How do I Choose a Yellow Exterior Paint Color?


Yellow is the bright and cheery color of sunlight. It is the yolk of an egg or the creamy color of butter. Yellow is a classic exterior house color, chosen by many homeowners. However, if you pick the wrong shade of yellow, you may end up with the garish yellow house that everyone in the neighborhood talks about. Rather than becoming the house of directions ("Turn right at the screaming yellow house--don't worry, you can't miss it), take a little extra time and discover the perfect shade of yellow.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint chips
  • Paint samples
  • Paintbrush
  • Tinted primer
  • Research the era of your home. If you are seeking a historically accurate yellow, paint stores have brochures with suggested color combinations for homeowners. In addition, you can research paint colors online and in books.

  • Go to the paint store and select a variety of paint chips. Yellow is a complex color, so choose brighter yellows as well as the more muted tones. If you fall in love with a color in a brochure, get the chip for that color. Also choose chips in lighter and darker tones of your favorite yellows.

  • Take the chips home and tape to the wall outside your front door. After a few days of looking at the chips morning, noon and night, select two or three of your favorites. Go back to the paint store and buy samples or quart-sized cans in each shade of yellow.

  • Paint a large square of each sample next to the front door. If you have chosen a different trim color, paint the trim too. Spend at least a week looking at the yellows next to the trim. You may realize that your favorite yellow has a green or red undertone that does not work with your color scheme. It may look fabulous at noon, but by evening turns into a shade of stomach-churning chartreuse. On the other hand, you may like the shade of yellow, but find that it is too bright. Return to the paint store with the chip and purchase another quart of the yellow in a different or lighter shade.

  • Purchase one gallon of primer tinted to your favorite shade of yellow. Paint the front of your house over the weekend, then live with it for a week. Ask your friends and neighbors what they think of the color. If you like it, but are still doubtful, have the paint store mix another gallon, one shade lighter. Test that color before painting the entire house. Once you decide that you like a particular shade of yellow, purchase enough primer and paint to finish painting the house.

Tips & Warnings

  • Drive around the neighborhood and look at the yellow houses. If you see one you really like, ask the homeowner what color he used.
  • Remember that paint chips are usually lighter than the actual color.
  • If you are not sure what the undertone of a shade of yellow is, hold your yellow chip against a white background. You can usually tell if it is greenish or reddish against the white.
  • Check with your homeowners association before painting your house. Often there are specific colors that are allowed in the neighborhood. Yellow may be on the forbidden color list, but another shade of a yellow-toned paint, like butter or cream, may be acceptable.
  • Do not rush into choosing a yellow. If you are in a hurry, pick a lighter yellow. You can always repaint later if it is too light.

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  • Photo Credit yellow house image by michele goglio from
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