Imagine stepping outside your home and noticing that the paint is chipping. It’s peeling a bit at the corners, fading in the sun. Before I put this for sale, you think, I need to fix the paint.
Or maybe your home looks great, but the color isn’t the right fit for you. You’ve lived in the house for a number of years and never really cared for its muted, gray exterior. You want something that better matches your personality and design aesthetic.
Whatever the case, repainting your home can be a great way to increase its value and enhance its curb appeal. But it’s a major decision. Exterior paint jobs can last as long as ten years and if you’re selling your home, you’ll want to choose a color that buyers can live with for a long time. You’ll also want to choose something that fits in with your neighborhood and matches your home’s architectural style.
So should you go bold and embrace your personal style or follow current trends? Perhaps it’s best to stick with a neutral color like white or beige that will appeal to buyers?
We consulted design and real estate experts to help you understand the trends and determine what color is right for you.
Signs it’s time to repaint
Some homes don’t need a new paint job before hitting the market. A good power washing could be all you need to brighten up your paint job and get your house ready for showings.
But if the exterior is faded, bubbling, or peeling it might be time for a new paint job. Mold, mildew or other weather-related damage can also indicate your home is in need of a refresh. On average, exterior paint jobs last four to six years, so if it’s been a while it might be time to break out the paint rollers.
If you’re noticing those signs of wear and aging, “the paint is no longer providing adequate protection to the exterior of your home, and it may be vulnerable to damage from the elements,” says Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, an interior design studio based in New York City.
A home with an aging paint job can be a serious hurdle for sellers as well. Thirty-nine percent of agents said that a lack of curb appeal was one of sellers biggest blindspots and another 20% named faded or dirty exteriors as a potential obstacle, according to top agents surveyed in HomeLight’s Fall 2022 Top Agent Insights report.
Cost to repaint
Repainting costs will vary based on the size of your home and the number of stories. According to This Old House, owners of single-family homes can expect to pay an average of $5,200 to repaint a 2,000 square foot home. Average costs jump to $5,000–$12,000 for a home three stories or taller.
While home painting can seem like it comes with a hefty price tag, it’s often worth the money. A fresh coat of paint can boost your home value by $7,571 on average — a return on investment of 152%.
There have been trends lately with some different paint colors but on the average, we still like to keep it very neutral, and that would be the tans. It’s just a very neutral color. The tan is always safe, and no one is really offended by tan.
What color should you paint your house?
The color you select will depend on a number of factors, including whether you’re planning to sell soon.
Paint colors to help sell your home
As with interior walls, you can’t go wrong with neutral tones when painting the exterior of your house. Buyers like looking at a blank slate. It helps them project their own design ideas onto a home and envision living their lives there. White, beige, gray and tan are all favorites amongst designers and real estate agents when it comes to repainting home exteriors.
“There have been trends lately with some different paint colors but on the average, we still like to keep it very neutral, and that would be the tans,” says top real estate agent Bob McTague, who ranks #1 out of over 800 agents for selling single-family homes in Syracuse, New York.
“It’s just a very neutral color. The tan is always safe, and no one is really offended by tan.”
Kropovinsky agrees, adding that earthy, natural tones like beige and taupe are trendy right now: “These hues assist your property [in] merg[ing] into its surroundings and create a pleasant, welcome atmosphere,” he says.
Don’t feel bummed out by beige. In addition to evoking natural surroundings like sandy beaches or cedar forests, it can feel warm and inviting. Think of it as the foam on top of your piping hot vanilla latte or the crisp golden edge of a toasted marshmallow. Neutral, earthy tones are also less likely to fade than brighter, primary colors.
If you want to go with a bit of color, it’s best to pick one that will give your home a modern feel. painter Andre Kazimierski, CEO, Improovy Painters of Riverview, recommends blue or deep gray to give your home a contemporary look.
All black exteriors, too, are having a moment in 2023. Largely driven by Pinterest and Instagram snapshots, black homes have been a growing trend since 2017, according to Allied Painters.
“Black and moody shades, like Black Magic and Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams, are on-trend without being ostentatious. Keep in mind colors look different depending on sun exposure, so I recommend trying the color sample swatch on all four sides of the home to confirm it looks good in the sun vs. shade,” says Brooke Lang, principal designer and owner of the Chicago-based Brooke Lang Design.
“Keep in mind colors look different depending on sun exposure, so I recommend trying the color sample swatch on all four sides of the home to confirm it looks good in the sun vs. shade.”
Refreshing neutrals to help your home sell:
- Natural Bark, Behr, N170-6
- Accessible Beige, Sherwin Williams, SW 7036
- Chenille Spread, Behr, HDC-NT-03
- White Dove, Benjamin Moore, OC-17
- Elephant Tusk, Benjamin Moore, OC-8
Deep blues, grays and blacks for a contemporary feel:
Bold, statement colors
Going bold with your paint choice won’t necessarily hurt you with buyers. Maximalism, a style characterized by bright, jewel tones, is once again in vogue. Kropovinsky recommends deep crimson, a happy, bright yellow or emerald green for buyers looking to make a statement with their home.
“In recent years, there has been a trend towards a more “maximalist” aesthetic, which emphasizes bold patterns, textures, and colors,” he says. “This trend has carried over into the world of exterior home design, with many homeowners choosing to use bright and bold colors on their homes as a way to make a statement.”
Bold colors that help your home stand out from the crowd:
Classic colors that stand the test of time
If you have an older home, you might want to go with a hue that hails from the era in which it was built. Layering bright colors is popular for Victorian homes while Colonials tend to look better with more muted hues. Many paint companies have historic lines to help guide homeowners to what palettes look best for their properties.
Historic colors for your home:
What does science say?
