How to paint the exterior of your house

Look around your neighborhood and you’re bound to see homes painted in the popular neutral tones of cream, grey, and beige. But regardless of whether you follow current paint trends, or like to set your own, having a fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior is always in.

The question may be, how often should you paint your house?

Not to worry, here’s a simple breakdown of how to know when the time has come to give your home’s exterior a little sprucing up.

How Often Should You Paint Your House?

The truth is, there is no date set in stone to answer the question, “how often should you paint your house?” Every home is different and the quality, color, and age of your home’s exterior paint will all come into play.

Not to mention the weather, climate, and level of humidity in your home state.

However, there are several key indicators any homeowner can use to know their home’s exterior paint has hit its limit and it’s time for a fresh coat.

Your Home’s Exterior Surface

Knowing what your home’s exterior is made of will be essential to knowing when it’s time to repaint. Generally, expert painters will tell you it’s a good idea to paint your home’s exterior at least every 5-10 years.

Here’s a breakdown of the general timeline for repainting based on the exterior material of your house:

  • Brick– If your brick is painted, it may only need a repaint every 10-20 years. Most brick exteriors will stay nice looking with regular cleaning and paint lasts long as well.
  • Stucco– Repaint every 5 years. Especially as many stucco homes tend to be in more humid or arid climates where sun and moisture take a toll on the paint.
  • Wood– Wood siding is one of the home exteriors that need more frequent paint jobs. You should repaint a home with wood siding at least every 3-7 years. If your wood is stained, you should probably give it a new coat every 3-4 years.
  • Aluminum– Aluminum, like wood, needs more frequent repaint jobs. Every 5 years should keep your home looking sharp.
  • New Exterior Materials– Newer materials used often in homes today, including materials like cement fiberboard, offer a longer-lasting look compared to other home exteriors. Most new materials can last as long as 10 years before needing a new paint job. At most, 20 years.

How to Extend Your Home’s Exterior Paint Life

Hiring professional painters is the first step in making sure your home’s exterior paint job not only looks top-notch but lasts as long as possible too.

Professional painters can advise you in the best kinds of paints for your home and it’s surface. They can also instruct you on exterior home maintenance rituals to keep your paint looker fresh longer.

Proper Maintenance

Aside from who you hire to do the job, proper care for your home is the next most important thing to preserve paint life. Take regular note of your exterior’s condition. Is there mold? Are there rodent infestations? Are there spots of moisture accumulation?

If you find any of these or other issues with your exterior, take care of them immediately. Letting problems sit is only asking for further, (and more costly), repairs.

Power-washing your home and gutters regularly is a wise way to prevent mold and almost all other dangerous exterior issues from causing damage to your paint job.

High-Quality Paint

This method for extending exterior paint may seem like a no-brainer. But, for many home-owners looking to save a buck or two, the temptation to opt for cheaper paint is real. Just remember, the quality of paint you use on your home’s exterior is an investment in the future of your home.

If you want your home’s exterior to be healthy and look beautiful, it’s worth investing in good paint and professional painters to do the job. Not to mention, quality paint and a clean look add value to your home.

Consult with a professional about the best time of year and day to paint your home. All these factors will affect how well the paint sets and drys. Thus, either extending or shortening the length of your paint-life.

Protect Against the Elements

Your home is meant to protect you from the elements. But what are you doing to protect the exterior of your home from nature as well?

Believe it or not, this is possible.

For example, if you live in a climate prone to intense heat, your exterior paint job can begin to bubble and warp. One great way of preventing this is by planting large trees around the exterior of your home to cast some shade over your walls.

Not only can your landscaping improve the look of your home and paint job, but you’ll be thankful for the effort you put in when your next cooling bill arrives.

How to Prep for an Exterior Paint Job

If you’ve been doing proper maintenance on your home, this step will be easy. Basically, you’ll need to power-wash your home. Clean all mold, nests, webs, leaves, dirt, and anything else from your exterior. Be sure not to forget gutters too as spills or drippings from them can really ruin wet paint.

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your exterior, check for holes or cracks. Caulk or use putty to fill gaps in. If you have bubbling paint, scrape it off or use a sandblaster before you begin painting afresh.

Always make sure your home is completely dry from washing before you or your professional painters begin a job. A wet home makes for a poor paint job.

Ready, Set, Paint!

