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Are You Guessing When it Comes to What Colour to Paint Your House?

Posted by: Heidi Nyline

When we are hired to paint the exterior of a house in Vancouver or anywhere else in the lower mainland, if there is a colour change involved, we sample the paint colour first. No exceptions. That includes when homeowners have already chosen the colours on their own.

Photo and exterior house painting by Warline Painting

Choosing exterior paint colours is tough. I personally think it is way harder than choosing interior colours. And let's be honest, you are going to be living with it for a good number of years, even if you don't love the colour. Whereas, changing the colour of your bedroom isnít going to break the bank if you decide itís the wrong colour.

One of the reasons why it is so much harder to choose exterior paint colours is because natural light brings out all the undertones of a colour. So if you want a blue house but choose a blue that has a purple undertone, you are going to get a purple house. At least that is what your neighbours are going to call the colour. And you know what I think about accidental purple houses from my past article on the subject.

Iíve heard too many times "it didnít look like that on the paint chip".

The other reason it can be hard to get paint colours right for the outside of your house is the size of your house. Light combined with the large spans of an exterior wall will make colours seem lighter, so you really need to make sure you are getting the intensity of the colours right.

So how do we sample paint colours on a house at Warline Painting? First, we start with my big samples to narrow down the colours that work the best with the fixed features on a house. That includes the roof, windows, gutters, stone or brick, vinyl siding and anything else that is going to impact the look of the house.

Then we actually test the colours on the house. This allows our customer to see how it looks in different light and at different times of the day, as well as against the features of the house.

If you are testing colours yourself, here are some tips.

Sampling properly includes painting at large area (5 square feet is good) of the colour and preferably against the trim of house so you can see how it works together. Paint two coats Ė it makes a difference.

You need a sample at least this big and wait for it to dry before judging the colour. I took this picture of a house we are painting in Pitt Meadows while the paint was still drying so you could see how it gets so much darker as it dries. Also, paint a sample in the sun and in the shade.

If at all possible, you want to make sure your old colour isnít showing as the background to the new colour you are testing. Otherwise you are comparing the new colour to the old and that can seriously influence how a colour will look. This might require painting a white border around the new paint colour. Best is to paint a large enough area to hide the old colour. Finally, paint a sample on a couple of different facing walls. Be sure to put a sample on the front of the house that you will be seeing from the road and then somewhere that gets more or less light so you can see how it looks.

It's important to see how a colour works with the fixed features of a house. In this case - white vinyl windows and brick. There are also a lot of evergreens in the front that will also impact how a colour looks. This homeowner in Pitt Meadows opted for Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray (HC-105) for the siding with a white fascia to tie in the windows.

I laugh at how often customers are concerned about how a colour looks on a sunny day. Typically a colour will look it truest in bright sunlight. Yet here in Vancouver, cloudy overcast days are far more common. Look at the colour in sunlight and overcast skies (or shade). Give yourself enough time to mull over the colour in different light (and weather) and at different times of the day.

Choosing new colours for the exterior of your house will be far more successful if you take the time to sample the colour. Itís a small investment in time and money compared to the actual prep and painting to be done. Honestly, do you want to be known as the purple house on the corner?

Posted by: kristie@thedecorologist
Heidi, This post is really awesome - great info, spot-on!!!! Love your purple house example.

Thanks Kristie. I love your blog. It's full of such great advice.

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