The Most Popular Exterior Paint Colors
By Liz Olech | May 25, 2016
Here’s a breakdown of the most popular colors for your house’s siding, trim, and architectural accents.
Changing the color scheme of your home’s exterior is one of the quickest ways to give your house a face-lift, whether you’re preparing to list it for sale or just want to increase curb appeal (or both!). You might be surprised at the number of outside elements at play that you should consider before you choose a color scheme. Things like the hue of your brick chimney (is your brick more orange or brown?), the color your neighbor chose for their house, and your area of the country can all influence a color scheme. Plus, you’ll probably have to coordinate at least three colors — for the siding, trim, and accents. And this is a big investment, so it’s not very easy to change if you don’t love the end result, making what seems like a simple decision trickier than you might have expected.
We talked to paint companies to get information on their bestselling exterior paint colors, then consulted with color specialists on what to consider when planning your own home’s color palette.
Choosing a color for the siding
When it comes to sheer square footage, a home’s siding takes up a lot of visual real estate and is usually the most difficult (and most expensive) area to paint. Consequently, you should decide on a paint color for your siding first and then match your trim and accents to it. To start your color selection, realize your home actually isn’t a blank canvas. You have a lot of fixed elements to consider when establishing your color palette.
1. The roof
If you have a brown roof, steer toward a warm siding color, like Sherwin-Williams’ Avenue Tan. If you have a gray or black roof, you can go cooler — Olympic’s Coast of Maine is a popular choice. Take a step back and observe any other fixed, unpaintable elements on your home’s exterior, like copper awnings, stone chimneys, and brick features.
2. Consider your neighbors
If one house next door to yours is navy-blue and another is white, you shouldn’t veer into warm-color territory or paint your house navy-blue or white (no one likes a copycat). Instead, match their home’s color intensity. Something like Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray would pair well: It stays in the cool spectrum and doesn’t duplicate their selections. You want to have personality but not stand out in a bad way.
3. Don’t ignore local cues
Beyond the colors on your block, do some research (you can probably just drive around your town!) to make sure your color scheme is historically and regionally appropriate. “Imagine the colors you see on homes in Key West,” says Amy Krane, an architectural color consultant. “Pink and turquoise feel natural in a tropical region but would be wholly out of place in the Midwest.”
4. Keep scale and depth in mind
The color of your home can trick the eye. For instance, painting your home a light color like Benjamin Moore’s November Rain can make it seem larger than it is and visually brings it forward to the curb. Conversely, dark colors can make a home look smaller but more substantial and set back — Benjamin Moore’s Boston Brick has this effect.
5. Test before you commit
Always paint a test patch and observe it at different times of day to see how the sunlight affects it. Keep in mind that all colors will always appear lighter on the exterior of your house than on a paint chip in the store. “Natural lighting makes everything appear lighter and brighter,” says paint color specialist Kristie Barnett. “Always go darker than you think you’d want.”
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The best colors for trim
A house’s trim color is easy to overlook if it marries well with the rest of the house but impossible to ignore if the color is even slightly off. Trim that’s matched exactly to the siding color can feel flat; dark trim, especially around windows, can make them appear small or oddly framed.
1. Keep it in the family
For this reason, a safe bet is to select a trim color two shades lighter or darker from the siding color or to keep it simple with a fresh white or cream shade. Sherwin-Williams’ Panda White and PPG Paints’ Oatmeal are popular selections for warm-tone homes; Benjamin Moore’s Frostine is an option for cool-hued homes.
2. Use trim to blend
Keep in mind that less-attractive elements of your home, like gutters, garage doors, or vents, should be painted the same color as your trim so they blend in. Picking a trim color can be tough, so this is an opportunity to talk to a pro — see if the paint company you’re working with has preselected color palettes based on architectural style or color range. These can be incredibly helpful when matching your trim to your siding.
Now for the fun part: accent colors
After you’ve chosen the foundation for your palette — the siding and trim colors — it’s time to have some fun playing up the accents, like the front door, shutters, and other architectural details. Accent colors present an opportunity to make a statement and differentiate your home from your neighbors’ houses.
1. Keep it classic
When it comes to front doors, some colors will never go out of style: Behr’s Black Lacquer, for instance, or a red door like Glidden’s Rusty Red. Or pick a color that gives a nod to a classic: Something like Sherwin-Williams’ Indigo Batik is similar to navy-blue, but the gray undertone is slightly more modern and fresh.
2. Look inside
Besides coordinating your front door with your siding and trim, when picking a color, consider the interior of your house, says color consultant Barbara Jacobs. “For one of my clients, as soon as you opened the front door, they had a beautiful oriental rug and piece of art,” says Jacobs. “We pulled a lilac color from these elements to use on the front door, and it created a stunning impact as you entered their home.” Colors like Benjamin Moore’s Super Nova and Breath of Fresh Air are unexpected hues that can ooze this effect.
3. Add more color
Other architectural details can match the front door, but they offer another opportunity to introduce a new hue. Barnett says it’s wise to pull other accent colors from fixed elements on the home. “If you have orangey brick on the base of your house, you could do a copper-color shutter,” she says. Or, a shade like Behr’s Cinnabark would work well with dark brick. “If you have a black roof, you could do black shutters and a pop of color on your front door. Whatever you choose, by syncing these details, it looks like you had a plan!”
What are your favorite exterior paint colors? Did you use a predetermined paint scheme or establish your own? Share in the comments!