How to Select Exterior Paint Colors for a Home

Your home’s exterior is the way you greet the world — choose a color wisely with these expert tips.

Red, White and Blue Victorian-Style Home

Red, White and Blue Victorian-Style Home

Photo By: BEHR View original photo.

BEHR

If you’re painting the outside of your home, don’t be afraid to take a little time with the color decision.

“Your interior is about your personal color tastes,” says Tom Lee, Senior VP of Consumer Marketing for Behr, “but the exterior is really about durability. It’s about protecting the biggest investment you have.” It isn’t an easy decision to redo, so don’t rush it.

With that in mind, here are some tips for choosing a paint:

Mediterranean Home With Warm, Yellow Exterior

Mediterranean Home With Warm, Yellow Exterior

Photo By: BEHR View original photo.

BEHR

  • Plan to spend a little more money. Investing in a premium paint such as Behr Marquee Exterior Paint & Primer in One is a wise choice. You don’t want to be climbing up a scaffold again anytime soon — or paying for someone else to do it — so paint needs to cover well, resist stains and stand up to weather. 
  • Think about your permanent materials. If you have an existing brick or stone foundation, patio, or accents, work with their underlying tones as you’re choosing a paint shade. If you’re stuck, try pairing opposites in terms of color temperature. For example, if you have a warm red brick foundation and you want brown for your exterior paint, choose a taupe with cool gray/blue undertones instead of a peachy tan.
  • Take advantage of technology. You can usually bring in a sample of permanent materials to the paint store for computer color matching. Behr also offers an online tool called that lets you choose an initial color, recommends matching/coordinating colors, and helps you experiment with color combos on images of a home exterior so you can imagine the finished look.
  • Don’t forget the trim. If you want something other than the usual white, try your exterior color just a few shades lighter for a subtle, elegant effect.
  • Ease in with swatches. Buy test sizes of the paint colors you’re considering and paint some brush-outs on the exterior. Be sure to put some color on both the north and south sides of the house, where lighting can differ dramatically, and near any trim you’re coordinating with. Visit your paint samples at different times of day to get the best idea of how the finished product will look.

To give you a head start, here’s a cheat sheet of popular Benjamin Moore exterior colors courtesy of Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore’s color and design expert:

  • Neutrals:
    Shaker Beige HC-45, Alexandria Beige HC-77, Pashmina AF-100

  • Grays:
    Stonington Gray HC-170, Thunder AF-685, Storm AF-700

  • Blues and Greens:
    Phillipsburg Blue HC-159, Guilford Green HC-116, Soft Fern 2144-40, Santorini Blue 1634, Wickham Gray HC-171

  • Trim: 
    Navajo White 947 (also OC-95),  Frostine AF-5, Simply White OC-117

  • Front Doors:
    Lucerne AF-530, Flint AF-560, Breath of Fresh Air 806, Black Satin 2131-10, Silhouette AF-655, Super Nova 1414, Pomegranate AF-295

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