAs won’t let homeowners paint their homes bright, loud or unusual colors because they want everything to look uniform. 

At the same time, some HOAs won’t let you paint your house the exact same colors as your neighbors. The HOA might want it similar but not exact. 

You may need to ask permission before painting your home’s exterior as well. 

3. Consider Your Existing Stone or Brick

If your house has stone or brick that exists and won’t be painted, this is going to drive your paint choices significantly. A lot of homes will have sides that are faced in stone or brick, and you want to coordinate first and foremost with these surfaces that will stay unpainted. 

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A good way to figure out what’s going to coordinate and complement unpainted areas is by considering undertones. Undertones range from pink-beige to blue-gray. 

Whatever the undertones are will help guide your paint color decision. 

You don’t have to match your paint with the undertone, but you want to try and ensure they either share the same undertone or they coordinate well together. 

4. Think Carefully About Unusual Colors

Even if you don’t have an HOA, you should be careful about choosing very loud or unusual colors. These colors, like maybe hot pink or turquoise, can work well in certain places, such as beach houses. 

If you’re in a typical suburban environment, what might seem like a good idea initially can quickly turn into regret if you go too crazy with your exterior colors. Then you might end up paying for a second exterior paint job. 

The more muted, the better for exteriors in almost all cases. 

5. If You Want White, Don’t Choose Bright White

When you’re thinking about a white home, which is especially beautiful for colonial-style houses, you might think you choose an actual white color. Colors are much brighter when they’re outside. You don’t want your house to end up being like a reflector. Instead, choose a color that’s two or three steps down if you’re looking at a deck of paint samples from the actual white you like. 

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If you browse online photos and see beautiful white houses, they’re probably beige, creamy white, or a gray-beige rather than true, bright white. 

6. Test Your Colors

Finally, get at least three sample colors once you’ve narrowed down your choices. Paint them on poster boards and take them outside. You should evaluate each in the full sun and the shade and also hold them up against your unpainted stone and brick. You want to see what your color choices look like in the natural elements.

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Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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