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Tips for Choosing the Right Exterior Paint Color

Painting a room can be stressful, but choosing exterior house paint colors is downright intimidating. In all aspects—time, money, and curb presence—it's a big task. Luckily, some carefully considered steps can help you successfully navigate the job.

What exactly should you keep top of mind when selecting exterior paint for your home? According to designers, there are several factors that you'll want to prioritize before committing to a new color. After all, exterior paint is more of a long-term commitment than indoor paint, and we all know the importance of our homes making an excellent first impression on the street. If you're preparing to paint your home in the near future, you would not want to miss reading the following tips that will ensure the smooth process of your exterior painting.


Unless you’re doing a complete renovation, surfaces such as roof shingles or tiles, stonework, pathways and driveways will remain in place. Take these into consideration as you select exterior colors.

Look for undertones between them that inform your palette. Are they warm (beige, khaki, brown and rust) or cool (gray, blue and black)? Consider paint colors that will tie these fixed elements together in a harmonious way.

Although you need not be hidebound by tradition, a home's style does lend some guidance when you're choosing exterior paint colors. An exuberant collection of pastels may not be the best fit for a ranch-style home, while very bold hues may feel out of place on a Victorian.

As much as your home provides inspiration, your neighborhood may also offer revelations concerning possible paint colors. Do you live in an area of historic homes or a newer suburb with some dominant themes? Use those to give you a starting point.

Match it Up!

While scoping out the neighborhood can be helpful, you'll also want to evaluate your interiors. Look at the inside of your home to see what would go with the exterior paint choice. It's nice to have a cohesive feel with the interior when it comes to the exterior color; after all, your exterior paint color makes the first impression! It helps set the narrative. For example, if you have dark greens throughout your house, then considering something in that family of colors will make your exterior feel homier.

Plus, in some cases, you may be able to see your exterior paint from indoor rooms, and you won't want the overall result to clash. Your inside and outside needn't match, simply pay attention to bold color choices and make sure you can live with them for the long haul.

Your decorating style also shapes what exterior paint color is best suited for your home. If your style is traditional, go for warm neutrals alongside a deep green, black, or navy door and shutters. Transitional decorators may opt for cool neutrals paired with charcoal or purple-based black doors and shutters, and contemporary enthusiasts will want to keep neutral tones in heavy rotation outside.

Test it out

Like interior colors, exterior shades can vary significantly from how they appear on the chip. And because painting an exterior is a more significant undertaking than simply painting a room, you’ll want to get them right the first time.

Buy a quart of paint and test it on an inconspicuous area of your home. Study it at various times of day and under different weather conditions. How does it change with the light? Road testing is the only way to determine for sure if you’ll be happy with it for years to come.

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