How often should you paint your house? If ready this guide has tipped you off that your home is due for a fresh coat of paint, don’t wait.

Refresh your home’s exterior today. Contact one of our professionals and learn what paint services we provide.

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How to paint the exterior of your house

While we highly recommend hiring a professional painting contractor to paint a home’s exterior, you may be committed to a DIY approach. If so, use these exterior painting tips and tricks to help make the project easier.

Homeowners depend on paint to both beautify and protect. If you have decided to put the power of paint to work for your home’s exterior firsthand, use these top exterior painting preparation steps to succeed.

Step #1: Plan

Ideally, every outdoor painting day would be 77°F with no humidity, but reality says otherwise. Our top weather tips include:

  • Plan based on weather–rain can easily ruin a fresh coat of paint and undo hours of hard work, so weather is truly a critical component of a successful exterior paint project.
  • Refrain from painting when the temperature drops below 40°F.
  • Always reference the paint can label for additional insights on weather-related directions.

TIP: Low temperatures and high humidity are a bad combination. Generally speaking, the higher the humidity, the slower a product dries.

Step #2

Take some time in advance to choose paint, primer, finish and painting tools. Here are some top tips.

PAINT

Most acrylic/latex paints will work on the majority of popular exterior home surfaces, including wood siding, brick, fiber cement, stucco and EIFS (Engineered Insulation Finishing System).

As a general rule, UV resistance, which prevents fade, is one of the main benefits that separate the quality of one paint from another. Besides the sun protection, higher quality paints have great expansion and contraction characteristics, resistance to wind-driven rain, mildew and dirt pick-up resistance, and a number of other benefits.

Acrylic/latex paints like Aura ® Exterior Paint and Regal ® Select High Build are generally the best choice for exterior painting projects. Latex paints resist the sun’s rays and are highly compatible with all the substrates mentioned above, so they are not as prone to fade like oil-based paints.

PRIMER

Exterior primers vary by substrate. Your local Benjamin Moore retailer can help you choose the right one for your exterior surface.

FINISH

Favorite finishes for exteriors include low lustre or satin, as they tend to resist dirt pick-up compared to flatter finishes. Many homeowners opt for semi-gloss for that little pop of shine on the trim, shutters and moldings.

TOOLS

Brushing or rolling? At different times of your painting project, you will likely use both.

Using a roller increases production and spraying the paint can speed up the project. The important thing when it comes to brush or roll is that you use a quality tool. Not all paint brushes or rollers are the same and results may vary, so we encourage you to use the most high quality brushes or rollers to support your hard work. Your local Benjamin Moore retailer can help you make the right selection.

Paint sprayers require a certain level of expertise. For the average DIY-er, we don’t recommend them, however your local Benjamin Moore retailer can coach you on this topic if you are committed to spraying.

Step #3: Prep

Clean. Dry. Dull: If you’ve ever been around painters, you may be familiar with this painting mantra. Here’s what you need to know for each of these crucial activities.

CLEAN

If you are power washing your home with anything other than water (e.g., a chemical cleaner), mask your plants and landscaping with plastic drop cloths, taped down to stay in place should wind pick up. Any part of the perimeter that you don’t want cleaner to touch should be covered, especially if you are using a chemical cleaner. After power washing, mask windows too, to avoid time-consuming clean-up of dried paint flecks on window panes later.

DRY

A fully dry substrate is imperative. Don’t paint until your exterior is fully dry. For example, a wood substrate will need its moisture content to be below 15%: a Benjamin Moore retailer can help with more information on measuring moisture.

DULL

In general, your new paint’s adhesion could be negatively affected if applied over existing high gloss surfaces. Fortunately most exterior houses aren’t high gloss, but many doors are. If you encounter a surface that is high in gloss it’s best to degloss with sandpaper or a liquid deglosser.

If there is existing paint that is peeling, you need to discover the cause and correct it. Be sure to smooth the edges of any areas where paint has peeled. Sanding provides a smooth surface that improves the adhesion of both paint and primer.

Step #4: Prime

We recommend always priming prior to caulking and patching. Remember the peeling areas you sanded down in Step #3? You’ll need to spot prime (applying primer to particular areas) surface areas that are not in sound condition. Note that brick should always be primed entirely.

