House Color Schemes – How To Choose The Right Colors For Your Home

Choosing the right house color scheme can be challenging- but we’re here to help. These tips and tricks will help you choose a color scheme that is perfect for your home.

Ingredients in Exterior Paint

Most exterior paints have the same basic ingredients, but the proportions vary from brand to brand. The common ingredients include: 

Solvents are the ingredient that causes your paint to be “wet.” Solvents will evaporate over time as your paint starts to dry. What’s left after this happens is the main components in the paint – resins, additives, and resins. 

Out of the three remaining components, the pigment is what colors your paint. Additives are responsible for giving the paint different properties, like being able to resist mildew. Finally, the resins in the paint bind the paint to whatever surface you apply it on. They’re typically made out of epoxy, acrylic, or silicone. 

The solvents and pigments share a range of similarities in both interior and exterior paint types. For exterior use, oil or water-based paints can be used without a problem. For interior painting, you shouldn’t use an oil-based paint because they’re difficult to clean and have a strong odor to them. So, to recap, the biggest ingredients are: 

  • Additives: The additives control the leveling, drying time, and mildew repellent nature of the paint, plus a few other things.       
  • Binders:  Binders are the resins that work to form the film on the paint once the solvents evaporate.    .
  • Pigments: Pigments are powdered minerals that come in man-made colors that give the paint the opacity and hue. 
  • Solvents: These are quick-to-evaporate liquids that keep the pigments and binders in suspension.      

1 New Exterior Paint
Exterior Paint Maplewood NJ by Olger Fallas / CC BY-SA 2.0 It’s essential that you use exterior paint on  your home to ensure it lasts long and looks nice when you finish.

The Most Popular Color Schemes

Most color schemes include two or three colors; the main color, the accent color for large trim and shutters, and sometimes an additional trim color that may be used on doors or window ledges.  Let’s get started by looking at the most popular color schemes that are trending now.

Three Color Combinations:

  • White and sage green
  • White and carbon black
  • White and navy blue
  • Pale pink and white
  • Dark gray and white
  • Forest green and carbon black
  • Yellow and dove gray

Two-Color Combinations:

  • Deep teal, white, and red
  • Forest green, white, and black
  • Yellow, white, and carbon black
  • Dove gray, Carbon black, and red
  • Barn red, white, and sage green
  • Toffee, cream, and red
  • Sage green, pale yellow, bright white

How to Choose Color Schemes that Complement the Style of Your Home

Certain colors lend themselves to a particular style of home. Different color combinations evoke a feeling and essence of certain design styles. You must also consider the style of your home when choosing which colors you will apply to which exterior paint elements. Here are some popular home styles and their exterior color elements that will be taking color.

Jones House Seward NE.JPG

Sanford Kane House Apr10
Queen Anne Victorian
Craftsman- Craftsman homes are having a moment of popularity. If you own one, updating your house color scheme will really bring this style of home to life.

Walnut Street South 1403 Monon SA

Ranch- Ranch homes rose to popularity in the 1950s and still comprise a large number of home-styles in the United States today. Here are some popular exterior color combos for ranch homes.

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Cape Cod– These homes can be one or one and a half stories,  and most often recognized for their dominant shutters. This element makes cape cod’s particularly interesting to use with a contrasting house color scheme.

home color schemes

Considering Curb Appeal

When you are choosing your house color scheme, you should consider where your home is located. Think of your home’s surroundings like a backdrop in a painting. Your color choice will depend on whether you want your home to blend into its surroundings or boldly pop.

  • Neighborhood

Depending on where you live, you may have to consider your neighborhood guidelines for changing or painting the exterior color of your home and changing the exterior paint color. Some developments or communities have regulations that must be followed when it comes to altering the curb appeal of your home.

  • Surrounding houses

Even if this is not mandatory consideration, you might want to consider nearby houses and see if you think your color scheme will be pleasing to your eye when viewed against the backdrop of the surrounding homes.

  • Natural elements

Just like surrounding houses, the natural setting that surrounds your house plays an important role in the color scheme you choose. For example, if you live in a wooded area with a lot of browns and greens, you may want to choose a neutral or warm palette to harmonize your home with nature’s colors. Or, you may want to choose colors that contrast your natural surroundings if you want your house to pop against its backdrop.

More to Consider When Choosing House Colors

There are many factors to consider when you are choosing a color scheme for your home. Here are the things you want to look at in order to get a holistic idea of what a certain house color scheme will look like on your home.

