How to Pick Exterior Paint Colours


It’s spring and that means it’s exterior painting time. In Calgary, the majority of our homes are painted stucco. Just like the inside of a home, exteriors need to be freshened up. They start to show their age and colour palettes change. It’s not hard to drive through a neighbourhood and know when the homes were built just by the exterior colours.

In one community, where we’ve been getting a lot of exterior work, all the homes were painted pastel colours. Now everyone is rushing to paint their exteriors dark brown, dark grey and many shades in between.

Exterior of a yellow home getting painted to Benjamin Moore Rockport Grey

And I’ll be honest here…most of the colours chosen are WRONG WRONG WRONG.

designer picking paint colours for home exterior

It’s not easy to pick paint colours at the best of times, but exteriors are such a large surface that it’s imperative to get it right. It’s easy to get it wrong because of undertones. That’s the sneaky bit of colour that doesn’t really show up on a little swatch, but it makes a grey look purple or a white look yellow. You can read my blog on Creating a Harmonious Space with Matched Undertones for more details.

So you’re asking, how can a colour be wrong if someone likes that colour? Well remember the saying, ‘there are no wrong colours, just wrong combinations’? That’s the problem in a nutshell.

detail of stucco painted to harmonize with stone work

The colour that’s picked for the stucco has to match the brick or stone, the roof, the soffit & fascia, as well as the window trim and any contrasting paint colours. This is where people get it wrong and it turns out ugly. And it hurts…it hurts for two reasons. One being that having an exterior of a home painted is a big investment and not easily redone. The other reason is that everyone driving or walking by has to look at it, including me. It’s very painful to my eyes to see fighting undertones on such large spaces.

We have specified paint colours for many different exteriors. The most important thing is to look at the fixed selections and match to those. This means that you don’t get the colour you love, but you get the colour that belongs with everything.

White soffit and fascia and window trims are really really bossy. If you have white, then you really need to go with a clear  fresh colour. Don’t go too dark or the white will be too much of a contrast. I like the two homes in the photos below as the white looks like it belongs.

stucco home that has been painted to a modern grey

Be careful not to go too dark or muddy with white. In the photo below the dark roof provides a good contrast with the white . I wouldn’t go any darker or muddier with the stucco colour than this because of the white trim.

stucco exterior painted warm brown with white soffit and facia

If you have coloured soffit & fascia and window trim, then you must know what the undertone of this is. It is so important to select colours that have the same undertone so they don’t scream at each other. The photos below show nicely harmonized colours.

exterior of a home with beige brick and paint colour to match

quant cottage style home with stucco and stone exterior

Calgary is famous for it’s stucco homes with just the littlest bit of brick on the front of the garages. What can you do if you don’t like the brick colour? I like the solution below … paint it out!

closeup of painted brick on a stucco home

Adding a few black features will really punch up an exterior. I have to say that a dark grey or warm black roof gets my vote as favourite. It really adds strength to the exterior of a home. Black lanterns, black doors and a touch of wrought iron is a classic look. Here the white is nicely balanced with the black and grey.

exterior close up of stucco home painted grey with black accents

Picking paint colours is not an easy task. When chosen correctly, the exterior of a home can look like a work of art. We’re passionate about colour and take it really seriously. Look at the difference it can make.

stucco home being painted from baby yellow to benjamin moore Rockport Grey

Beautifully coordinated exterior colours for a grey stucco home

Feel like having the exterior of your home refreshed? Give us a call. We have lots of experience with undertones and we also work with some really great painters.

Other Blogs You May Enjoy

Gorgeous Greys

Canadian Colour Inspiration

The New Palette