Choosing House Paint: The Do's and Don'ts of Color

blue craftsman house with orange door
ZillowApplying a little imagination to the selection process won't cost any more than a neutral scheme would.

There's nothing like paint to transform the look of your home's exterior, but when there's no shortage of shades from which to choose, it can be challenging to make a final selection. We've collected some essential do's and don'ts to help you find a hue you'll be happy and proud to live with for years to come.

The Do's

Consider colors. Many homeowners worry that a unique color scheme will end up costing more, but fortunately that's not the case! Applying a little imagination to the selection process won't stress your wallet any more than choosing a neutral shade would -- so why not have a little fun?

Take a hint. Notice what colors exist on your exterior that cannot be changed -- the dark gray flecks in your brick, for instance, or that blue cast in your roofing shingles. A cohesive color scheme will take into account these unchangeable shades.

Accent. Add character and charm by painting your window trim and architectural details in a contrasting accent color. And, don't forget that you can also use color to emphasize your entryway.

Consider trends. Trends in exterior paint move at a snail's pace. The color you choose today is very likely to still be in style tomorrow or 10 years from now. White used to be the "safe" choice, but more and more homeowners are experimenting with color and tinted neutrals. Tour a few neighborhoods to get a sense of what others are opting for.

Light vs. dark. Light colors make a house look larger and more inviting and if painted on a house set back from the curb, they can bring the structure visually forward. Dark colors, meanwhile, make a house look more substantial. Especially if applied to a home's lower portion, they suggest stability and permanence.

The Don'ts

Misplace the accent. Accenting is great, but only when used to highlight the more attractive elements of your home. Avoid drawing attention to drab features like gutters, air conditioning units or unevenly placed windows.

Ignore the neighbors. While it's a good idea to get creative, it's usually a bad idea to pick colors that will clash with your neighbors' exteriors. You can always stand out but try to do so in an unobtrusive way!

Ignore the landscaping. Maximize curb appeal by ensuring your house and yard are in harmony. A green-painted house would get lost on a heavily wooded lot, while a bright color might appear too brash where landscaping is sparse.

Wing it.Exterior painting is a big deal so plan accordingly! Try painting a small amount of your main, trim and accent color choices next to each other on a hidden side of the house. That way, you can test how your scheme is coming together.

More about paint:
Oil vs. Latex Paint Explained
How To: Paint Everything
10 'Welcoming' Front Door Colors

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV's This Old House, Bob Vila's Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content - practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow or AOL.

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