Step #5: Caulk

Fill in minor cracks and gaps around windows and doors with a high-quality paintable caulk. Your Benjamin Moore retailer can help you choose the right one.

Caulk between one piece of siding to the next and in between flashing (the metal strips that keep water out). The smoother your surface, the more uniform your paint job will look.

Step #6: Paint

When starting a painting project, begin on the side of the house that will remain in the shade until you finish. Direct sunlight can cause paint to dry too quickly, and can cause lap marks and blistering.

Always work from the top down, painting gutters and eaves first if you want them to match the color of your siding. Paint trim before the main surface of the house first as well. Be prepared to apply two coats of premium exterior paint.

TIP: Paint is formulated equally for spray, brush and roll applications: It’s your choice.

Painting tips for.

Wood Siding

Follow these exterior painting tips to create a beautiful finish on wood siding, one of the most popular choices for home exteriors:

• Start by using a paint brush to cut into the trim.
• Then, cut into in any areas below drips or decorative moldings.
• After cutting into these areas, use a roller to paint from side to side, applying paint over a 3-4 foot section of wood siding.
• Once all the paint is applied, use a paint brush to feather the paint and ensure a smooth finish.

Brick

For brick, acrylic/latex paint is still your best choice. Don’t paint over efflorescence, which is a crystalline deposit of salts that often forms on brick when water is present. Efflorescence must be removed by wire brush or other tool.

How to paint the exterior of your house

As with most home projects, there is usually a hard way and an easier way. The easier way doesn’t always mean poorer results. This concept applies to exterior house painting, as well.

If you choose to paint your own house instead of hiring professional house painters, you definitely will benefit from time-saving tips. These are hacks, tips, and recommendations that will help you paint your house efficiently, effectively, and with less effort.

Wash Your House Quickly and Painlessly

How to paint the exterior of your house

Most houses will need to be washed down prior to painting. Wipe a white cloth across the side of your house and you will witness years or even decades worth of accumulated gray soot and dust. Even in the most desperate of painting projects, it is still recommended to wash down the house.

Washing down your house by hand is the most effective and the most work-intensive way to get your house clean. But what is the least you can get by with?

If you own a pressure washer, spray down the house two times. First, clean it with a soapy solution. Second, rinse it with clean water.

If you have no pressure washer, your second-best option is to thoroughly hose it down.

In any case, your main goals should be to knock off the big, visible junk (spiderwebs, wasp’s nests, leaves) and to wash away that thin soot and dust.

Paint Your House the Same Color or Darker

How to paint the exterior of your house

You create more work for yourself when you choose to change your exterior house color. It significantly increases the amount of work when the new coat is lighter than the existing coat. Even with one-coat-painting, the old color often will still show through in some areas. When you paint the same color, though, those areas blend in.

If you do not know the present house color, find an area of peeling paint, pull it off, and take it to a paint store. If there is no peeling paint, remove a painted item such as a dryer vent or a strip of molding. The paint store usually can match the existing color.

If you want to change your color, then consider making the next color darker than the present color.

Using the same color or a darker color makes it easier to lay down just one coat.

Prime Only When Needed

How to paint the exterior of your house

Does your house need a complete coat of primer before applying the paint? Maybe not.

When the paint is in good condition and you are re-painting the same color, there should be no need to apply primer.

Problem areas, though, will require a primer. Bare wood, wood filler, rust-stained areas: all should be primed. If you just have bare spots, an exterior-grade quart of primer will be enough. Hit unpainted and unprimed areas with primer, not the whole house.

One caveat is that primed areas will show through the paint. So, unless your topcoat is pure white, you may need to apply an extra coat of paint just to hide the lighter-colored paint primer.

Minimize Paint Scraping

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Marlene Bocast / Getty Images

Scraping paint is a universally unloved subset of painting. After scraping paint for a couple of hours, you will long for the comparatively easier jobs of brushing, rolling, or spraying.

One problem with paint scraping is that one section always seems to lead to another. If the edges of the paint will stay down, you can probably leave it alone. The new paint will seal the edges and help keep it in place. Scrape until you reach a relatively solid edge, then stop at that edge.

If you find that you need to remove all of the paint from the house, it is time to hire house painters or a crew to mechanically remove the paint.

