How to Pick an Exterior Paint Colour
Are you trying to pick an exterior colour and 2nd guessing yourself at every turn? If not, you should be.
That’s right, you SHOULD be 2nd guessing yourself. Why? Because choosing an exterior paint colour is a WHOLE different ball game compared to interior colours, which is why so many people find themselves picking the wrong one.
Kylie M E-Design
So how do you pick the right one? Prayer, toe crossing, salt throwing and multiple
bottles glasses of wine. Oh, and read these tips…
Exterior Painting Tip #1
It will look lighter
Expect your colour to look about 1/2 tone lighter or even lighter than it does on that wee little chip. Why? Well, paint tends to look lighter when exposed to natural light, especially on a large surface. Regardless of the direction your home faces, the amount of 100% direct natural light it gets can make your paint look a little, or a lot lighter!
This effect is hard to see on those wee little paint chips and even with larger paint samples. Just know that in the end, it will look lighter – trust the Ginger.
Kylie M Interiors E-Design
- If you have a lot of landscaping that blocks natural light, then the colour won’t lighten as much
- If you find a colour that you love and worry that it will be too light – it probably will be. If you’re worried it’s too dark – don’t jump the gun as it will look lighter once it’s on the house
- With south-facing homes, the southern side will look at least 1 tone lighter – until the sun starts going down obviously. At the height of the day the colour can look washed out
- With north-facing homes, the colour will lighten somewhat, but not as much as a south-facing side
Exterior Painting Tip #2
Texture and shadows add depth
The above is not my E-design project, just a great example of a stucco finish
This is important for homes that have a stippled, stucco finish – I’m not talking about general ‘texture’ – I’m talking about the popcorn style of texture. All of those nooks and crannies create shadows which can make the paint colour look slightly darker. If you have a home that has 2 types of exterior finishes (siding and stippled stucco) you can paint both areas the same colour and the stucco may look slightly darker than the siding.
- If your entire home is popcorn style stucco, by the time you take into account the craving for Orville Redenbacher’s, shadows from the stucco and the lightening from the natural light, your paint colour should turn out pretty darn close to the sample piece
- If part of your home is under an overhang that casts a shadow or is beneath landscaping/trees that reduce the quality of direct natural light, expect your paint colour to look darker
Exterior Painting Tip #3
Expect more colour
On an exterior, undertones can be a wink more obvious than what you see on those wee little paint chips (specifically the undertones hiding in neutral paint colours). Find out what the undertones of your colour are (if you are choosing a neutral) and decide if those are colours you can live with. I’m not saying they are going to go all dominatrix style on you, but they might be a bit more than passive.
The above shows you the variety of colours that can be found in gray!
The above photo shows the final result of the previous sampling of grays – Sherwin Williams Classic French Gray!
Also, depending on the direction of your home, the natural light can enhance the undertones of your paint. For example…
A south-facing wall: Southern light is yellow and warm and is known to enhance some ‘colours’, while at the height of the day, direct southern light (like sunbeams shining ON your house) can wash out colours. I know…it’s confusing. Sip sip. Okay, that’s better.
A north-facing wall: Northern light is gray and slightly blue-toned and can slightly (very slightly) neutralize colours – but not enough to make the undertones irrelevant.
East and West: These change from morning to evening, so really I wouldn’t pay as much attention to them as the north/south exposures. Why? Because your colour will look quite different in the morning than the afternoon as the sun moves across the sky and at some point you just have to give up (or hire me to help).
Exterior Painting Tip #4
The sheen can affect the colour
Paint finish (sheen) can affect how a colour looks. OH, WILL THE MADNESS EVER END????? No. It won’t.
So, when it comes to exteriors these are the recommended finishes and how you might expect them to act…
Siding: Wood, Vinyl or Hardi
Low-Lustre or Satin finish
The lower the sheen is on your paint, the less washable it will be, so if you go low-lustre make sure you buy QUALITY paint (BM has a good one – Aura). Satin is good for washability, but can enhance texture a more and look even a bit garish.
The above was just a sneaky drive-by on one of my local projects, so I couldn’t move the hockey net
- The more textured your wood is, the flatter your finish should be. Sheen enhances texture, so choosing a low sheen paint will keep things calm
Trim, shutters and exterior doors
Satin (although some people do semi-gloss on doors)
Satin and semi-gloss are great finishes for trims, doors and garage doors. I lean toward satin on the garage door and front door with satin OR semi-gloss on the trims.
- Satin has just the right sheen to accommodate smooth or textured trim
- Satin is in between eggshell and semi-gloss. Semi-gloss is THE most washable.
- A satin or semi-gloss finish will make your colour feel just slightly more saturated (colourful/bright) than a flat or eggshell finish (compared to your paint chip)
On Masonry (brick/block)
Low-lustre or Satin at the MOST
Satin finish can work for textured surfaces like brick and other masonry. This keeps it easy to hose down without creating a smudgy surface as brick is often on the lower portion of a home, where it gets the most dirt. However, I personally prefer a low-lustre/eggshell finish to keep the textured look down and reduce the sheen.
- Semi-gloss can be TOO much with the texture/pattern of masonry
- Satin is in between eggshell and semi-gloss. More wipeable than eggshell without the sheen of semi or high gloss paint
- A satin finish will make your colour feel just slightly more saturated (colourful/bright) than a flat finish (compared to your paint chip)
- Low-lustre will have some sheen to it, but not as much as a satin – but not as flat as a matte/flat
Do you want help picking paint colours for your exterior?
Check out my Online Decorating and Color Consulting Services – I’d love to help!