How to Choose Exterior Trim Paint Color

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It's easy to choose an exterior trim paint color that looks attractive. Dark brown with a beige house, white trim on a sage green house--easy, right? Instead of choosing exterior trim paint colors that simply look okay, choose colors that will make the most of your home's architecture--whether it's a 1940s bungalow or a contemporary two-story home. You have almost limitless choices with modern exterior colors to make your home distinctive and add curb appeal without being either ho-hum or garish with fresh trim and accent colors.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint swatches
  • Sample of paint color


  1. Take fixed elements on your home into account when choosing paint colors. Avoid colors that will clash with your roof, brick or stonework.

  2. Consider the big picture. Don't paint your house in the same color scheme as your neighbor's house. If your house is surrounded by trees or located at the rear of your lot, use crisply contrasting trim colors to make it stand out, or try a more subtle color combination to make it recede into the surroundings.

  3. Use complementary colors to make your trim and architectural details stand out. Complementary colors are those opposite each other on the color wheel (See Resources.), like blue and red. This doesn't mean you need to paint your trim red on a blue house. But instead of cool, stark white trim, use a warm, creamy white or light tan for your cool blue or gray house.

  4. Choose more subtle trim colors for an understated, conservative look. Pick colors from the same paint swatch, and use two or three shades of the same color for the main color, trim and accents.

  5. Visit a paint or home store, and pick up paint swatches. Ask for color selection brochures. Most paint companies publish brochures with suggested color combinations, often based on period and architecture type.

  6. Use a vibrant, welcoming accent color for your front door. Choose a color that hints at your interior decor or personality, one that matches the car in your driveway or even a color that matches flowers in your front yard.

  7. Accent attractive architectural details and minimize unattractive ones with trim color. Unless you think your downspouts and garage door are worthy of accentuating, paint them the same color as the body of the house.

Tips & Warnings

  • Invest in a quart of paint and test every color on your home before making a final decision because it's difficult to predict exactly how the colors will look from the little paint swatch.
  • If you have a homeowner's association, make sure you're using approved colors before proceeding.




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