Paint Roll the Flat Surfaces

How to paint the exterior of your house

Paint rolling lets you cover large expanses fast. The catch is that many types of siding do not lend themselves to rolling. Shiplap siding, for instance, is difficult to paint with a paint roller (wide shiplap, though, can be painted with a roller).

If your house has flat siding or even large flat sections, use a paint roller and an extension pole to cover those sections quickly.

Spray Large Areas or Detailed Areas

How to paint the exterior of your house

Paint spraying is both a time saver and a time-waster. On the one hand, spraying allows you to quickly and efficiently cover large areas or areas with lots of details.

On the other hand, paint spraying requires much preparation. Every part of the non-paintable surface and within 20 feet should be covered. If you have delicate foliage or grass, those areas should be covered, too. If this is late in the summer and you have given up on the lawn for the season, you can probably spray without laying down a cover.

If your house is rich in architectural details, the time invested in paint spraying will pay for itself many times over. Details usually mean brush-work, and brush-work is always slow. But if you are able to mask away non-painted areas without undue time or effort, this is highly recommended.

Don’t Spend as Much Time Cleaning Brushes or Roller Covers

How to paint the exterior of your house

After a punishing day of painting, the main thing you want to do is sit down and have a cold drink. So, the last thing you want to do is clean up your brushes and roller covers. But cleaning is an essential step in keeping your painting tools around for a long time and in good condition.

For paint roller covers, purchase inexpensive quality roller covers and dispose of them at the end of each painting session. Better quality covers are recommended for interior painting, where critical eyes will be viewing the handiwork. Exterior painting is more conducive to economy-quality roller covers.

With paint brushes, it’s best to buy high-quality brushes and treat them well. The best way to do this is to clean your good brushes with a paint brush comb and water. Paint brush combs cut brush clean-up time at least by half. More importantly, they help you pull out all of the paint remaining between the bristles.

How to paint the exterior of your house

Jul 5, 2018 · 4 min read

What do taxes and traffic both have in common? Well, for one thing, nobody enjoys them, and for another, they’re both unavoidable.

Everyone must face the inevitable. Whether you like it or not, having your siding re-stained or painted is just one of those things that can’t be avoided.

What kind of home do you have?

First, you must be familiar with what kind o f siding you have on your house. Typically, if you have wood siding, it will be rough-sawn cedar, but if your home is an older house, 50–60 years old, it will most likely be a smooth cedar. If not wood, you may have aluminum, vinyl, or some other hardboard siding.

Difference Between Paint and Stain

The big difference between paint and stain is that stain penetrates the wood while paint just coats the surface.

Paint On A Cedar Home-Bad News

Paint on a cedar home can peel not only from poor application but also from the product working too well. Some of the higher-end coatings work so well that as they dry over time, they pull so tight that they pull the stain off the side of the house. The best thing to use is an acrylic stain.

Cedar Home Advice

Often homes with painted rough-sawn cedar have a tendency to peel. First thing you want to make sure you do is prep it properly. Pressure washing, sanding, and scraping the old loose paint off, then you are free to apply the new coats. Many people like the look of a semi-transparent stain, but this has to be redone every few years as this stain wears quickly, so more people are switching to a solid body stain.

How to paint the exterior of your house

If you have a smooth cedar home, you’ll want to use a nice oil based primer and then two coats of paint to paint the exterior of your home. You could use stain, but we recommend a good oil based primer and two coats of paint.

Many cedar homes now are all pre-stained, but if you happen to have one where the wood is still raw you will want to start off with an oil-based primer, but cut it with a product called penetrol, this will make the stain penetrate the wood much better.

Aluminum and Vinyl Siding Advice

You will want to use paint for aluminum or vinyl siding. There isn’t really any kind of priming on these surfaces. The biggest thing you have to do before painting is to make sure that the surface is clean. You don’t want any dirt, mold, or mildew on the siding before you paint it. If you have anything like that on the siding, your paint won’t stick.

Spray Application-Do Not Do

Spray application is highly unrecommended. Not that it’s wrong to use, but it’s difficult to use. You have to use it on a nice day with little to no wind. A breath of wind or a twitch of the hand could cover your neighbor’s house or their car, not to mention your own, but if you do decide to use the spray make sure you back brush everything to work it into the surface.

Good Extra Advice

When applying stain, the best applicator is a thicker nap roller. We generally recommend a three-quarter inch polyester or a one-inch polyester with a seven-inch handle, and this is because lap siding is about six and a half inches.