  • Size of your home

You will want to consider the size of your home when you are choosing the right colors. Depending on if you want a subtle or commanding finished look, the color palette you choose should have more or fewer colors involved depending on the size of your home. Smaller homes with less detail will mainly call for two paint colors, while a larger home with more detail might allow for more colors in your house color scheme.

  • Different exterior color elements

There are different elements of exterior house colors that will play into what colors you choose for your home. Homes that have many decorative trims and railings will be able to hold more colors. While homes with simple architecture will lend themselves to a simpler palette. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a bold color choice if your home is small, just that there will be fewer elements with which to create contrast.

  • Cost

There are a few things that will affect the cost of having your home painted. The biggest factors that determine the price of the exterior home painting are:

  • Square footage
  • Exterior color elements
  • Type of paint, primer, finish
  • Type of siding
  • Local contractor costs

You will want to consider these items when you are getting ready to make a budget to have your home painted. You can also consider painting your house yourself if you feel like you want to learn a few new skills and have the tools you will need to get the job done.

How To Choose The Right House Color Scheme

3 Color Schemes
Eugene and Mary Funk House by Randy von Liski / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Although you may want to go big and bold with your house color scheme, it’s essential that you choose colors that go well with the neighborhood and blend with your accents. 

The options for house colors are as varied as the owners who reside there. Now that we have looked at the different elements of style and color, let’s look at the steps you can take to choose the right paint colors for your home.

  1. Consider the style of your home 

The paint you choose should complement the style of your home. We talked a bit about some of the most popular style homes and some color schemes that compliment them. If your house fits into one of these categories you may already have a good idea of which house color scheme you want to go with. Maybe your home style falls somewhere in between the architectural types we shared. Either way, you can use visual inspiration to think about what colors will look best on your home.

  1. Choose your paint color personality

Some house color combinations are very of the moment, while others are timeless and classic. You can get a good idea of which version to go with when choosing your color scheme by looking at the color and design choices you make around the rest of your home. Does your decor reflect the trends of the moment in style and color? Or is your home full of classic furniture and accessories? Whether you are trendy or classic in your home design choices you will do well to make a similar choice when you are considering an exterior house color scheme.

  1. Consider your surroundings

As we shared earlier in the article, you will want to consider things like your neighborhood, including any restrictions or guidelines that your community may have on the rules of home exterior colors, your natural surroundings, and the other homes that are nearby when choosing the colors for your home.

  1. Take note of the exterior color elements of your home

Depending on the type of home you have, you will have varying exterior color elements that may be getting painted. In addition to your main siding material, take a look at any additional structure on the exterior of your home, such as trim, shutters, railings, headings, and aprons. You will also want to consider the current color of your roof when choosing a house color scheme. Another trend that is popping up everywhere right now is to use a pop of color on your front door.

  1. Decide on a budget

After you have chosen a style for your home color scheme, you will want to set a budget for yourself. Many contractors will charge more for additional colors when painting your home. The more colors you have the higher the price tag may be. Luckily, most exterior paint color schemes only have two to three different colors involved. You will also need to have your hired professional look at how detailed the paintwork is for your type of architecture and the amount of exterior paint needed.

  1. Research and hire a professional in your area

Now that you are clear on the style and the budget, you can research the best local professionals in your area. Houzz.com is a good place to look for local contractors and house painters. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a good contractor. Check with people you know who have had paintwork done and see if they have any recommendations to share.

Points for Picking House Colors with Brick or Stone Elements

If you incorporate brick or stone areas in your home that you don’t plan to paint, these areas have more of a say in which color or colors will work than  you may think. Unless your home is wood clapboard siding or a synthetic equivalent with painted wood trim and no other material, you have limited options based on whatever unpainted materials you chose for your home. 

 A lot of homes have an entire side of the home faced in stone or brick, or they may have the lower half or some entry columns wrapped with local stone. If the house has more contemporary design to it, you could have large areas of unpainted steel or concrete. Any paint color you pick out has to mix well with these elements. 

So, one of the first things you have to do is consider these non-painted surfaces when you’re looking an exterior home colors, even if you don’t usually pay attention to them. You can do this by deciding which undertones you have in these materials. Undertones can range from taupe to pink-beige, to blue-grey. Whatever undertones you identify, you need to note them so you can design your paint color around them so they coordinate. Otherwise, the newly painted areas can clash badly with your natural elements. 

