Follow These Steps to Choose Exterior House Colors


Selecting exterior house colors is a difficult job, but if you follow these important steps I can assure you the process will be much easier. 

When it comes time to select exterior house colors, whether you are building and making all of the selections at once or just replacing one of the key features of your home, it’s a good idea to start with some research.  Many of us rush out to the paint store or siding and roofing contractors and forget the most important part of the process….making sure we know what we want!

Well selecting exterior house colors, meaning new roofing, siding, garage door, windows and entry door colors are difficult decisions.  They cover large surfaces and they are expensive!  So you really don’t want to make a color mistake.  Do your research first.


Start with home magazines.  You can find them in the grocery store, book store, even in the doctor’s office!  Take a look at the exterior house colors combinations that are appealing to you and determine why you like them.  It may be the siding color, perhaps it has stone on the façade, or you may find that it’s the landscaping you are drawn to and you can save yourself some money!!  You can do the same thing with architecture books and regional magazines that show photo after photo of home exteriors.


I have also found that historical color palettes put together by paint companies can be helpful.  They even have color combinations put together from their regular color palette and they can be so helpful.  Remember, an expert in color has put them together for you!


And, one of the simplest ways to get color ideas is to drive through your neighborhood, or perhaps a neighborhood in your area that you are particularly fond of.  Check for homes that have the same roof color as yours or the same brick if you have any surfaces that won’t be changing.

Then, keep in mind that there is an order to how you select your exterior house colors.  For example, you wouldn’t pick the shutter color before you select the siding.  So the order goes pretty much from top to bottom:

a. Roof        e. Garage Doors
b. Siding      f. Front Doors
c. Trim        g. Accessories
d. Windows


Let’s start with roofing then.  Roof colors are generally warm or cool whether they are asphalt shingles, cedar shingles, tin or clay tiles.  The warm roofing colors are the browns, reds, oranges and tans and they can dictate the rest of your exterior house colors.  Generally, a warm roof looks much better with a warm siding color.


And obviously the opposite holds true for cool roofing colors.  They work best with cool colored siding and trim.  The cool roof colors are generally the blacks, cool grays, blues and sometimes the green family.


When the roofing and the siding don’t match in temperature, something just doesn’t seem right as you can see in this example.


Now let’s take a look at siding. These are some beautiful examples of vinyl siding, aren’t the colors so soft and pretty?  They really have improved their color selection over the past few years along with the addition of a foam backing for energy efficiency.  Anyway, siding is the largest surface on your home, and EVERYONE sees your exterior, so your siding decision is critical.

Here’s where all that research you did early on pays off.  You’ve probably already checked out the magazines and books and have driven around your neighborhood and have a stack of photos and color ideas already.  But, here are a few other things to think about when selecting your siding color.

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* KEEP ROOF and other non-changing materials like BRICK and STONE in mind as you select siding colors.


*Consider the LANDSCAPE surrounding your home.  If there are no trees – use natural hues.  If you have lots of trees – you can choose a color that contrasts with the greenery.


*CLASSICS always look picture perfect.  Ex.: A colonial style home always looks right in white with black shutters and a red door.

*CHANGE THE SIZE of your home by choosing light colors to enlarge and dark colors to shrink!

Trim is next on the list and it includes window and door trim, fascias, vents, dentils, brackets, posts, railings, gingerbread, etc.

*The rule of thumb with trim is take the SAFEST ROUTE and go two steps lighter or slightly darker than siding color.


*Or, you can just go the CLASSIC route and use either white or off white for your trim.  Keep in mind that the warmer color palette looks best with the off whites and the cooler color palette goes best with white.


*Beware of HIGH CONTRAST colors because HIGH CONTRASTING TRIM will OUTLINE your home and make it look like a coloring book.

Now if any of you have purchased new windows recently, you know that your color selections are limited, and that’s just fine, white, off white and sometimes a bronze are offered and those colors go with just about everything.  Do your best to match your trim color and you’ll be fine.  If you are painting wood windows you can be more creative of course.

*LIGHT window frames that contrast with the siding make windows seem larger and make the impression of the interior as OPEN and SUNNY.

*DARK window frames lessen the impact of the window and may make the home look DREARY.


Then we move on to garage doors, which might seem odd, because you would think that the entrance of your home would be more important, and really they are equally important it’s just that the garage doors on your home can be up to as much as 30% of your home’s exterior.  I guess it depends on whether you see it from the street or if it is tucked behind or to the side of your home, but it is a very large surface.  So basically, the placement of your garage door will help determine what type of design statement and finish you should choose.


*Near the street, should BLEND into the siding and trim colors DETAILING can still occur with pretty windows and moldings.

*IN LINE with the house, can CONTRAST in color or Blend and show off intricate DETAILS.


Just look at some of these garage doors by Haas Door.  You know, replacing a worn out garage door can really add value to your home as I’m sure you can see from these gorgeous options.


And remember, this is usually the first thing YOU see when you arrive back home, so make sure it’s the gives you the warm welcome you deserve when you are back from a tough day out in the world.


Now, when it comes time to really make a statement at your home, one that any guest arriving at your home will see, you make it at your front entrance.

This is the one area that you can say who you are without actually being there yourself.  So, give it all the personality you can, and your front door is the perfect place to make a FIRST IMPRESSION.


*Use interesting panel details, inset windows, color or wood grain to MAKE A STATEMENT.

*The COLOR of your front door should STAND OUT against the siding, trim and perhaps other accent colors.

*WOOD DOORS give the appearance of quality and elegance.


One of our sponsors, ProVia Door, has software that allows you to put your own home into the mix and try different door styles on your home.  It’s a great tool to make these difficult decisions just a little bit easier. Ask your local entry door dealer if he can design a door for you using ProVia Studio software.


Accessories are the final step, from shutters and window boxes to lighting, door hardware, mailboxes, fences and more.  Since that is such a huge topic, I think we’ll save it for another time.

So get your exterior in good shape first by doing your research, considering your home from top to bottom, and by making good sound color choices that will make you AND your exterior house colors, the envy of your neighborhood!


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