Clean your surface before applying paint or stain. Fill in any nail holes with caulk or excessive stain. Keep your colors light and bright. You will have less wear and tear if you keep your colors lighter and brighter. Darker colors attract heat and light so they will wear faster.

How to paint the exterior of your house

When painting the siding of your house, make sure you know what kind of siding it is so you can better determine whether stain or paint is best for you. Be careful when painting a cedar home and remember for different kinds of cedar siding, stain works better than paint. But paint is always better than stain for aluminum or vinyl siding, and for best results, do not use spray application unless you know exactly what you are doing. When you apply stain, a thicker nap roller that is a three-quarter inch or one-inch with a seven-inch handle is best. Fill in any nail holes with caulk or excessive stain. Keep your colors light and bright, but most importantly clean your surface thoroughly before applying any coats of anything.

Don’t forget, if you need an estimate on painting the exterior of your home, give me a call. My team and I have been serving the Downers Grove, Oak Brook, Elmhurst, Lombard, Carol Stream, Westmont, Willowbrook, Woodridge, and all of Chicago area for 30+ years.

An exterior paint job can last up to 15 years. Here’s your no-stress guide to choosing a palette that suits your house’s style, expresses your own, and will weather the next two decades with grace.

Maybe you’ve seen it happen in your neighborhood: A house you once viewed as blah—or worse, an eyesore—transforms seemingly overnight, all thanks to a fresh coat of paint. “It’s amazing what a difference a new color scheme can make when it comes to curb appeal and the market value of a home,” says Paula Monthofer, regional vice president of the National Association of Realtors in Flagstaff, Arizona.

First you have to choose a palette, which can be next-level intimidating: You want to commit to colors that you’re pretty sure you’ll still love in a decade or more, that reflect your personality (at least a little bit), and that make you feel content every time you pull into the driveway. Before you color yourself overwhelmed, read through these shortcuts to finding your home’s perfect match. Then your main challenge will be jealous neighbors throwing shade.

Choose Your Hues

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Begin with what you can’t change.

Unlike the inside of a room, an exterior is almost never a blank slate. You need to survey its fixed elements—things you don’t plan (or can’t afford) to change, like roofing, windows, soffits, gutters, and stonework. “These elements dictate your color palette,” says Cassie McDowell, co-owner of Brick & Batten, a virtual exterior-design firm. So work with them—or risk having colors that feel “off.” For example, if your home has a red roof, you should balance that out, perhaps by “selecting a warmer shade than you might have planned,” says Lisa Moon, owner of Paper Moon Painting in Austin, Texas. Looking carefully at your exterior, make a list of the fixed colors you see, including undertones in the roofing, brick, or stone. These will all become part of your palette.

Honor the architecture.

Another factor you can’t ignore: the style of your house. A hunter green that would look just right on a craftsman bungalow or mid-century ranch could be overkill on a farmhouse. Bright, fun colors play well on beach houses in sunny locations, while Victorian homes lend themselves to more muted variations of those tones (for instance, a Caribbean blue in Boca versus a slate blue in Boston). “Look up your style of home on Pinterest or Houzz to get an idea of what works,” suggests Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services for Behr Paint Company.

Occasionally, it’s a good idea to strategically work against the style of your house. You can make a ’90s build with eclectic windows look less McMansion by painting it a crisp white, say, or reimagine a cookie-cutter new construction in statement-making black.

Consider your backdrop.

The most successful palettes also factor in a home’s surroundings, landscaping, and even climate. In places with tons of bright light year-round, avoid dark or saturated colors, which can fade more quickly and absorb heat (thereby jacking up your A/C bill). “Aim for colors that stand out without sticking out,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “If you have a beautiful backdrop of trees, consider deeper colors that blend with them, such as navy or even black. If you live in a desert climate, dusty beiges and terra-cottas may be a better choice for your environment.”

And if you live in a new development where the only trees are still saplings, neutral may be best. “When there’s less landscaping or shade, the quality of light may intensify colors and make them appear brighter,” Woelfel explains. “Neutral colors tend to be more harmonious until trees and greenery grow in, softening the overall landscape.”

Cruise your ‘hood.

“Your neighborhood can be a great place to find inspiration and help you determine an initial direction for your palette,” Wadden says.

