How to Choose Your Outdoor (Exterior) Paint

I drove through a neighborhood recently and saw a home painted dark olive/tan with a white garage door. The shutters and front door were painted black. It was both stunning and very different from the lighter, brighter colors one usually finds. I decided it was worthy of an article this month.

If you're thinking about having your home painted a bright color or going against the "neighborhood norm" (whatever that may be), pay attention to these tips.

Government restrictions - It may be your home (you know this because of the huge mortgage you're slowly paying off), but you can't just go paint your home any color you want. There are regulations, you know, in most communities. Check with your city's or town's building or planning department for guidelines. Codes governing exterior house colors may be in place. This is especially true in historic districts or redevelopment areas.

Homeowner associations - Many associations have tight restrictions on what you can do. Check first so you're not sorry later.

Sample first - Buy samples of colors you're considering first and try out on patches of your home's exterior. Colors take on different tints and shades depending on the texture of the surface and light conditions. The color will look different in the morning than the afternoon, and different again in the evening and at night.

Fading potential - Dark colors tend to fade faster than lighter ones.

Live with the color for a week or two - Try the color out in a sunny spot and a shady spot. Colors are also different after they are thoroughly dry from when they are not.

Heat considerations - Dark colors will absorb more heat. During the summer, this can mean more heat in the home, plus more energy (and dollars) to keep things cool. Light colors will reflect sunlight and heat.

Run it by your neighbors - If you're considering a radical change from what you've had, it might be a good idea to run it past your neighbors. No sense in stirring up trouble over a color when there are millions of colors to choose from. Bold colors can be offensive to your neighbors. Colors that vary dramatically from the "norm" of the neighborhood will also be harder to sell.

Personalize with responsibility - I'm all for the freedom to do as you please. It's your home, afterall. But with freedom comes a measure of good sense and public awareness and sensibility. Use good sense. Treat your neighbors as you would like them to treat you.

Other September Tips:

Barbara Jennings is a well known author and interior decorator in Southern California. She is also a published artist. She teaches rearrangement design and how to do it as a home based business. Visit her website at Decorate-Redecorate.Com. Used by permission.

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