How to Choose Exterior Trim Colors that Bring Out Your Home's Best Features
Whether you prefer a bold, high-contrast look or a more subdued color scheme, these tips will help you find the perfect paint color for your exterior trim.
Exterior trim provides decorative detail on your home's facade. Trim lines your roof, accents your siding, and frames windows and doors, which means it plays a big role in your exterior color palette. Depending on the siding and trim color combination you choose, trim can provide an unexpected pop of color, blend in with your siding, or make your front door stand out. Choosing an exterior paint color that complements your home's style and matches your personality is key. Whether you're installing new trimwork or painting the existing trim, these tips will help you find the best exterior trim colors for your home.
How to Choose Exterior Trim Colors
The ideal exterior trim color will depend on the look you want to achieve. Monochromatic siding and trim create a subdued, elegant quality, while a high-contrast color scheme can give your exterior depth and interest. Black exterior trim on a white house, for example, emphasizes architectural features for a more modern look.
For homes with darker siding, such as brown or charcoal gray, white trim is always a good option. Bright white can make other colors appear more vibrant, so it's perfect for highlighting a vibrant front door.
If you prefer a bright, colorful look, consider choosing a complementary color for your exterior trim, such as yellow trim against blue siding. These shades are opposite each other on the color wheel, so the effect is energizing and dynamic yet still pleasing to the eye.
To create a subtler contrast, choose an exterior trim color that's a few shades lighter or darker than your siding color. Combining shades from the same color family highlights your home's architectural details without going too bold. For example, if your siding is off-white, try painting your exterior trim a light tan or taupe. This tonal look works especially well on traditional-style homes where a bright splash of color might look out of place. When in doubt, earth tones, such as browns and greens, are usually a safe bet for exterior trim colors, as they can help your home blend in with its natural surroundings.
Tips for Using Exterior Trim Colors
Once you've selected your exterior trim colors, it's time to decide how to use them on your home's various architectural details. A few guidelines can help you achieve the best look. In general, ceilings under the eaves should be painted the same color as the siding, while the entire cornice (the trim that faces outward) should match the trim color.
To make gutters and downspouts as inconspicuous as possible, paint them to blend in with the adjacent siding or trim. On a frame house with olive trim and a light green body, for example, the gutters would probably be olive to disappear against the olive cornice, but the downspouts would be painted light green to correspond to the adjacent siding. On masonry buildings, the downspouts often are painted bronze-green to simulate weathered copper.
When it comes to painting window trim, as a general rule, window sashes and shutters should be the darkest parts of your color scheme. As a result, the windows recede into the facade. Paint the window sash color a neutral tone that can be repeated on the front door or porch steps. Storm windows should be the same color as the sash.
If you plan to combine two or more exterior trim colors on your home, it's important to apply them thoughtfully so the look is intentional, not haphazard. For multi-level homes, it's typically best to apply the darkest shade on the first floor, medium on the second floor, and the lightest on the third floor. If you paint the darkest trim color on top, you risk making the house appear top-heavy. Houses with shingled upper stories are the exception; these should be painted a lighter shade on the lower story.