“You don’t have to be tied down by the neighbors’ color schemes, but you should consider the neighborhood aesthetic,” notes Jamal Saghir, product manager and expert of siding and ColorPlus technology at James Hardie. “Bold color choices may look jarring in a neighborhood with a more neutral color scheme, while a home in more neutral tones can fade out in a neighborhood full of bright colors.”

Also, if you live in a historic neighborhood or a planned community, you may need to get your homeowners association to approve your color choice.

Be clear on goals.

If this is your forever home, by all means “look for colors you love that pair with your interior,” McDowell says. “But if you could be selling your home in the next five to seven years, you’ll need colors that also appeal to the masses.” Think neutral or earthy shades (white, gray, beige), which will make your home more attractive to the widest range of home buyers.

Keep it simple.

There’s no need to mood-board endless combinations of exterior colors. “Choose three or four paint colors max: a base color, a trim color, and maybe an accent color for a spot like the door,” McDowell says. Simpler yet, just pick your siding color and let the trim choice flow from that: “The easiest thing is to choose your main wall color, then choose a color two steps lighter or darker for the trim,” Woelfel says. This also ensures the two hues share an undertone—usually, you’ll want to stick with either warm or cool colors so they don’t look jarring side by side. (Not sure what undertone your paint of choice has? Put the paint card on a sheet of bright white printer paper to help reveal the undertone. Or refer to the brightest color on the card— if it’s, say, burnt sienna, you know your color has a warm undertone.) Many paint brands offer helpful online tools for virtually applying shades to photos of your house so you can see how they look before you begin testing paint for real.

Get testing.

Once you select three to five potential siding shades, paint large swatches (at least a couple of square feet) on your house or big foam core boards. A good testing spot: the area between two windows or next to your trim, so the shade is relatively isolated from your existing color. Also, choose an area that gets both sun and shade. Over a few days, observe how the colors shift as the light changes. “Sunlight brightens colors considerably,” Moon says. “It’s amazing how a nice, friendly cream indoors can look as blinding as a sheet of paper under full sun.” If your favorite color proves too glaring, try going one or two steps down on the paint chip. “Make sure your accent, trim, and siding colors are varied enough to be discernible from the street,” Wadden says. “Cross the street to see what the colors look like from your neighbor’s perspective.

Let in some fun.

“Hands down, the least expensive way to instantly amp up your curb appeal is to paint your front door a new color,” says Deb Cohen, founder of the aptly named Instagram account @thefrontdoorproject, which is a virtual flipbook of inspiring exterior color combos. “Try a shade that complements the rest of your exterior but provides a nice jolt of color—use a color wheel to find good options if you’re not sure.” (Choose a hue that’s on the opposite side of the wheel from your siding’s tone.) Other prime places to incorporate your accent color are shutters, flower boxes, window grilles, and the roof of your porch.

Painting your home’s trim, fascia, or doors can be easy. This is a project that can make the biggest impact in changing your home’s appearance.

For Best Results:

Start at the corner and use a smooth motion to brush or roll the project area.

Use a brush for painting in small panels and over the entire surface to avoid the appearance of roller stipple.

Allow enough time for the paint to dry fully before putting doors and windows back into use.

The Fascia

Step 1

Begin your painting project by pouring thoroughly mixed paint into a bucket and dipping a quality 2″-2½” wide nylon/polyester brush into the paint.

Step 2

Using your brush, cut in along the edge where the roofline and the fascia meet and/or where the wall and the fascia meet.

Step 3

Starting at an upper corner, use your roller to paint the fascia board.

Step 4

Continue working into the cut-in area with your roller until the fascia board is complete.

Step 5

With your roller, paint the bottom edge of the fascia board and continue until the project is complete.

The Door

Step 1

Begin your painting project by pouring thoroughly mixed paint into a bucket and dipping a quality 2″-2 ½” wide nylon/polyester brush into the paint.

Step 2

Use a smooth motion to brush or roll the project area. Reload the brush or roller as necessary, when it starts to chatter.

Step 3

For paneled doors and frames, paint into the recessed area of the panel. Begin at a corner of the recess and continue around its perimeter. Work from top to bottom.

Step 4

Continue painting the remainder of the panel until the entire panel is complete. Repeat the process of painting the panels and their recesses until all the panels are complete. Wipe away the excess paint that has overlapped onto the stiles.

