How to Pick Exterior Paint Colours in 5 Easy Steps

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The 5 Best Tips for Picking Exterior Paint Colours

When picking paint colours for your home’s exterior, you have to take your time and do your research. Why? Well, choosing an exterior paint colour might SEEM straightforward, but just like interiors, there are some major considerations you could be ignoring!

Which is why this blog post will be DARNED handy, so you can step back and view your home from a DIFFERENT angle, not just the one that’s based on your personal preferences.

That’s right, sometimes what YOU want and what your HOME wants are two different things – and you have to listen to your home first and then work out from there to see if you can squeeze your own personal tastes in (which is where front doors come in handy).

STEP 1     LOOK AT YOUR STONE OR BRICK FIRST

For MOST homes, because stone/brick and siding are on the same vertical plane, your eyes will usually make the connection between those two first and THEN the roof (but that doesn’t mean you can forget the roof entirely!). This means it’s UBER important to get the colour connection BANG-on.

FIGURE OUT THE MAIN UNDERTONES/COLOURS IN YOUR STONE/BRICK

You can get a LOT of inspiration from the stone or brick on your home, but that can be HARD if you don’t LIKE the stone or brick that you have, but if you ignore its preferences, NOTHING will look good – you gotta work with whatcha got! The exception to this is if you have a particular layout where the stone or brick plays second-fiddle to your roof, which is the more dominant feature.

Look at the main neutrals in your brick or stone. What undertones do they have? What undertones DON’T they have? If you want things to FLOW, pick consistent undertones so that everything visually connects.

This next photo is a great example of paint samples that connect with the homeowner’s favourite parts of the stonework…

In this next photo, see how the paint samples GRAB ON TO the colours in the stonework and their undertones…

The siding colour in this next photo picks up on the warmer, slightly taupe undertones of the stonework…

In this next BEFORE photo, they weren’t THAT far off…but they sure as heck weren’t close enough…

After, with a little KLC and by tuning in to the undertones and needs of the brick and windows, everything flowed better. It’s ALLLLL about connecting the undertones…

CONTRAST AND COMPLEMENT THE COLOURS IN YOUR STONE OR BRICK

And you don’t always have to MATCH, you can also try contrasting or complementing, but it can be tricky and you MAY need to hire a professional to get the right look. In this next photo, notice how the colours of the house, trim and shutters COMPLEMENT the brick without clashing.

Photo via my awesome client House of Blue Hues

In this next photo (our home), notice that we pulled the colour OUT of the stone and put it on the siding as a way to enhance the colours in the stone. And yes, we’re changing the lights, that’s Phase 3 of like, 80. The take-away is that we found a colour IN the stone and put it on the house. The more colours your stone/brick has in it, the more options you’ll have!

Also look at the mortar around your brick or stone as sometimes, it can play an important part in colour selection, especially if you don’t like what your stone or brick has to say – your mortar MIGHT give you a bit more flexibility.

If you’re unsure about stepping OUTSIDE of the colours in your stone or brick, sometimes it’s safer to CONTRAST or COMPLEMENT the colours in your stone or brick via the shutters or front door (or plant pots), where the colour becomes more of an accent’ rather than a full-home commitment…

Read more: What are the Best Paint Colours for My Front Door?

STEP 2     LOOK AT YOUR ROOF 

(Or first, if you don’t have any stone or brick on your home)

The roof? That’s right. SO many people forget that the roof is playing a BIG PART in the colour palette of their home.

Some roofs have a LOT of flexibility re: the colours they can be partnered up with. The ones you have to be careful with are the roofs with dedicated ‘colours’ or undertones:

  • Gray roofs with a distinct green or purple undertone. Remember, GRAY HAS UNDERTONES – even your gray roof, so it’s important to figure out which undertone you’re dealing with!
  • Roofs with a strong orange/purple blend
  • Tile roofs 
  • Metal roofs, as they don’t have the variation that you’ll find in traditional asphalt slate roofs

STEP 3     CONSIDER THE EXPOSURE OF YOUR HOME

North, east, south, west – which paint colour is the best? Well, it depends on not just your stonework, brick, and roof, it ALSO depends on the exposure of your home. And while I could get down n’ dirty, I’ve actually dedicated an ENTIRE blog post to this topic HERE.

Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…

Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…

  • Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
  • At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing for traditional paint sampling
  • If you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room

Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE

STEP 4     BLACK, WHITE, OR TAN COLOUR WINDOWS? FIND THE BEST PAINT COLOURS 

Windows can REALLY throw a wrench into your colour palette and are an expensive update if you want a clean slate.

