Painting Your Home? 12 Things to Know Before You Start

There are 12 things to know before painting your home. Choosing a home exterior paint color can be frightening. Our brick&batten designers have come up with some solid ways to help you choose the best home exterior paint color without losing your sanity in the process.  Spending countless hours in front of the paint samples at the hardware store is a huge waste of time. How in the world are you supposed to take that 1×1 inch sample and envision how that’s going to look on your home? It’s nearly impossible! Not to mention, the samples don’t necessarily mean that’s how the paint will appear on YOUR house.  There are so many factors involved that influence how our eye perceives paint color, especially when painting outdoors.  

12 things to know before painting your home


#1. Identify Your Goals

A more beautiful house that you’re proud of is definitely a goal. Adding value to possibly your largest investment, your house, is also a goal. However, think deeper… what do you want to accomplish through painting? Be realistic and think about your goals.  A coat of paint isn’t going to turn your Victorian home into a mid-century modern no matter what colors you choose. Are you wanting a darker dramatic shade to help your home stand out or are you already in a dark, shady environment and want to lighten things up?  


#2. Educate Yourself

Before painting your home you need to know about undertones, lighting, and LRV. You may REALLY want that modern farmhouse white and have pinned thousands of inspiration homes, but your HOA only allows paint colors in the LRV range of 15-55.  Yes. It sucks! You spend all this time researching only to find out your dream can’t happen. Or, you want the dark house that looks edgy and cool but after it was painted you realize it has a blue undertone you weren’t expecting. Educate yourself first.  


#3. Undertones

Yes, undertones is the dreaded word for designers.  We need to know what undertones are going to appear when you actually spend the time getting the paint on the wall, brick, siding, etc.  Paint color is created from different shades being mixed together… brown, red, black, yellow, white, etc. That said, from the list, what color is going to shine through? That color is your undertone.  The easiest way to identify undertones is to put your paint chip on a piece of white paper.  Really look at it in different lighting. The undertone will shine through.  Sherwin Williams can tell you more!

Soot by Benjamin Moore you’ll notice a charcoal blue undertone.

While, Black Beauty by Benjamin Moore you’ll notice a warmer brown undertone.


#4. Lighting

Different lighting definitely is an issue when painting your home’s exterior.  Do you live in an area with a lot of tree coverage where it’s mostly shaded? In this case, your paint will appear darker. Or, do you live in an area where your home is exposed to full morning sunshine? If so, different tones will definitely appear in your paint making it look lighter and sometimes even a completely different color. 


This is popular Edgecomb Gray on a sunny day and cloudy day.  You can see the difference.


#5. White or Off-White Paint

White, or shades of white, are the trickiest all of all in my opinion.  There is nothing simple about white! If you’re thinking undertones, which you should be before painting, whites are going to be filled with different colors and tones.  Does the white turn gray in different lighting? Is it a stark white with blue undertones? Is it a warm white with yellow undertones? Does it stay consistent throughout the day or do you end up with a different shade by evening?  Whites will fool you almost 100% of the time.

white paint

#6. Black or Charcoal Paint

Yup. Just like whites, black paint is another difficult color to truly figure out. Just when you think it’s the perfect black, a sneaky undertone shows through and you end up with a dark brown or in some cases a tinge of blue.  To find a neutral black sounds good but lighting takes over and blacks change colors. Learn more about our favorite black paint colors.

dark paint


#7. LRV

The acronym LRV stands for Light Reflectance Value (or sometimes Light Reflective Value). Light reflectance value refers to how light or how dark a paint color is and how much light a paint color reflects. The darker the paint color- the lower the LRV number.  The lighter the paint color- the higher the LRV number. Colors with a higher LRV can be challenging because they pick up the colors around them. In contrast, depending on the environment, colors with a lower LRV may need more exterior light because the paint isn’t reflecting the light around. 

We always recommend sampling and testing paint colors before committing. Factors such as natural lighting, undertones, and your property’s fixed elements will have a significant impact on how a color will appear on your exterior. Our friends at Samplize offer extra-large 9 x 14.75 inch peel-and-stick paint samples of the colors we love for exteriors. Order your ‘Real Paint, No Mess’ samples from Samplize here.

#8. Fixed Elements

What are fixed elements? Turns out fixed elements are easy to identify in most cases. Fixed elements are things you aren’t changing.  Before you paint, identify what is not going to change. For example, if you’re not replacing your roof, it becomes a fixed element. Garage doors, driveway, landscape, neighbors’ homes, gutter placement and color, soffits, etc. could all potentially be fixed elements.  They will have an impact on the color you choose.


#9. Keep it Simple

You don’t need 5, 6, 7 different paint colors on your home’s exterior.  Keep it simple. If you have brick or stone, you’re already dealing with different shades within those elements. Not to mention some of the multidimensional roof styles.  You already have a lot going on. That said, it’s best to stick with 2 or 3 different colors, max. Draw colors from the brick or stone and use those shades for your other elements.  

too many colors

#10. Dirty Colors

It sounds like a load of laundry but turns out clean and dirty refers to paint colors as well.  Dirty colors are those that appear muted. It’s not the 8 pack Crayola Crayons. It’s the watercolors.  The color of the old Victorian house with the muddy or toned down shades are generally considered dirty. If you’re going with a dirty color palette, then hold true to the muted tones.


#11. Clean Colors

Clean colors, on the other hand, are more vibrant and crisp. They can be dark or light but they tend to stand out. That said, when painting your home’s exterior or interior, you DO NOT MIX clean and dirty colors.  Mixing the two only creates chaos, clean colors stick out like a sore thumb, and even the clean tend to look dirty when paired with them!

clean v dirty colors


#12. Get a brick&batten Virtual Exterior Design

It’s just as easy to paint your house the right color as it is the wrong color. Our brick&batten designers KNOW paint! They know undertones and LRV and are trained to find the best color for your home’s architecture and environment.  Then, SHOW in a virtual photo what your  house will look like painted that color.  Keep your hair and let our designers get to work on finding the best color for you!


Want more information on how to choose the best paint color for your home? Click HERE.


Overall, you deserve to live in a house you’re proud of and when it comes down to it, painting your home is a relatively inexpensive way to add major value to your home.  Choosing the correct paint color for your home’s exterior doesn’t have to be a time consuming, sanity taking, head aching experience. Identify your goals. Educate yourself. Get your brick&batten design. And start spending your free time doing something you love instead of standing in the paint aisle at the hardware store! Get started with our simple survey.