What are the rules of thumb for choosing exterior paint colors?

My house needs painting, and Iím considering whether to change the color scheme. I have a general idea of how to choose interior colors, but I need help with the exterior. What do I need to know about choosing colors for the outside of my house?
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Even people who feel fairly comfortable choosing colors for their home’s interiors are often not as confident about the exterior. For one thing, the colors on the outside of your home are on display for all to see, and you probably have some sense that your home should fit into the neighborhood. So I would suggest you start by walking your area and paying close attention to the colors you see on other homes. 

You’ll notice that most home exteriors consist of three colors, or four including the roof: the field color (the main surface, such as siding or brick), the trim color (woodwork around windows, doors, and eaves), and the colors of doors and shutters (which are usually the same). The roof color is a given unless you will be replacing it as part of the project, but it does affect your other color choices.

The rules of thumb for choosing exterior paint colors start with making sure your choices are complementary with the roof color. If your house is sided with brick or stone, that settles the field color, although on an older house a professional cleaning will often do wonders to brighten it. If you choose to paint your siding, consider your environment: a house surrounded by trees would look natural painted in earth tones but out of place in pastels. In cold climates, a bright field color can look cartoonish, but in the sunbelt it might work. Generally, though, bright colors are reserved for the trim, doors, and shutters as accents to a subtler field color. Finally, if you have a historic home, it is important to respect the integrity of the architecture. 

Try out color schemes electronically with BHG Color-a-Home.


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