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Monday, September 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Home and garden

Ask the Builder: Selecting exterior paint colors is confounding for some

One of these colors may end up over the entire house. Color selection confounds many. (Tim Carter / Tribune Content Agency)
One of these colors may end up over the entire house. Color selection confounds many. (Tim Carter / Tribune Content Agency)
By Tim Carter Tribune Content Agency

Q. Please help me, Tim! I’m trying to select a new color for the outside of my house. Looking at samples on a brochure, I’m frozen and unable to make a decision. I don’t want to make a mistake. Please share a few tips that can relieve my anxiety like ice cream satisfies my sweet tooth. – Deb M., Turtle Lake, North Dakota

A. You’re not alone. Color selection stymies lots of people, including me! The ability to visualize different and complementary colors over large areas, like the outside of a home, is a gift. Treasure it if you have it.

The anxiety surrounding a decision like this is real. You don’t want your house to look ugly to others. You may not have the money to correct a color mistake. You need to get it right the first time.

I’ll share the same advice I gave my customers years ago. Get in your car and drive around through neighborhoods looking for houses that look like yours and that have a color scheme that you really like. This can now be done sitting in your living room looking at hundreds of house listings on real estate sites. You can also use different social media websites that curate millions of photos of houses.

Once you locate a few colors you like, use the color chip samples from paint stores to get close to the colors that excite you. Purchase a small sample can and paint part of your house with it. Be sure to wash this part of the house with soap and water before applying the paint.

Colors can fool you. A color that looks great on a small chip may appear much darker when it dries on a larger area. Paint stores can reduce the color saturation to reduce the boldness of the color by adding less of the pigment to the base.

If your roof makes up lots of what you see when you view your home from the street, make sure the color of the roof compliments the house colors. The same is true for windows that come with a factory color that can’t be changed.

The key to eliminating your anxiety is selecting colors that make you feel good. Most people have certain colors that create a feeling of happiness. For me, it happens to be bright blues, reds and some greens.

I also recommend that once you feel you have the right colors, paint part of one side of the house. Stand back and look at it at different times of day to ensure you really feel good about what it will look like when complete.

Subscribe to Carter’s newsletter and listen to his podcasts at

Wordcount: 455
Tags: ae, home-garden

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