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How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors for Your House in 6 Easy Steps

Painting your house is a huge project. It’s expensive and time-consuming. Trust me; it’s not an experience you want to redo because you picked the wrong color.

But how to choose exterior paint colors for your house? Well, you’re doing it. You start by researching. That’s probably the most important step. So good job! Because if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to make a mistake. Like I did.

Sure, I knew what I wanted. I wanted a nice muted green-colored house with a white porch. In theory, it sounded great. But when it was applied, I ended up with a mint green cartoon house with a porch so bright you’d blind yourself if you looked at it for more than a second. Needless to say, in our humble neighborhood, it stuck out like a sore thumb.

So, to prevent this from happening again, I’ve put together a list of practical steps to help you choose the right exterior paint colors for your house. Once you go through these steps, you’ll know exactly what you want, and you won’t make the same mistakes I did.

how to choose exterior paint colors for your house

Step 1: Find Inspiration

This first step of how to choose exterior paint colors for your house is probably the most fun. You just have to look around and take note of what you like.

Before you do that, though, research the type of house you live in. Is it a ranch house, a cape cod, a farmhouse, or a victorian cottage? There are all types of architecture out there. You should be aware of what you have.

Once you know what kind of house you live in, google that architecture. Find images of houses that look similar to yours and see what exterior paint color schemes match what you want.

Another option is to drive around your town and find houses that you love. Take mental or literal notes of what you like and don’t like. With the houses that you find appealing, make sure you write down all of the exterior paint colors on the house, not just the color of the siding. You’ll see why in step four.

Step 2: Think About Your Style

Everyone’s got a style. It may not fit precisely in a box or a label. You could love cottage-core, bohemian, and contemporary all at once. Your interior design might seem a little all over the place, but because you put it together, it works.

If you can’t define your style, that’s totally fine. You can use all that inspiration you gathered in step one and decide what you like and don’t like.

House Exterior

It’s important to do this because you want to love your house and create a semblance of uniformity.

When your friends and neighbors admire your house from the outside and then enter and admire your house from the inside, the design should all come together, make sense, and be beautiful because you have a beautiful style.

Step 3: Take in the Surroundings

Put on some shoes, get outside, and look at your house. Really take it in. Then, ask yourself a couple of questions.

What Colors Are My Neighbors’ Houses?

You don’t want to have the same exact exterior paint colors as they do, nor do you want to contrast them so much that you look like a circus tent next to their brick ranch-style home, unless, of course, you’re going for that classic Ringling Brothers’ aesthetic.

What Nature Is Around My House?

Think about the relationship of your house to the nature around it. How beautiful are those white cherry tree flowers going to look against the exterior paint colors you chose? Or how will your house look standing solitary in the middle of a vast green field or a snowy landscape?

If you’re a gardener, think about the plants you plan on planting around the house. This might seem unimportant, but this goes back to step two. You want to create a uniform style. Thinking about the colors of flowers and the shape of foliage now will really help complete a gorgeous masterpiece later.

What Are the Colors of the Unpainted Sections of My House?

Let’s say you have a brick or stone base but siding for the rest of your house. Or maybe you want to paint your siding but are leaving your trim unpainted. Take all of this into consideration.

Brick House

You want to make sure you choose exterior paint colors for your house that complement rather than contrast. We’ll go into this more in the next step.

Step 4: Consider the Color Palette

You can’t go wrong if you choose the right color palette for your exterior paint colors.

That said, it’s not as easy as just looking at a color wheel and picking blue and orange because they’re complementary. You’ll see why when we get to step five.

Here’s an example of choosing the right exterior paint color palette. If you have a red brick at the base of your house, consider painting your siding a muted blue or green. It will compliment the brick red, giving a sense of satisfaction to onlookers. Then, for your shutters, you could choose a darker blue or green to brighten up the muted blue or green siding and really emphasize the red brick.

White and gray can go with almost anything, and depending on their tone, they will really show off whatever accent colors you choose for the shutters or for the trim.

