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Choosing Paint Colors

Choosing Paint Colors
Always a Difficult Task

Well chosen collection of paint colors can revitalize every surface of your home, from the walls and ceilings to the exterior siding and trim. An entirely new look is possible, but with thousands of house paint colors dozens of manufactures and many sheens to choose from the possible combinations of house painting colors can be mind numbing.

This subject is the one that most people have the greatest trouble with, including my customers. Although the processes involved with house painting are relatively simple to understand, selecting a paint color can be extremely difficult and time consuming.

The challenge is to find the best colors to fit your ambitions and still have a color scheme that will be enjoyable or increase your homes resale value.

It’s best to get this right the first time, but fortunately paint is fairly inexpensive and in many situations the color can be easily changed with a little more effort and a few more gallons of paint.


There Are No Easy Rules For Choosing House Painting Colors


The basic principles of color are hue, value, intensity and temperature. By combining these four ideas all potential combinations are possible.

The Basic Terms of Color

  • Hue – Hue is another word for color. All colors you see and can imagine are hues. Typically the term applies to combinations of primary colors with different values and intensities. Hue is a favorite term of decorators.
  • Value – This term refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. Value is determined by the amount of white, gray or black that is added to a pure color. Think of this as "light", "medium" or "dark". Other related terms are tint, shade and tone.
  • Intensity – Intensity is the measurement of the brightness of a color. If a color strikes you as light, medium or dark you are judging the value. While intensity is bright or dull. Low intensity hues are commonly used as main colors while higher intensity hues are used for accents.
  • Temperature – Colors are often referred as warm or cool. Red, orange and yellow seem warm, like fire. While blue and green are cool. Neutral refers to a combination of warm and cool, example is beige. The temperature of a color helps set the mood and can affect your perceptions of a room or space.

A hue can be combined with another then lightened or darkened in an infinite number of ways. The goal is finding balance between these four ideas and achieving a look you can live with.

The best place to start is with yourself and the colors you like. Determining which paint colors you like or should avoid is your biggest challenge. An understanding of color and its effect on your mood will help you make choices. Developing your own paint color scheme and sense of style is a large part of this process.

A great way to begin is to see different combinations of paint colors used by others.

Due to limitations of the printing process and the use of graphics software the colors in books and magazines may not be an exact representation of any paint colors.

Books and magazines are a perfect place to start. As you probably found out, the amount of inspirational resources is astounding.

Many of my customers start with magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens. These magazines are inexpensive and full of pictures. You will find a lot of variety concerning interior decorating and home improvement. Use magazines for inspiration only. Applying the exact colors seen in a magazine will almost never produce the same pleasing results.

Books are your next source; seek out books on specific topics concerning your needs. The advantage, more detailed information will be provided and with pictures. An example of a topic is choosing exterior paint colors. A book with specific information on a specific topic is better than several with general information, no need to purchase 3 books when one will do.

Paint color fan deck.

Another resource is a manufactures paint color fan deck. These can help you choose the best combinations of house painting colors for your interior or exterior project. Every color fan deck is arraigned to provide the maximum amount of possible color schemes.

Unfortunately the volume of paint colors often adds to the confusion. A paint manufactures fan deck is basically a color wheel taken to the extreme.

You don’t need a full understanding of color theory or years of professional experience, but comprehending the effects of color on a space will be very useful.

Once the colors have been chosen you need to apply paint samples and check the real look of the paint. All colors will be affected by the surrounding environment and almost never look exactly as you think.

Double checking the paint colors will save you time, effort and money. This applies to both interior and exterior house painting.


Exterior House Painting Colors


A sense of style when choosing exterior paint colors is as important as the landscaping, and let’s not forget the visitor and neighbors. Your home is visible to the entire world and the right choice of paint colors for the main body, trim, and other ascents can increase the sense of pride and the homes value.

Paint does more than make the exterior look good.

Choosing the best colors for your location can add years to the paint job. Not all colors retain their original look when exposed to sunlight and harsh weather. Plus some colors can take many coats, 4-6, before the desired look is achieved.

The best exterior colors are neutral toned with a medium value. All light to medium browns and beige colors cover well and have a better than average resistance to UV light. The worst colors to work with are pure colors, reds and yellows. These colors will require mutable coats plus will oxidize faster, especially reds.

Other considerations are covenants or restrictions that will dictate the range of color combinations that can be used on the exterior of your home.

This can involve newer subdivisions as well as older homes with historic value. Confirm with your homeowners association which types of color combinations they desire and the approval time it takes for your colors.

If you are currently involved with restoring an older home check with you’re local housing authorities on the use of historic colors and color schemes appropriate to your houses architecture. You could even receive tax credits and other incentives to restore your home to its original beauty. Past customers have received as much as 50% of the contract price for an exterior paint job. Well worth a few phone calls.


Interior House Painting Colors


Choosing an interior paint color is one of the most difficult parts of any house painting project and should be done before any paint is purchased or applied. When choosing interior color schemes you will need to take into account all aspects of your current and future decorating styles.

From the flooring materials to your furnishings all colors and textures will affect the possible choices and the final outcome of your interior design. All surfaces will change the appearance of any paint color.

Unless new carpet is in the immediate future the floor surface will influence the final appearance of your chosen color. Furnishings, window treatments, art, and all accessories also have an effect on the outcome of any room’s style.

Applying paint color samples to a wall.

Another aspect of color is its ability to change the perceived proportions of a room. A room can appear larger, smaller or taller; an example is a lighter ceiling will make the walls appear taller.

The choice of paint sheen also affects the final look and overall feel of every room. From cozy to formal, with the right choices a distinct mood can be created using paint colors and your existing furnishings.

There are many decorative painting ideas and possibilities available to you. Some can be dramatic, such as accent colors, and others hardly noticeable. With the needed hours (or days) spent choosing and applying samples, the best color can be chosen.