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Things To Consider When Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

You’ve seen it, there’s one in nearly every neighborhood.  Yep, it’s the swimming pool house.  The house that is painted bright turquoise, usually has white trim, looks just like a swimming pool.  Growing up I would hear my mom mention how tacky those houses were when we’d drive by one. I probably agreed with her, but deep down, I loved them, still do.  There are two ways to look at this swimming pool house scenario.  One, is from the neighbor’s perspective- “The property value of my entire neighborhood is plummeting, no one will ever buy my home because that turquoise house down the street is so gaudy!  Why couldn’t they just paint their house beige like everyone else in the hood?  Ugh!  I’m calling Shirley (the HOA prez) right now!”  Two, is from the homeowner’s perspective- “I’ve worked my buns off to be a homeowner, and I have wanted a turquoise house my entire life. Turquoise makes me smile.  I will paint my house whatever color I want, because it is my house and I have the right to do so. The HOA can kiss my hard-working…”

Choosing colors to paint your home’s exterior is a big decision.  You want to drive up to the garage door at the end of a long day and love what you see. What you see will set the stage for how you feel when you enter your home.  If the outside makes you cranky, chances are, what you see inside won’t be so uplifting. Choosing colors to paint your home’s exterior is important because it’s a costly undertaking.  The actual process of painting your home, if you do it yourself, is time consuming, and your time is worth a lot.  If you hire a professional painting company to take on your exterior project, it can be costly.  Either way, choosing the wrong color is something you’ll pay for, in both time and money, to repaint.  I’m going to give you a few things to think about to help make this big decision one you will love, not regret.

HOA Restrictions

You’ve contacted Unique Painting KC, have had a free estimate, and are now on the schedule. You have a month or more to decide what colors to choose.  The first thing you should consider are any HOA restrictions you may have.  Do your covenants restrict you from choosing colors outside of earth tones?  How long will it take your HOA to approve your colors?  You will need to know these answers before you get started.  If you’re planning to live in your home the rest of your life, you might not think those restrictions are important.  You don’t care if it specifically states NO TURQUOISE, in bold letters.  But, the reality of it is, your neighbors, that you plan to live around for the rest of your life, are not going to like you very much if you decide to throw caution to the wind and paint your house turquoise.  Your choice could possibly affect their home value.  You may go from the cool guy who make the best pasta salad in the hood, to the guy responsible for homes not selling quickly in your neighborhood, even if the market is bad, and find out your pasta salad is no longer highly revered. It’s sad, but it happens, folks.  Don’t be that neighbor.  Opt for the turquoise front door if you need that pop of color.

What color are the houses around you?

The next thing you’ll want to think about are the color of houses around you.  You want your home to stand out, but not in an obnoxious way, and you don’t want to copy what your neighbors have going on either.  They certainly won’t appreciate that.  If you’re not sure if the gray you are choosing is going to look exactly like the gray on your neighbor’s house, ask them if you can look at your color swatch next to their house to compare.  There are SO many different colors of gray, you may be surprised at how far off or close to it you are.  Also, you may see a house in your neighborhood or the one yonder that you absolutely love the colors of.  Don’t be afraid to knock on the door and ask if they have the paint colors.  The worst that can happen is they don’t answer the door. The best that can happen is they take your curiosity as a compliment and run to the garage or basement to get the colors for you.

What color is your roof? What color are your windows and storm doors?

Unless you’re planning to replace your roof or windows and storm doors they’ll need to be considered when choosing the new colors for your home.  Most roofs are fairly neutral or may be flecked with several neutral colors. This means you’re able to go warm or cool with your palette.  It’s the tricky all brown, black, red, blue, or green roof colors that will put you on the struggle bus, because they definitely limit your options.  Paying attention to window and storm door colors is also a must.  If you’re planning to paint the body of your house a medium tone then use a dark color on your trim, but have white windows, the overall look could be compromised.  Same is true if you have white windows and you use a white that is much brighter than your windows as the trim color.  In doing so, your windows may appear dirty and shabby.  If your windows are white and you want white trim, you should use swatches to color match your windows so the windows and the trim match in color.

Is there any brick or stone on your home or used as part of the hardscape (pavers, walls, pathways, etc.)?

Unless you’re planning to paint over these features, you need to bear in mind the colors that appear in any brick or stone.  Is the overall color warm or cool?  A dark brown house color with light gray brick does not make a good team.  You’ll want to choose body colors for your house that will complement these natural elements as they are hard to replace.

What direction does your house face? 

Where will the sun be beating on your house the most?  Why does it matter?  If your house catches a lot of sun in the front, the most noticeable area of your exterior, you may want to choose a color with a higher LRV, which won’t fade as fast.  Wait, what is an LRV?   Well, each color has a light reflective value or LRV.  LRV is a measurement that tells you how much light a color reflects, and also how much it absorbs.  Colors with an LRV higher than 50 will be lighter and will reflect more light than they absorb.  Darker colors, with lower LRV’s tend to absorb more light which means they will fade faster.  Yellow is one of the most reflective hues in the spectrum but will fade quickly on an exterior.   It’s a tricky one, that yellow.  Most of the swatches you pick up at your local paint store will list the color’s LRV on the back.

The last bit of advice I can give you is this:  Your house is an investment, and the paint you choose is protecting your investment, literally!  Make sure you choose a good exterior paint for your project.  Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore both carry great options.

Now go forth, color deck in hand, and choose those colors confidently.  Still lacking confidence?  Give me a call.  Color consultations are my absolute favorite, and I especially love exteriors.  Good luck!

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Edward Fensholt
August 22, 2016

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