Identifying Which Undertones Your Stone or Brick Home Has

Your stone or brick will have one of the following undertones to them, and this is what you need to use to coordinate your exterior paint color: 

  • Blue-gray
  • Gold-beige
  • Green-beige
  • Green-gray
  • Orange-beige
  • Pink-beige
  • Taupe
  • Violet-gray
  • Yellow-beige

Note that finding out your exact undertones isn’t an exact science, and a lot of your undertones can seem to straddle the line between two categories. But, you have to get as close as possible to the correct undertone. Remember that you’ll view your colors in context to whatever is around them. 

If you put two color chips side by side, you’d notice that one will look more “pink” or “green”, or “warmer” or “cooler.” If you can pin down the undertone on your brick or stone siding with a good degree of confidence, you can make a more educated decision about your paint color choice. 

Once you get the undertone you’re going to work with, you can pick out a couple of different color options and give them a test. You won’t have to match the stone or brick coloring, but the paint has to share an undertone with it. 

Consider a More Muted Tone Over a Bright Color

Even if you’re a huge fan of bright colors, it’s a good idea to go with muted colors on your home’s exterior. Bright saturated colors can easily look unnatural, artificial or even tacky on your home. When you get the correct undertone, you can easily decide which neutral color will look best with it. 

It won’t be a very strong color. Although a beach house can easily get away with mint green or turquoise blue with a lot of contrasting white trim, your home will have to semi-blend in. Neutral is the best pick for you, nine times out of ten. The bright color can be for the accent of your home like a front door

Don’t Pick a Bright White if You Want a Off-White or White Home

Many people make the mistake of picking out a color that is far too light. Colors look a lot brighter when you see them outdoors. For example, you could hold a piece of paper outside during a sunny day and see that it looks blinding. You don’t want to turn your home into a huge reflector. 

Instead, a good rule is to choose a color that is two or three shades darker from the top of the paint strip when you’re looking at exterior colors. The pretty white homes you see featured in magazines or online are most likely a cream color, beige, or a beige-grey. 

4 White House 1
Smithy Cottage Glenelg by Frank Pickavant / CC BY-ND 2.0 It surprises a lot of people to know that white houses are actually an off or grey-tinged white color. Using pure white would make it blinding to look at when the light hits it. 

If You Love Cool Colors, Choose Something Warmer

If you love grey, but it can quickly look too cool with a slightly blue tone to it. You have to keep in mind that natural sunlight already has a cool tone to it, so it’s going to make whatever cool color you pick out look even cooler and darker when it hits it. So, you’ll have to counteract this by picking out a slightly warmer color to compensate for the sun’s natural cool tone. 

Exterior Paint Surface Concerns

When you paint different elements on your home with exterior paint, it’s natural to worry how they’re going to turn out. After all, these accent pieces can make or break your color schemes, so keep the following in mind to ensure everything pulls together well. 

Brick

  • Good to Know:
    • It’s a big trend right now to paint brick, and it’s common to see it painted grey, white, or an olive green. 
  • Good to Use: 
    • You want to use a masonry primer that is pH-balanced especially for brci. You also need a block-filler primer to smooth out crannies and nooks on the surface. It’s popular to apply a translucent paint and let the underlying brick’s shades bleed through. To get this look, using Ramabio Classico Limewash is a good pick. 

Cedar Shingles

    • Good to Know: 
      • You have a potential to end up with tannin bleeds when you paint them. The shingles have natural tannins that seep into your paint and cause a brownish-red discoloration. It can happen if you try to paint redwood siding too. 
  • Good to Use: 

Doors + Windows

    • Good to Know: 
      • Once you paint your door and before you hang it back up, give the paint at least 24 hours to dry to ensure it doesn’t smudge. 
  • Good to Use: 
    • Consider using a very high-gloss paint that is easy to wipe to clean it. It will look polished, and it’ll create a nice visual contrast to the surrounding surfaces. 

Fiber Cement Siding

  • Good to Know: 
      • It’s possible to repaint composite siding, including Hardie board. You should sand it very well to remove any troublesome spots before you paint. 
  • Good to Use: 
    • Get a 100% acrylic primer with a high-quality acrylic latex paint. 

Stucco

  • Good to Know: 
      • It can be faster to paint stucco than it is to paint vinyl siding because it doesn’t need as much prep work. The rough texture will darken whatever paint color you pick out though. 
  • Good to Use: 
    • Consider buying and using an elastomeric paint. The thicker makeup will prevent mildew, cracks, and other problems related to moisture, especially if you live in a humid climate. 

Wood Siding and Trim

    • Good to Know: 
      • If your home is classified as a scraper that is covered in cracking, bubbling, or peeling paint, the project price will go up. Removing this layer will take a lot longer than the painting will.  
  • Good to Use: 
    • Get a paint with a satin finish because it’s durable and flattering for your siding. The semigloss can help the trim stand out more.

