The exterior paint colour you choose can enhance the architecture of your home and its street presence. Choose the right palette and you’ll also set the tone of your design style.

Paint is a great way to upgrade the aesthetics of your home without undergoing major renovations. Taking the time to choose the right exterior paint colour and type is considered a valuable investment whether you’re simply freshening up your home or putting it on the market to sell.

Top tips for choosing an exterior paint colour

popular driveway surfaces

Here are the top things to consider when choosing the right exterior paint colour for your home:

Local regulations

Before you gather inspiration from Pinterest and Houzz and collecting paint swatches, it’s worth checking the regulations with your local council. This is particularly important if you’re living in a heritage area.

Do you want to compliment or modernise?

Decide on whether you’re looking to compliment your home’s design style and era or give it a modern twist. For older homes, sticking with a traditional colour palette can be a safe bet, but for a contemporary look, you could opt for blacks, greys and dark blues.

Existing features

If exterior paint is your tool for refreshing the aesthetics of your home instead of a full-blown renovation, you’ll need to consider the existing features. Choose complementary colour tones that work well with elements such as your roof and driveway to maintain visual balance. A neutral colour palette can be effective at creating this cohesion.

Highlighting features

When choosing an exterior paint colour, you’ll need to select one or two shades to highlight architectural features such as the door, window edging or balustrades. You should also consider the right tone for your fence and smaller accessories such as a letterbox. More than three colours, however, can lose impact.

Sample pots over swatches

The paint colour you choose in the paint shop is going to look very different when painted on mass. Switch your swatches with sample pots and paint a generously sized patch on an inconspicuous part of your home. That way you can see it under different light and weather conditions giving you a real-life feel for the colour.

Texture and depth

Consider enriching your exterior with other materials to complement your paint choices. Adding natural materials such as stone, timber or concrete tiles can add texture, dimension and interest to your home. This will not only set the tone but also enhance your curb appeal.

Selecting the right paint for your exterior

Eco Outdoor scatter cushions

When choosing the best exterior paint colour for your home you’ll also need to choose the right type of paint for your application. There are typically three choices when it comes to exterior paint: water-based (acrylic), oil-based enamel or lime paint.

Water-based (acrylic)

Water-based paint is commonly used to finish the exterior of homes as it has a large colour range, reasonably quick drying time and is easy to apply. Depending on the quality of the paint, it will offer UV protection and a high durability against dirt, stains and mould. Most quality paint brands will also guarantee their water-based exterior paints are breathable and expand so that moisture won’t be trapped causing cracking or peeling.

Oil-based enamel

Unlike water-based paints, oil paints consist of a pigment and resin with a solvent thinner. Oil-based paints are known for the adhesion quality which is why they are often used on metals that are prone to rust or areas such as doors and windows that often end up being chipped over time. Oil-based painting takes much longer to dry than acrylics and shouldn’t be applied over a surface previously painted with an acrylic paint.

Lime paint

Lime paint has become a popular product for external applications for its natural, textural aesthetics. It’s made of clay, minerals and natural pigments which means the colour range tends to work beautifully with the outdoors. Beyond aesthetics, the benefits of using lime paint are that it doesn’t contain any chemicals and also carries natural anti-fungal properties to prevent the painted surface moulding over time. However, the main benefit is that it allows the surface to breathe so moisture can be freely withheld and exchanged resulting in no cracking or peeling.

Choosing the right paint finish

Depending on the type of exterior paint you choose, you’ll also need to select a finish. Paint manufacturers will have different trade names for these finishes, but the most common ones are:

  • Flat – easy to apply and tends to hide imperfections, but doesn’t clean as easily.
  • Satin – offers a low lustre and is typically easy to maintain.
  • Semi-gloss – slightly less shine than glossy paint, durable and easy to maintain. Good for trim work.
  • Gloss – tough to apply, accentuates imperfections but cleans very well. Better suited to trim or areas of contrast.

Key characteristics of a quality exterior paint

Eco Outdoor Ravello travertine used as pool coping in a residential swimming pool application

  • Durability – How well the paint holds up against dirt, stains or mould.
  • UV protection – The paints response to consist sun exposure which is particularly important for those living in hotter regions.
  • Colour retention – The ability of the exterior paint to retain its original colour following exposure to the elements.
  • Resistance against chalking – Chalking can occur as the binder breakdown over time leaving a white powder on the surface.
  • Resistance to cracking/peeling – Cracking, peeling and blistering typically occurs if the paint doesn’t breath or excessive moisture has built up through the substrate.
  • Coverage – How well the paint evenly covers the surface. This isn’t applicable if you’re choosing lime paint for the natural texture and layering effect.


Feature image:  Bauwerk Colour Lime Paint