BROWN WINDOWS AND EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS

A lot of my clients have brown windows and are hoping to update their home with a classic gray – but the two don’t always jibe and sometimes they have to consider warmer options in order to humour those warmer-toned windows.

WHITE WINDOWS AND EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS

White windows are DEFINITELY the most flexible of the bunch…

The only combo I’m NOT a big fan of is white windows with black trim. This is a high-contrast look and makes the windows pop, whereas they usually aren’t the focal point of the home, but it’s not ALL ABOUT ME (well, let’s be honest, it is – right Tim?).

TAN OR BEIGE WINDOWS WITH EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS

When choosing paint colours with tan or beige windows, you’ll want to consider the warmth of them in your palette, rather than trying to ignore them or distract from them. If you’re dreaming of a white home, you’ll be out of luck with beige windows, but you might be able to squeeze in a gray as long as it has some good depth to it and makes sense with the other fixed elements on your home.

However, it can be hard when the different features/surfaces of your home don’t have well-coordinated surfaces to start with. This was the case with our home when we bought it. Notice that the beige windows look yellow-green compared to the pink undertone of the siding (wooooof). Beige windows really were the WRONG choice for the charcoal gray roof – black or white windows would have been WAY more appropriate (and you guys know I’m ALL about being appropriate – wink wink).

Look at my one-legged child! She must’ve had some serious momentum going…

In the end, I COULDN’T work with the colour of the windows as they were the wrong colour for our home and some of it’s most gorgeous features like the stonework and roof lines. So, in the end, we replaced the windows with white for a fresh, clean look! We might be living on Kraft Dinner and weiners for the next 5 years to pay for them, but that’s kind of my speciality anyway.

Photo via Jen Wynia Photography

BLACK WINDOWS AND EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS

Black windows are definitely the 2nd easiest to accommodate when choosing exterior colours and just like with white windows, you’ll find WAY fewer limitations, leaving you to focus more on the needs of the roof, stone, brick and exposure.

Generally speaking, black windows love white, gray, greige, cream, earth-tones and SO much more.

STEP 5     NOTICE THE COLOURS AND UNDERTONES IN THE REMAINING EXTERIOR SURFACES ON YOUR HOME

Fixed elements can also call a lot of the shots when it comes to choosing an exterior paint colour, for example:

THE COLOUR OF YOUR GUTTERS AND SOFFITS

The wrong colour gutter can throw a HUGE wrench into your paint palette if it doesn’t fall in the right family. Keep in mind that when painting the exterior, MANY people decide to paint the gutters and soffits at the same time (I did on my own home), usually making them the same colour as the trim.

THE COLOUR OF YOUR DRIVEWAY & PATIO/FRONT PORCH IF IT’S STONE OR BRICK

Depending on the product on your driveway and layout, it can lay a pretty big part in the colour selection process. This next home is the PERFECT example of that…

Before, the yellow of the siding in NO WAY RELATED to the roof, brick, stonework OR exposure – it was probably chosen considering ONLY the homeowner’s preference for a ‘yellow home!’

Luckily, the roof, brick and driveway were pretty well-coordinated with each other, so it was about finding the colour that pulled them all together in a full palette…SO MUCH BETTER!

As for the front porch/patio (stone/brick) this plays a MINOR part compared to the all-important main stone, brick and roof, but it doesn’t hurt to consider it as well, especially if it has particular colours or undertones. However, in terms of PRIORITIES, I put it lower on the last and usually only hone in on it when choosing the front door colour.

And guess what, there’s a BONUS step for you…

STEP 6     CONSIDER SHEEN, TEXTURE & EXPOSURE WHEN CHOOSING EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS

These topics are blog posts unto themselves, which is why I have blog posts written specifically for these topics (and more!). Be sure to check them out before you start your painting adventures!

The Best Exterior Paint Colours: Your Home’s Exposure and Why it Matters!

Exterior Painting: 4 Tips to Read Before Picking a Paint Colour

NEED HELP?

Check out my Online Paint Colour Consulting packages! 

Chat soon,

READ MORE

My TOP 10 E-DESIGN Exterior Makeovers

The Best Paint Colours for Your Front Door

4 Tips for Picking the Best Exterior Paint Colour

North, East, South, West: Which Paint Colours is the Best for Your Exterior?

KYLIE M INTERIORS E-DESIGN    ONLINE VIRTUAL PAINT COLOR CONSULTING AND E-DECOR SERVICES     SPECIALIZING IN THE BEST BENJAMIN MOORE AND SHERWIN WILLIAMS PAINT COLOURS

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