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Painting 101

How to Select Exterior Paint Colors for a Home

Keep these tips in mind when selecting exterior paint colors - before you bare your innermost personality to the world!

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tips on selecting exterior paint colors

Even if you have an interior design degree and many years in the painting business, there are a few tips you should consider before painting the exterior of a home to ensure a perfect color scheme. Here's how to begin:

  • Several months before you intend on painting, do research. Walk around the neighborhood a bit to see what other colors are being used for siding and trim. If you find a color scheme you especially like, knock on the door, compliment your neighbor, and maybe they'll tell you the colors. Try to pick a color that will blend in with your surroundings, but with a few accents. With well-placed color choices, your home can still stand out in a tasteful manner.

  • Next, pick up a variety of exterior-paint color cards that do offer color-combination suggestions. They are put together by color experts (I was one of them, so I know) and they do take the guesswork out of combining colors. Pick up a few magazines or even books on home styles that feature lots of color photos. Now, find a comfortable spot and start spreading everything on the table. Cut up the paint brochures, rip out magazine photos and create color schemes you like.

  • A month before you paint, start evaluating your house. What are the surfaces made of? Shingles, brick, stone and tile are things that won't be changing in color, so your color scheme has to work with them. Now shuffle through some of the colors you're thinking about for the siding. Stand back by the street, and picture the color on your home with the roof, or the brick, and between your neighbors' homes. Take the color up close to your house, and consider it against any surface that will stay. Once you have the siding colors narrowed down to two or three, purchase quarts of the paint colors you prefer.

  • About twp weeks before painting, get some sample swatches up onto your home. Put patches of all your siding colors on the front, next to the brick or stone, on the side, in areas that are shadowed and those places that get full sun. If you've selected trim colors to go with the siding, add those as well. I have the most success when the trim color is in the same color family as the siding color, just a couple steps lighter, although all sorts of combinations can work. For your front door, add an accent that gives your home real curb appeal. Then, look at your home in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, because the colors will change as the color of the sunlight changes. Once the color decisions are made, it's time to head to the paint store.

  • About a week before painting, head to the paint store with a picture of your home and the dimensions of the footprint in hand, this will help the experts determine how much paint you need. They will also suggest all the additional products that will make your paint job as easy as possible.

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