Differences Between Interior and Exterior Paint

There are many subtle differences between interior and exterior paint. However, the biggest one is the choice of resin. The resin is the component in the paint that will bind the pigment to whatever surface you’re applying the paint to. 

Exterior paint is usually more durable because it does well with being exposed to large temperature swings and moisture. It also resists chipping, fading, and peeling. Because of this, when companies make exterior paint, they have to make the resins softer. 

Large temperature swings and fluctuating moisture levels aren’t an issue for interior paint types. In response to this, companies can make the resins in this type of paint more rigid. So, this stops the paint from scuffing and smearing. 

Exterior Paint Characteristics:

  • Exterior paint is unsafe for use indoors because it can release volatile organic compounds. It also requires sunlight to cure. 
  • Exterior paint gets exposed to different weather conditions. So, it has to be able to give more protection against moisture caused by different weather conditions and ultraviolet radiation from the sunlight. Finally, it has to protect against fungal growth. 
  • As we touched on, the resins in this type of paint are soft. This softness makes them very flexible. So, they won’t crack easily if they contact or expand. This lets them survive temperature and moisture changes without damage. 
  • The paint is made to combat mildew and fading. 
  • By changing the paint’s sheen, you can easily apply it to several different substrates. During the rain, the exterior of your home will absorb small amounts of water. Flat paint will allow the water to escape without bubbling up. 

Where Can You Switch Interior and Exterior Paint?

The short answer is never. With exterior paints, the resins can cause something called outgassing. It usually doesn’t take much longer than two days for it to finish, but it can continue in smaller amounts for years at a time. So, you should never use exterior paints indoors. 

For masonry and stucco, you want to use a flat sheen exterior paint. This type of paint will allow these surfaces to breathe by allowing moisture to escape without causing bubbles. It’s extremely important to have it in brick walls. 

Interior paints are also much more delicate than exterior ones. They don’t outgas the same way the other paints do either, and this makes them safe to use indoors. You do need to have adequate ventilation though. They won’t survive long outdoors without peeling. 

What to Know When Hiring a Professional Painter

If the thought of standing on a ladder in the sun or win isn’t appealing, you can find a reputable painter or painting company to take on the job for you. You can start searching by asking family and friends before going to local Facebook groups. Look at any nearby painter’s website to see if they have a gallery with examples of finished projects so you can get a good feel for how thorough they are. You can also use the Home Depot’s proreferral.com that will match your project with contractors and help you get estimates. 

The cost to paint your home will vary largely by region, size, home style, condition, and materials. It may fluctuate by season too. The starting figure is right around $3.00 a square foot of floor space, so you’d pay right around $6,000 for a 2,000-square-foot-home. The estimates you get usually include prep work, paint, labor, and supplies. The contractor is also able to color match from any brand you picked out, and the project can take a  couple of weeks from start to finish.  

Frequently Asked Questions

House Color Scheme FAQs
Painting the Top by Jon Hurd / CC BY 2.0 Painting a house can be a huge project, so it’s normal to have questions before you take it on or hire a professional to do it. 

1. Which exterior paint type lasts the longest?

Acrylic paint will last the longest out of all of them, and it has a reputation for resisting a huge amount of weather damage. It comes with excellent fading resistance and it resists damage well from sunlight exposure. This makes it excellent for homes in hot climates or regions. 

2. What is the best exterior paint finish?

With every type being on even ground, most people prefer to have an eggshell or satin finish on the exterior of their home. A satin/eggshell finish will satisfy any basic maintenance points while giving you a nice look that appeals to a huge range of homeowners. 

3. How much does a gallon of exterior paint cost?

A single gallon of exterior paint can range from below $20.00 to up to over $100. Higher-priced options come with better ingredients, and this can make them last longer and be more durable. 

4. How long will your new paint last?

How long the paint lasts depends on what you apply it to. Two coats of high-quality paint over primed wood could last up to 15 years. Two coats on a stucco surface could last almost double that. 

Wrapping up

Choosing a color palette that is the perfect fit for your home will give new life to the exterior  color of your home and improve curb appeal. While choosing the exterior color of your home and the exterior paint needed is a big decision, if you use these tips and tricks we shared in this article, you will be able to choose a house color scheme that will improve the look of your home and that you will love for many years.

Brown Rustic Photo Home Pinterest Graphic

House Color Scheme 1 House Color Scheme 2