Step 5

When the panels are complete, paint the stiles of the door in the following order: middle, top, center, bottom, left, right.

The Door Frame

Step 1

Starting at the top of the door frame, begin painting the inside of the frame.

Step 2

Continue until the frame is complete. Wipe away the excess paint that has overlapped onto the trim.

The Door Trim

Step 1

Starting at a top corner of the door trim, begin painting along the side edge of the trim where it meets the wall. Continue until all side edges of the trim are complete.

Step 2

Return to the top of the door trim and begin painting the face of the trim.

An exterior paint job can last up to 15 years. Here’s your no-stress guide to choosing a palette that suits your house’s style, expresses your own, and will weather the next two decades with grace.

Maybe you’ve seen it happen in your neighborhood: A house you once viewed as blah—or worse, an eyesore—transforms seemingly overnight, all thanks to a fresh coat of paint. “It’s amazing what a difference a new color scheme can make when it comes to curb appeal and the market value of a home,” says Paula Monthofer, regional vice president of the National Association of Realtors in Flagstaff, Arizona.

First you have to choose a palette, which can be next-level intimidating: You want to commit to colors that you’re pretty sure you’ll still love in a decade or more, that reflect your personality (at least a little bit), and that make you feel content every time you pull into the driveway. Before you color yourself overwhelmed, read through these shortcuts to finding your home’s perfect match. Then your main challenge will be jealous neighbors throwing shade.

Choose Your Hues

Related Items

Begin with what you can’t change.

Unlike the inside of a room, an exterior is almost never a blank slate. You need to survey its fixed elements—things you don’t plan (or can’t afford) to change, like roofing, windows, soffits, gutters, and stonework. “These elements dictate your color palette,” says Cassie McDowell, co-owner of Brick & Batten, a virtual exterior-design firm. So work with them—or risk having colors that feel “off.” For example, if your home has a red roof, you should balance that out, perhaps by “selecting a warmer shade than you might have planned,” says Lisa Moon, owner of Paper Moon Painting in Austin, Texas. Looking carefully at your exterior, make a list of the fixed colors you see, including undertones in the roofing, brick, or stone. These will all become part of your palette.

Honor the architecture.

Another factor you can’t ignore: the style of your house. A hunter green that would look just right on a craftsman bungalow or mid-century ranch could be overkill on a farmhouse. Bright, fun colors play well on beach houses in sunny locations, while Victorian homes lend themselves to more muted variations of those tones (for instance, a Caribbean blue in Boca versus a slate blue in Boston). “Look up your style of home on Pinterest or Houzz to get an idea of what works,” suggests Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services for Behr Paint Company.

Occasionally, it’s a good idea to strategically work against the style of your house. You can make a ’90s build with eclectic windows look less McMansion by painting it a crisp white, say, or reimagine a cookie-cutter new construction in statement-making black.

Consider your backdrop.

The most successful palettes also factor in a home’s surroundings, landscaping, and even climate. In places with tons of bright light year-round, avoid dark or saturated colors, which can fade more quickly and absorb heat (thereby jacking up your A/C bill). “Aim for colors that stand out without sticking out,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “If you have a beautiful backdrop of trees, consider deeper colors that blend with them, such as navy or even black. If you live in a desert climate, dusty beiges and terra-cottas may be a better choice for your environment.”

And if you live in a new development where the only trees are still saplings, neutral may be best. “When there’s less landscaping or shade, the quality of light may intensify colors and make them appear brighter,” Woelfel explains. “Neutral colors tend to be more harmonious until trees and greenery grow in, softening the overall landscape.”

Cruise your ‘hood.

“Your neighborhood can be a great place to find inspiration and help you determine an initial direction for your palette,” Wadden says.

“You don’t have to be tied down by the neighbors’ color schemes, but you should consider the neighborhood aesthetic,” notes Jamal Saghir, product manager and expert of siding and ColorPlus technology at James Hardie. “Bold color choices may look jarring in a neighborhood with a more neutral color scheme, while a home in more neutral tones can fade out in a neighborhood full of bright colors.”

Also, if you live in a historic neighborhood or a planned community, you may need to get your homeowners association to approve your color choice.

Be clear on goals.

