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Choosing exterior paint colors for your house can be tricky. Painting an entire house is a big job, so you want to pick colors you can live with for the long haul.
Which colors should be on your radar? Over time, certain colors become trendy, in part because new home buyers bring a new sense of style to a neighborhood. Color experts at major paint manufacturers note trends around the country and look for hints from a variety of industries. These experts work with a team to create new palettes for the body of the house, trim, and doors, and to give the colors memorable or evocative names.
This year, darker shades are in. “Dark grays or blacks have been trending, and dark slate blues are seen more often as well,” says Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at Behr.
Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, agrees. “In general, darker, moodier colors are becoming more popular in the home, so it makes sense that all-black exteriors are gaining in popularity,” she says. “They’re just so different from what has been done in the past, and people are gravitating towards the modern look, even on traditional-style homes.”
That said, you still can’t go wrong with neutrals. “Tans, taupes, whites, and grays tend to be a few of the most popular colors for exteriors,” Woelfel says. Neutrals are a safe bet if you’re thinking of putting your house on the market in the near future. They serve as a blank slate for potential buyers, allowing them to envision the house in their own style.
In Consumer Reports’ paint tests, we’ve found that exterior paints, as a group, are more durable and last longer than they used to. Just five to seven years ago, few of the paints in our tests could last nine years; now, all but one does.
Below, in alphabetical order, are six palettes that experts from leading paint brands say are popular this year. We also highlight a paint from each brand that performs well in our exterior paint ratings. CR members with digital access can read reviews and see ratings of these exterior paints.
“A fresh coat of neutral paint feels clean and fresh,” Woelfel says. This house combines a neutral with popular dark accent colors for a modern look. The house is painted Smoky White BWC-13; the front door, Nocturne Blue HDC-CL-28. Behr Black was used for the window frames, porch columns, and garage door.
Woelfel recommends using a flat finish for the main body of the house, and a semigloss for the trim and front door to add shine. Lately, high-gloss paints have been trending for front doors as well, she adds.
“The dominant colors of this exterior are grays and deep charcoals, with yellow serving as an unexpected accent color,” says Andrea Magno, color marketing and development director at Benjamin Moore. Storm AF-700 was used for the body of this house, and for the trim, Gray Owl OC-52. Witching Hour 2120-30, an off-black with a hint of blue, coats the doors, and the ceiling is Marblehead Gold HC-11.
Magno points out that using an accent color to add personality to a house is a great way to make it stand out. It can also be a way to tie in a color that continues inside for a cohesive palette. “In this instance, the porch ceiling was a great way to introduce the yellow accent that is carried through the home,” Magno says.
Neutrals, like the cool gray used on this siding, are popular because they provide a fresh, clean look and enhance any exterior, says Julie Elrod, manager of the paint business at Ace Hardware, the exclusive seller of Clark+Kensington paint. Adding a pop of color to doors, shutters, or window boxes freshens up the space. This front door is painted Citron 21B-5. The siding is Stone Fireplace N-C12, and the trim is done in Designer White 1066.
Elrod suggests buying a quart of the paint in the color and sheen you’re considering for the siding, trim, and door, and trying them out on your house to see if you like the combination. Look at the colors at various times of the day, as the light changes.
“Caramel beiges act as neutrals and are great backdrops to what you put in front of it, especially pops of pink and red in the landscaping for this particular home,” says Lindsey Ray, marketing manager for PPG’s Glidden paints. Chicory PPG1095-6 covers the body of the house, and the trim is Delicate White PPG1001-1. The shutters are Black Magic PPG1001-7, and the door is painted Bark PPG1007-7, a deep grayish brown.
Earthy tones, like Chicory, coordinate naturally with greenery—trees, shrubs, and grass—and with the red brick walkway. When choosing a palette for your home’s exterior, consider the color of your roof, brick, and stone, along with any other elements that you won’t be changing, including your landscaping, Ray says.
“Instead of going for the typical contrast trim, paint your trim and siding the same color for a cohesive look,” Wadden says. “Add a warm and welcoming pop of color on the front door.” This house is painted Cyberspace SW 7076, a deep charcoal, in a satin sheen. The same color in a higher sheen (semigloss) is on the trim. Coral Clay SW 9005, a rosy pink, coats the front door.
If you’re trying to decide on a dramatic change to your house, it may help to look to your neighborhood for inspiration. While you want to avoid copying the colors of the houses outright, “try to play off your neighbors’ homes and use complementary colors for a cohesive neighborhood look,” Wadden says.
“Golden neutral shades are growing in popularity for exteriors because of the welcoming and warmth it brings to the curb appeal of your home,” says Sue Kim, color marketing manager at Valspar. This siding is painted Sandy Cove 3005-10A, and the trim is done in Ultra White 7006-24. The door is Ocean Sigh 5002-10A.
When the body of the house is a neutral color, it allows you to try out bold colors, such as this blue. If you’re unhappy with how your door turns out, it’s easy to repaint it. (If you do this yourself, check the paint can to see what weather conditions are required so that the paint cures properly.)
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