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Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

What Works Best Outside

Medium tone, neutral colors are the most appropriate shades for outdoor use. Even if you have no HOA restrictions, you should consider your neighbors' feelings and resale value.
In addition, the color you choose can have a direct effect on the cost, completion time, and durability of your paint project. Not all exterior paint colors hold up to UV light, and may fade with time. Beiges and light- to medium-browns have better than average resistance to UV light and fading. They also provide excellent coverage. Other shades, especially true reds and yellows, can require multiple coats; up to six, in some cases. Remember, the more coats you'll need, the longer and more expensive the job will be.

Getting Inspired

Does someone else have a say in your home's color? Your Homeowner's Association or community charter may dictate (or forbid!) the use of certain colors. Be sure to check; painting over a shade you've fallen in love with can be heartbreaking as well as expensive.
Likewise, if you live in an older home with historic value, your local housing authority can recommend historic paint colors or schemes appropriate to your home's architecture. Some communities provide incentives to restore your home to its former glory. Some homeowners may receive as much as 50% of the contract fee as a tax credit! Well worth the price of a few phone calls, don't you think?
Drive around your neighborhood. Chances are, imitating your neighbors color schemes will work out well. You don't need to take the cookie-cutter approach, but choosing coordinating colors will help you get a feel for what buyers want and ensure that your house will never be "that weird one on the corner."
Look in books and magazines. Starting with a home-improvement magazine like Better Homes and Gardens is an inexpensive way to get started. You'll find a wide variety of color schemes for every taste. Books are another good option. Check them out at your local library, or purchase them from your home-improvement store. Books usually go into more depth than short little magazine articles can.
In either case, be aware that what you see is not necessarily what you get. Graphics programs and printing presses are somewhat limited; the colors you see on the page may not accurately represent the true color of the paint, although they'll be close. Your best bet, if you want an exact match, is to bring the page into the paint store with you and find swatches that are close, rather than using the specific color mentioned in the article.
Let the manufacturer inspire you. Experimenting with a manufacturers paint color fan deck (basically a color wheel on steroids) is another way to find exterior paint colors that work well together. Because there are so many options, however, a fan deck can overwhelm you even more!
Your contractor can help. Ask your contractor for ideas. He knows what other homeowners are asking for, what colors hold up best to weather and sun, and which colors provide good coverage with the least effort.
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