Farrow & Ball, Pantalon 221
Choosing an exterior trim color for a home is not an easy task. In fact, I think it’s probably one of the most challenging colors to choose. I receive emails almost daily from readers wondering where and how to start in choosing just the right color that compliments the exterior of a home. Most of the time, readers have contacted me after they have agonized for weeks over colors and just have no idea how to make a final decision.
(By the way, all of the images in this post have the name of the trim paint color directly below the image).
Chestnut Sherwin Williams
Today I thought I would share my tips to nailing the perfect exterior trim color for your home quickly and painlessly. There are some really easy tricks that make the decision a lot easier and less agonizing. When I choose interior paint colors, I use an elimination process and I do the exact same thing with exterior colors. By eliminating undertones and shades, your ideal paint color stands out and you can pinpoint your perfect color almost instantly.
Before I get into my tips and tricks, I have pulled together some of the best exterior trim colors that I have come across for this week’s printable color palette:
(As a reminder, each Color Palette Monday is a printable palette. It makes a huge difference to look at paint colors that have been printed out on paper, versus your computer monitor. It helps even more if you print out the palettes on smooth white card stock. My palettes should not be used to replace a paint color card, so if you see a color you like, please refer to a paint color card).
Here is the link to this week’s printable palette: Printable Color Palette #10
1) The first thing to do when looking at changing your exterior trim color is to eliminate undertones that you know that you do not want and to decide if you want the trim color to blend in and fade into the color of your home or if you want the color to contrast:
Examples of trim colors that blend in and fade:
Relaxed Khaki Sherwin Williams
Examples of trim colors that contrast:
Wool Skein Sherwin Williams
Zinc by Pratt and Lambert
Urbane Bronze Sherwin Williams
2) Once you decide if you want your color to blend in or contrast, determine “roughly” what shade of color you want. If you have a brick home, you can take one of your bricks to Sherwin Williams and have them color match either your darkest or lightest shade brick. If you do not have an extra brick, ask Sherwin Williams for a fan deck and match the brick to a paint color in the fan deck.
If you have multi-color bricks and you want your trim color to blend and fade, I recommend choosing the brick color that is the medium shade (not the lightest and not the darkest). If you want to contrast your brick color, choose the darkest or lightest brick color to match.
For homes that are not brick and you want your trim to blend in, either go up or down one or two shades of the paint color of the home. To contrast, consider going either white (or off white), or dark (black, dark brown or dark gray):
Contrasting with white:
Pure White Sherwin Williams
Dove White Sherwin Williams
Contrasting with dark:
Color Unknown but close to Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams
Iron Mountain Benjamin Moore
If you’re thinking about using white, ask Sherwin Williams to add 10% of your house paint color to Pure White. Sherwin Williams Pure White has a white base, so it’s a true white and adding just a hint of your house color will ensure that the undertones will be the same as the home. This will make a huge difference rather than just using white.
3) If you are still having difficulty pinpointing the color that you want, you can use the search feature by typing in your house color on Houzz (red brick, yellow house, tan brick, etc..) and you can see tons of examples of homes painted in your color for all kinds of various trim color inspiration:
Also, another great source for exterior trim inspiration is to look at interior paint colors that you love for possibilities. One of the most popular and universal interior paint colors that contractors and designers use because they work well with almost anything is Fieldstone and Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore:
Cabinets painted in Fieldstone by Benjamin Moore
Revere Pewter Benjamin Moore
4) Once you have determine “roughly”, what color/shade that you think you want, pick up a sample quart in the color that is close to what you want and paint two large poster boards with the color and tape it to your front door (you basically want to try and cover your front door). Walk out to your street and look at the color first thing in the morning, early afternoon and evening. Depending on the time of day, a strange hue can pop out. Take notes about what you like and don’t like about the color at different times of the day.
Texas Leather Benjamin Moore
If your sample color and hue/undertone is just right but the color is too dark or too light, have the guys at the paint store mix up another sample by either adding 50% white (lighten) or 50% of the next color down on the paint card (darker). Paint two more poster boards and tape to the door again and observe the color throughout the day.
If the color is really close to what you want but it has a strange hue and undertone that is not working, tell the guys at the paint store what the problem is (too green, too blue, too beige, etc..) and they will know precisely what color to add to offset the undertone by tweaking and adding a particular color. Once they tweak your color, get another sample mix and paint the two poster boards again and observe it throughout the day.
Door is Black Beauty Sherwin Williams
I can’t stress enough how the guys at the paint stores (Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore) can really help you with this process. Most of these guys have been working with paints for years and have a level of expertise and tools that can really help you zone in on your perfect color in minutes. They love to help in any way that they can and they know exactly what to add or decrease to get a specific color. Do not hesitate to take in a picture of your home and some pictures of paint colors that you like and tell them what you’re looking for and they will take it from there.
5) Once you have pinpointed your trim color, you will need to decide on the sheen of the paint. This is really a personal preference and I prefer as matter as I can get the paint.
I know I have written a novel here but I know so many of you are really struggling with choosing a trim color. I hope that my little tricks will help eliminate the agony of choosing just the right color. I know it’s daunting because it’s so expensive to hire a house painter and the thought of hating the color hangs over our heads. If you do the poster board trick, you will eliminate the worry and will find a color that you love.
Thanks for hanging out with me today and if you have missed any of the previous Color Palette Mondays, you can look through them here.