Like all fads, home painting trends come and go, but the science behind how color affects the human brain remains stable over time. Researchers have studied how color helps people concentrate and what emotions they associate with certain hues.
Their findings: neutral tones are good for focusing — something you want prospective buyers to do when they enter your home. The study found that women concentrate best in beige and white rooms while men prefer white, then green, then beige rooms.
Another study that looked at how green, pink, white, and gray affected people’s emotions. It found that green and white sparked happiness while gray was linked to sadness, negativity, and unattractiveness.
So, science and real estate and design experts concur: paint your home a natural, neutral color.
What about trim, shutters, doors and accents?
“A few simple accents of bright or pastel color can also add an interesting touch without overpowering the overall look,” Kazimierski says.
Kazimierski recommends red to add a pop of color and make a statement. Navys, blacks and light grays can give your home a more neutral, but still sophisticated look.
Outside of trends, color theory can once again provide some guidance for homeowners. Doors, shutters and trim should complement your home’s exterior. If you’re looking at a color wheel, you’ll want to choose a contrasting color — one that’s on the opposite end of the wheel — or a different shade of analogous color. So, a blue house could look good with accents in yellow. Or if you choose to go the analogous route, a white exterior with a gray door could prove a winning combination.
Accents that give your home a touch of color:
Consider local trends
If you’re trying to decide between a neutral palette or a more expressive one, it can be helpful to take a look at the houses in your neighborhood. The National Association of Realtors agrees. They recommend repainting if your home clashes with others nearby as it can give buyers a negative perception.
“You don’t want your home to stick out like a sore thumb,” Kropovinsky says. “Choose a color that fits in with the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood.”
Beachfront properties might benefit from pastel colors popular along the shore whereas rural mountain homes may want to lean into the advice to go neutral to blend in with their natural surroundings.
Architectural styles: how do they affect paint choices?
Design experts agreed that architectural style doesn’t matter as much as local trends.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all formula to matching a paint color to a style of home because it really comes down to your goals and stylistic preference,” Lang says.
That said, some colors look better on certain styles: “A traditional brick home, for example, might look best with a neutral color like beige or gray, while a mid-century modern home might look great with a bold, bright color,” Kropovinsky says.
What type of paint should I choose?
Color isn’t the only important decision you’ll be making when you’re deciding whether or not to paint your house. You’ll also need to select a type of paint and a finish as well.
The paint type that’s right for your home will depend on a variety of factors, including what the exterior your house is made of, how heavily trafficked the area is, and what climate you live in.
“The type of paint you should use for your exterior paint job is contingent on multiple factors, including your location, region, climate, and the direction your home is facing,” Lang said.
“Work with your local paint showroom to select the best exterior paint based on these factors, which can greatly impact the longevity of your exterior paint job.”
- Acrylic: Probably your best bet for exterior paint jobs. Characterized by its thickness and viscosity, acrylic paint’s high-elasticity allows it to expand and contract with varying temperatures. It’s best for wood, aluminum siding and fiber cement homes.
- Latex: Though it’s most commonly used indoors due to its low fume levels, Latex paint is another great option for the exterior of your house. Like acrylic, it expands and contracts with shifting temperatures and it’s easy to clean. Another plus: latex paints tend to be on the less expensive side. It can be used on aluminum, wood, composite, stucco, and brick exteriors.
- Oil-based: Oil-based paints tend to be less popular than their latex and acrylic counterparts due to their heavy fumes. Still, it is ideal for high-traffic areas like doors, trim or front porch floors because of how smoothly it dries.
Your paint’s finish will determine how it’ll look when it’s dry. Satin or glossy finishes resist scuff marks, making them ideal for high-trafficked areas whereas a flat or matte finish might be best for siding. Here’s a quick primer on different finishes.
- Flat or matte: Since it’s the least durable finish option, many homeowners might dismiss flat finish paint for their exteriors. But don’t discount it just yet. Flat paint’s non-reflective qualities can be ideal for low-traffic areas like a home’s siding because it can hide any imperfections like scuffed or dented siding.
- Satin: The middle ground of paint finishes, satin paint isn’t as shiny as its glossy counterparts, but it’s not completely dull like matte options. It looks best on wood or cement siding.
- Glossy: Glossy paint has the shiniest finish. Since it’s durable and water resistant it’s great for parts of your home’s exterior that are exposed to the elements. You’ll want to avoid glossy paint on any imperfections, since the shiny finish will draw the eye toward them.
- Semi-gloss: The most durable choice, semi-gloss is a tad less shiny than glossy paint. It’s perfect for doors and trim work since it’ll be resistant to scuff marks.
So, what color should I paint my house?
If you’re looking for a safe, science-backed choice that will attract buyers, your best bet is to pick a neutral color. Like a clean sheet of paper, whites, beiges, taupes and other neutrals feel welcoming to prospective buyers and allow them to envision a future in the house. Since paint exterior colors tend to last a long time, you don’t want to make too bold a choice for potential buyers.
“Given the semi-permanent nature of an exterior paint job, I normally advise against painting a home’s exterior in bright, bold colors,” Lang says. “Generally, soft white colors, like Chantilly Lace and White Dove by Benjamin Moore, stand the test of time.”
Interested in trying out a few colors to see how they look? Professional painters often offer exterior rendering services, according to Lang, so you can test out what color might look best, without making too much of a commitment.
If you’re looking for more guidance on whether your house needs repainting or what colors to go with, your real estate agent can help you come to a decision.
A top agent can help guide you through color trends and advise you on what selections will help you get the highest ROI. Their expert recommendations will help you understand what colors are the best fit for your home style and neighborhood.
Header Image Source: (Garrett Sears / Unsplash)