Tips and Tricks for Choosing Exterior Trim Colors {Color Palette Monday}..

Tips and tricks for choosing the perfect exterior trim color {The Creativity Exchange}


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:


Tips and tricks for choosing the perfect exterior trim color {The Creativity Exchange}

(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



via Me and Jilly

via Me and Jilly

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:

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 9.56.58 AM


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.



via Benjamin Moore Color Chats

via Benjamin Moore Color Chats

 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.



This entry was posted in Color Palette Monday, color palettes, Paint Colors. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Tips and Tricks for Choosing Exterior Trim Colors {Color Palette Monday}..

  1. Great post! I love changing the rooms in my house with paint, but the exterior is far more daunting (and more expensive) to do. I know we’re not too far off from having to have our exterior painted, and I’ve already started to contemplate what I want! I love the high contrast photos you shared – definitely a big decision. I remember my parents having their house painted, and my mom hated it – not fun! Pinning for future reference!

    • Cyndy says:

      You’re right Jenny, it’s such a big and expensive job to paint exterior trim that the pressure to nail the color is overwhelming. I love my trim color now (taupe) but I think I’m going to go dark when I have it painted this fall. Urbane Bronze is probably exactly what I’ll go with. My brick is a light color, so the contrast will really be dramatic. Thanks for stopping by Jenny!!

  2. Megan says:

    These are all beautiful colors. That Urbane Bronze is gorgeous on the exterior. I’ve only seen people use it on the interior…actually I picked up that paint chip yesterday at Sherwin Williams. I may have to consider it for the outside. 🙂 Love your ideas as always, Cyndy.

    • Cyndy says:

      Oh yes, Urbane Bronze is probably one of my favorites for exteriors! I think its one of those universal colors that look amazing anywhere!! Thanks sweet Megan! Hope you’re feeling good!! Big hugs!

  3. Lauren says:

    Great post Cyndy!

  4. Sandra says:

    Hi Cyndy. Loved this post. By chance do you know what the color of main body of the Mediterranean home is in this post? The one shown with trim called
    Chestnut (Sherwin Williams)

  5. Amy says:

    Hi Cyndy – I have a stone house with lots of different brown variations in the stone. My roof is brown. I am considering painting the trim taupe (the grout color), and the shutters dark brown, with a yellow gold front door. Any changes you would suggest? Thanks so much!

  6. Bob Blume says:

    Excellent color choices.

    I feel like neutral colors “do” better for home exteriors. If people want a pop of color I recommend landscaping or, at most, a painted door.

    What are your thoughts?

  7. Tracy LeDeit says:

    Can anyone help me with my house. I painted the exterior a little too dark. I used Deer Trail 1036 by Benjamin Moore. Shutters are black. My house is stucco and has trim to it. I need a good trim color to lighten it up for my taste. Any suggestions. I ususally use benjamin moore.

  8. Jane says:

    We’re about to repaint the entire exterior of our cabin. We want to go with an earthy palette, using a sage/moss earthy green as the body and probably a darker trim like urban bronze or similar. I don’t like yellow tones in the green color, and am just looking for a popular shade for this type scheme. There is also some contrasting natural stone work on the house. I can’t figure out how to post a pic, but can you recommend a couple of exterior “neutral, earthy greens” that’s not too pea soup or yellowish?? Thanks!

  9. Great post with fantastic tips! Yes, it really is all in the details and trim is one of those details that can really make a big impression if you pay attention to it. Thanks for pointing out all the ways exterior trim may be enhanced.

  10. The colors, all are impressive. Repainting your house with a good color combination of your painting, this will give more value to the house.

  11. Tammy McKenzie says:

    I had a question about choosing exterior colors for our home. The brick is a warm red with a yellowish hue in the grout. should I stay with warmer colors like Macadadamia by Sherwin Williams or Relaxed Khaki by Sherwin Williams? I like the Khaki color better but it is a little cooler than the brick. Thanks for any comment you have

  12. Janet Gottschalk says:

    We just enclosed our 1970’s carport into garage. The garage door is Ivory. We also had stone placed around the outside and under the front window of the house. Will also be having the front patio redone with a couple stone pillars and replacing the iron fencing with new.

    Now I’m STUCK on what color to paint our house AND the trim!!! Can you help???

    The contractor is waiting for me to make a decision and I’m truly stumped….

    Do I pick a color that is enhancing to the stone and trim the house with ivory, like the garage door and new window frames?

    Thank you in advance for your help,


  13. Sharon says:

    Hi Cyndy-Would you happen to know the white brick color where the door is painted BM Texas leather?

  14. Kate Anderson says:

    These colors are beautiful. However, I am looking for a red trim color for our dark brown log cabin. Do you have any ideas? Red is a really hard color to pick out.

    Thank you,

  15. p lampron says:

    can you please verify the exterior colour you refer to above FARROW & BALL Pantalon, I cannot find a colour by that name listed at all. Is this is indeed a F&B colour? thanks

  16. kathie says:

    i have dark brown shutters and grayish white aluminum siding. the door is also dark brown and i want to paint the door differently. any suggestions?

  17. Amy says:

    I have a light almond color brick. Not quite white. I like the Sherwin Williams color “Refuge”. I am unsure what color to paint my trim, doors and shutters of my ranch style home. Only the gables would be the Rufuge color since the bricks have never been painted.

  18. Jo says:

    I painted my house stucco texas leather! I also have red brick and I was wondering what color to paint my door and shutters that would compliment this. I have white columns and white door trim!? Thanks, Jo

  19. Connie says:

    Plan on painting exterior of house a dark grey. Any suggestions for trim colour. Currently house is light grey blue, white trim,with burgundy door.

    • Cyndy says:

      If your house is going to be dark, I always recommend doing the opposite to the trim. I would highly recommend a white to balance and lighten the dark body color. I like Decorator’s White Ben Moore in cases like what you have described. Good luck!

  20. Kathy says:

    I need to paint my house now. I just had new siding and roof done. The roof is Owens Corning Quarry Grey. Some times the roof can have a bit of a blue cast even though it was supposed to be charcoal and lighter greys. I’m thinking of going with Sherwin Williams Ellie Grey, Pure White trim and maybe a black door and possible shutters in something like Tricorn Black or Black Beauty. What do you think? I also have to redo The front steps and landing. I’m thinking Trex in grey colors? Thanks!

  21. I am not a big fan of yellow but the exterior of my home is pale yellow brick with touches of cream color in the brick also, the gutters are also painted yellow, what colors would you suggest I paint the trim, gutters and front door to complete the color of the brick, I tend to lean more towards earthy colors…. really cant afford to paint the brick. Appreciate any suggestions,Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *