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A Letter from Sandy
  Deember 2014

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Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

Color is an important and powerful tool in exterior painting. It can enhance or create attractive features in a home or commercial building, while hiding the unattractive ones.


Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

Color is an important and powerful tool in exterior painting. It can enhance or create attractive features in a home or commercial building, while hiding the unattractive ones. Color can adjust the relationship of the structure to the lot, and make it harmonize with the landscaping and neighboring structures. Beautiful colors will give pleasure to everyone who sees them, and add to the value of your property. In a commercial building, great colors create positive feelings that are very good for business. Best of all, beautiful colors don't cost a penny more than ones that don't work.

Here's how to choose the right exterior colors for your project: First, read this entire article so you'll know what to look for and how to proceed. Next, stand a good distance away from the building. Look at it from all angles and ask yourself these questions:


1.    What colors are used in your building's permanent elements like the roof, decks, stonework or driveway? Are the predominant tones warm (yellow undertones), cool (blue undertones) or neutral?
2.    Are there attractive details you want to highlight such as windows, shutters, columns or trim? Don't accent trim bands just because they're there! Builders use these bands to join sections or hide construction gaps, not as decoration. Make sure they're worth featuring or they can make the impression of the house busy and unattractive.
3.    If there aren't any attractive details, can you create some with imaginative use of paint? Perhaps you can add a band of color around windows with narrow molding to correct the proportions or to add pizzazz.
4.    What unattractive things like gutters, downspouts, foundations, meter boxes, plug covers or air conditioning units should be made to "disappear" by painting them in the main wall color?
5.    Does the building have pleasing proportions, or can you use color to make corrections? Pay special attention to the roof line. If the color of the eaves and fascia is the same as the walls, the building will look taller, and if they're painted the same color as the roof, the building will look lower.
6.    Is there more than one type of surface material? Has trim been used to create distinct sections of the building?  If so, perhaps you can use an additional color(s).
7.    Does the architecture of the house suggest a color scheme? The colors you choose should be appropriate to the architecture. To help you make the right choices, some paint companies have created brochures showing color combinations for historic or regional architecture like Craftsman or Mediterranean style that can inspire you.
8.    Is the entryway a naturally attractive focal point, or is special attention needed? Is a large garage door the first thing you see? Don't paint the garage door and front door the same color. It makes the entryway less important, instead of having its rightful place as the focal point where you extend a gracious welcome to visitors. Consider painting the garage door with the main wall color, and using a third color for the front door.


1.    What is the proportion of the building to the lot? A dark color will make a relatively large building on a small or narrow lot seem less cramped. A light color will make a small building on a large lot seem more impressive.
2.    What is the distance from the building to the curb? You can correct a shallow front area by choosing a cool, dark "receding" color. If the front is deep, consider a warm, light or bright "advancing" color.
3.    What colors are used in the permanent landscaping? Is the dominant tone of the evergreens blue, gray or yellow? What are the colors of the flowering shrubs and perennials? What are the dominant colors of the autumn leaves? These answers are very important! Just consider the impact of blue-red flowers against a peach colored building.
4.    What colors have the neighbors used? If they're close by, they might have an effect on how your colors look. They even could detract from your color plan if their dominant colors don't work well with yours.
5.    Does your subdivision or neighborhood association have strict rules about color? Find our how much latitude you have to personalize your color plan.

Your Color Preferences

1.    What impression do you want to create? Do you want drama, elegance and sophistication, or do you want a rustic or cottage look? A dark main wall color or significant contract between the main wall and the accent color(s) produces a dramatic effect. Colors with low contrast look calmer and more sophisticated. Bright colors are happy and playful. Earth tones and neutrals look natural and elegant and blend best with landscaping.
2.    What colors do you like - light, medium or dark? Dull or bright? Warm, cool or neutral? Bear in mind that surface imperfections will be much more visible with light, bright, shiny colors than with dark, duller ones.

As you answer these questions you'll begin to see a pattern develop that will suggest a color plan that will work for you.  If you'd like help, remember that we'll be happy to do a color consultation for you and develop a custom color plan. If you hire us to do the painting, we include a free color consultation and samples as part of our services.

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