Best Paint Colors

March 17, 2009

Giving Your Home An Exterior Colour Facelift

While new paint can give your home’s interior a new look and feel without breaking the bank, it can also go a long way to give your home’s exterior just the lift it may need.

Preparation is one of the most important steps to any home renovation project. When purchasing paint, be sure to speak with a knowledgeable paint professional who can help you choose the right products and provide tips on how to proceed.

When choosing colours, keep in mind your home’s existing stonework, brickwork or roofing and be sure to choose a palette that will work in harmony with these established colours.

In this article:
Visualize the results before you start
Points to consider when choosing an exterior colour palette
Application and finishes

Visualize the results before you start

To get an idea of what the house will look like once finished, take digital photographs of all sides of the house. Then, print out the pictures in black and white ink or open them with an image editing application like Photoshop and “desaturate” the images (in Photoshop, this option is found under the Image/Adjustments menu) to make them appear in black and white.

If using printed photos, render copies of the images in several different colour schemes with markers or pencil crayons until you find your favourite look. If using your computer, “paint” over the areas you’d like to update with colours that closely match those in the palette of your choice. You can also scan paint chips and, using the eyedropper tool, sample colours from the chip you want to paint with.

Another option is to use the on-line colour visualization tools now offered for free on many paint company web sites. These helpful tools show how different colour schemes will appear on particular styles of homes.

As you determine your colours, remember that balance is important. Your eye should flow smoothly around the façade, not jump from one distracting colour to the next. Shades should also be appropriate to the style and era of your home’s architecture and your neighbourhood’s overall look.

Points to consider when choosing an exterior colour palette

Door and window trim colour

Trim colour will accentuate your home’s siding and provide some visual interest. A contrasting trim colour will create a very different look from one that’s just a shade lighter or darker than your siding.

Accent colours

Accent colours, often used in more Victorian-style homes, can be applied on shutters, architectural detailing or garage door trim.

Siding colour

When selecting a colour for siding, keep in mind that a light shade will make your house appear larger while a dark colour will have the opposite effect.

Garage door colour

Oftentimes, homeowners will opt to paint the garage door the same colour as the house’s trim. If the trim contrasts with the siding colour, the garage will end up being the focal point of the house. Instead, paint the door the same colour as the siding.

If you want to de-emphasize the garage door even more, paint its trim the same colour as the door — this will let the rest of the house and façade trim colour be the focus instead.

To give a country home a farmhouse look, paint the garage door the same colour as the siding, but add decorative trim to the door and paint it the same colour as the trim on the rest of the house.

Application and finishes

Once you have decided on a colour palette and which elements of your home’s exterior will be painted what colours, you will need to determine how to apply them. Should you use semi-transparent or opaque stain? Is latex or oil paint better for the job? Do you need to prime your entire house or just apply the paint over the existing layer? When choosing paint finishes, keep in mind that flat paint is best for large surfaces while semi-gloss works nicely on columns, railings and window sashes. Be sure to ask your local paint merchant for advice on the best way to proceed and the tools and paint supplies you’ll need for your project.

Get more outdoor project ideas in our DIY & Home Improvement guide.