How to Choose an Exterior Paint Color for Your Home

The color of your home is often the first thing that anyone notices. That’s especially true if the home is a different color from the surrounding homes. For aesthetic reasons, you should consider different colors before you make a decision on exterior paint. You should also pick colors carefully for functional reasons. For example, different colors will absorb heat and light differently. Also, different colors will need different kinds of maintenance.

Light Reflectance Value (LRV)

The light reflectance value of any paint measures how much light the paint reflects as opposed to how much it absorbs. Light quickly turns into heat; so, a paint that absorbs more light will heat up the walls. If you are living somewhere cold and rainy, absorbing light and heat can be a blessing. Places like New England and the Pacific Northwest are often known for dark paint colors.

In sunnier locales, the exterior paint colors trend towards brighter and lighter colors. These light colors reflect heat and also better match the sunny blue skies.


There are also some maintenance concerns when choosing a paint color. If you choose a dark color, they will show any lightly-colored dirt very prominently. For example, sand and clay are often very visible against a dark home. If you have sand and clay in your yard, you might not want a dark color. Alternately, dark soil and leaves will not show up very prominently against a dark home.

For most people, darker colors require less maintenance. However, they will begin to fade faster and more noticeably. As a pastel exterior color fades, it will not be noticeably lighter than the surrounding area.

Material Concerns

Another thing you should consider is the material that you’ll be painting on. Painting on stucco or other materials means that your paint should last about five to seven years. However, if you’re painting over wood, it will start to age in about three years. Wood is also more porous than many other materials. That means it will soak up some measure of the paint. If you apply a thin coat over a stucco exterior and then the same coat over the wood trim, the wood trim will likely look different from the stucco. The wood will absorb paint, the grain will show through, and the base color of the wood will affect the finish.

None of that is a problem, but it does mean you need to consider the materials when choosing your paint color.

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