Make sure you consider all the exterior paint colors: your siding, your trim, your shutters, your porch or deckyour front door, etc. Every color matters when picking a color palette.

Step 5: Look at the Light

This is where I went wrong. I didn’t take into consideration the light. It turns out the sun is pretty bright and really illuminates any exterior paint colors.

Generally, when picking a paint color at the store for the inside of your house, what you see on the swatch is what you get. Not so when choosing exterior paint colors.

If you don’t know what color you’re getting, then how to choose exterior paint colors for your house?

LRV or Light Reflectance Value

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can make sure your muted green doesn’t look like a mint candy when you’re done.

All exterior paint colors have an LRV measurement. It goes from zero to 100. The lower the number, the less reflective the color will be. The higher the number, the more reflective.

For exterior paint colors, this number is extremely important. You do not want to choose a color with an LRV higher than 75. Otherwise, it’ll just be too bright and hard to look at.

If you want the exterior paint color of your house to be white, this rule still applies. So, if you want a white house, choose a very soft off-white. Maybe you can get away with an LRV of 80, but be careful. I promise that if you choose an off-white, when the sun hits, it will look wonderfully white and bright like you imagined in your head.

This doesn’t mean you have to go with dark colors (in fact, I’d caution against going too dark). It just means you should be aware that the sun makes bright colors even brighter.

Speaking of the sun…


Before you buy all the exterior paint colors for your house, get a color sample and paint a small section of your house. Choose the sunniest part of your house. Then, at around midday on a sunny day, take a good look at it and decide if that’s the color that you want.

Sunshine on House

Here’s why you do this. The sun has the weird ability to cool colors down. This means that if you plan to choose cool exterior paint colors, say gray or blue, pick a warm shade of that gray or blue. In full sun, I promise it will look exactly how you pictured it.

A cautionary tale: When I was choosing the green for my house, I painted a small section under the covered porch. In the shade, I had no idea that the green I chose would be so bright and cool. It was only after the whole house was covered in the paint that I saw I had made a mistake.

Step 6: Select Your Paint

How to choose exterior paint colors for your house? You’ve done it! Now, it’s finally time to buy, and it’s important to choose an exterior paint that will last.

Benjamin Moore is a familiar name in the painting world for a reason. They make quality paint that you can trust. I recommend two of their options. For really high-quality jobs, use their Aura paint. For a more affordable option, use Benjamin Moore.

To find the LRV number, you can go to the Benjamin Moore website and search for the exterior paint colors you want.

Why Paint Your House?

Painting your house is a huge job. It’s expensive and time-consuming. But it’s worth it.

To protect the exterior of your house, you should paint it at least once every ten years. This will ensure that your walls or trim won’t rot or fall apart due to weather damage. It’s easier to paint your house every so often than it is to replace your siding, trim, or window frames.

Painting a House Exterior

Also, painting your house can astronomically increase its curb appeal, making it worth more money and sell quicker. If your house is an investment, then invest in painting it. If you follow these steps and choose the right exterior paint colors for your house, you will reap the rewards.

Finally, painting your house can give it that fresh, clean look that we all love. It will make you feel more confident and better about your home situation. You’ll want to be outside more, and maybe it will even inspire you to take on more projects.

Wrapping up How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors for Your House

Just follow the steps. They might seem like a long list, but it’s actually fairly simple: Find your inspiration, think about your style, take in the surroundings, consider the color palette, look at the color in the light, then select your paint. It doesn’t seem so bad when it’s written like that, does it?

Choosing the right exterior paint colors for your house can be a fun process. It’s really about getting to know your house. It’s almost like picking out clothing for your partner or child. You want to get them something that suits them, fits them just right, and compliments their natural look. And when you get it right, your house will thank you for it.

By the end of this painting process, I promise your house will be your home.

Figure out how much it will cost to paint your chosen exterior paint colors on your house with The DIY Painting Tips Calculator.