EXTERIOR paint suggestions

An existing house isn’t a blank canvas – after all, you’re not changing the color of the roof, the brick or stone, and maybe not even the windows (if they’re vinyl or aluminum clad). Roofs and masonry walls are large areas of unbroken color and natural starting points for creating a palette.

An exterior paint scheme should be made up of at least three colors: The field, or large areas such as walls or roofs. The trim, which are corner boards, window trim, fascias, rakes, etc. The accent, or specific elements including doors, shutters, and other architectural features.

Field colors make up the majority of what you’ll see on the house and will lead you to the choice of trim and accent.

Are you trying to make your house look a little more prominent on the street? A lighter field color will make it look larger; a darker color will visually shrink it. Lighter colors can also make a house look visually flimsy, while darker colors can give it a strong, solid appearance.

But it’s the trim color that can make or break the scheme. Painting the trim the same color as the field can work in some cases, but it can also give the house an “unfinished” or “wedding cake” look. Darker trim – especially around the windows – can cause a “frame” effect, where the windows look like pictures hung on a wall.

Keeping the trim lighter than the field is almost always a safe bet.

Gutters, downspouts, and similar elements should usually be painted the trim color to help them “disappear” into the background.

The accent color is where the excitement is. Once you’ve chosen an attractive combination of field and trim, make it “pop” with an eye-catching accent color. It’s a tool to give life to an otherwise muted color scheme and draws attention to the important features of the house.

The front door, shutters, and the windows frames (not the trim) are good places for accent colors. Windows painted with accent and trim colors together can be the most interesting part of the composition.

Match The Paint Scheme To The Style

The two most important considerations in choosing a color scheme are the architecture of the house and the neighborhood context.

Historic architectural styles, for example, look best in their original color schemes, although these can vary quite a bit. Original Colonial and Colonial Revival homes were often quite colorful on the inside, but less so on the exterior.

Often they were painted in a single color for the field and trim, with a second color for an accent. Combined with prominent red brick chimneys and a brick or stone base, the effect is a three-color scheme.

Victorian homes – often referred to as “painted ladies” – sometimes showed off six or more colors of trim and accent. Making that look good today takes the services of a color specialist and a lot of time. But a similar effect can be had with as little as three colors if they’re well placed on the house.

The Craftsman style of the early 20th Century sported a darker, earthier color scheme using deep browns, greens, and reds. The current popularity of the style is making more homeowners consider richer color schemes for their homes.

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Popular Q&A

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How many gallons of exterior paint to cover a 1300 sq ft brick wall

I would count on needing about 5 gallons. Paint shops often have
specials on 5 gallon buckets anyway.

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