If this is your forever home, by all means “look for colors you love that pair with your interior,” McDowell says. “But if you could be selling your home in the next five to seven years, you’ll need colors that also appeal to the masses.” Think neutral or earthy shades (white, gray, beige), which will make your home more attractive to the widest range of home buyers.

Keep it simple.

There’s no need to mood-board endless combinations of exterior colors. “Choose three or four paint colors max: a base color, a trim color, and maybe an accent color for a spot like the door,” McDowell says. Simpler yet, just pick your siding color and let the trim choice flow from that: “The easiest thing is to choose your main wall color, then choose a color two steps lighter or darker for the trim,” Woelfel says. This also ensures the two hues share an undertone—usually, you’ll want to stick with either warm or cool colors so they don’t look jarring side by side. (Not sure what undertone your paint of choice has? Put the paint card on a sheet of bright white printer paper to help reveal the undertone. Or refer to the brightest color on the card— if it’s, say, burnt sienna, you know your color has a warm undertone.) Many paint brands offer helpful online tools for virtually applying shades to photos of your house so you can see how they look before you begin testing paint for real.

Get testing.

Once you select three to five potential siding shades, paint large swatches (at least a couple of square feet) on your house or big foam core boards. A good testing spot: the area between two windows or next to your trim, so the shade is relatively isolated from your existing color. Also, choose an area that gets both sun and shade. Over a few days, observe how the colors shift as the light changes. “Sunlight brightens colors considerably,” Moon says. “It’s amazing how a nice, friendly cream indoors can look as blinding as a sheet of paper under full sun.” If your favorite color proves too glaring, try going one or two steps down on the paint chip. “Make sure your accent, trim, and siding colors are varied enough to be discernible from the street,” Wadden says. “Cross the street to see what the colors look like from your neighbor’s perspective.

Let in some fun.

“Hands down, the least expensive way to instantly amp up your curb appeal is to paint your front door a new color,” says Deb Cohen, founder of the aptly named Instagram account @thefrontdoorproject, which is a virtual flipbook of inspiring exterior color combos. “Try a shade that complements the rest of your exterior but provides a nice jolt of color—use a color wheel to find good options if you’re not sure.” (Choose a hue that’s on the opposite side of the wheel from your siding’s tone.) Other prime places to incorporate your accent color are shutters, flower boxes, window grilles, and the roof of your porch.

Painting your home’s trim, fascia, or doors can be easy. This is a project that can make the biggest impact in changing your home’s appearance.

For Best Results:

Start at the corner and use a smooth motion to brush or roll the project area.

Use a brush for painting in small panels and over the entire surface to avoid the appearance of roller stipple.

Allow enough time for the paint to dry fully before putting doors and windows back into use.

The Fascia

Step 1

Begin your painting project by pouring thoroughly mixed paint into a bucket and dipping a quality 2″-2½” wide nylon/polyester brush into the paint.

Step 2

Using your brush, cut in along the edge where the roofline and the fascia meet and/or where the wall and the fascia meet.

Step 3

Starting at an upper corner, use your roller to paint the fascia board.

Step 4

Continue working into the cut-in area with your roller until the fascia board is complete.

Step 5

With your roller, paint the bottom edge of the fascia board and continue until the project is complete.

The Door

Step 1

Begin your painting project by pouring thoroughly mixed paint into a bucket and dipping a quality 2″-2 ½” wide nylon/polyester brush into the paint.

Step 2

Use a smooth motion to brush or roll the project area. Reload the brush or roller as necessary, when it starts to chatter.

Step 3

For paneled doors and frames, paint into the recessed area of the panel. Begin at a corner of the recess and continue around its perimeter. Work from top to bottom.

Step 4

Continue painting the remainder of the panel until the entire panel is complete. Repeat the process of painting the panels and their recesses until all the panels are complete. Wipe away the excess paint that has overlapped onto the stiles.

Step 5

When the panels are complete, paint the stiles of the door in the following order: middle, top, center, bottom, left, right.

The Door Frame

Step 1

Starting at the top of the door frame, begin painting the inside of the frame.

Step 2

Continue until the frame is complete. Wipe away the excess paint that has overlapped onto the trim.

The Door Trim

Step 1

Starting at a top corner of the door trim, begin painting along the side edge of the trim where it meets the wall. Continue until all side edges of the trim are complete.

Step 2

Return to the top of the door trim and begin painting the face of the trim.