Designer Tips for Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

Are you looking for designer tips  in choosing your exterior paint colors?  If so, you’re not alone! Standing at the hardware store looking through thousands of paint chips is just plain overwhelming. Reaching in front of people to grab what looks like the perfect shade, in the awkward light, just doesn’t work! Not to mention, you’re supposed to make this huge decision about your home exterior paint color based on a one inch paint chip.  It doesn’t make sense! However, there is help… knowing a few designer tips for choosing home exterior paint colors can help you make informed decisions.


If you need help making these decisions, we would love to partner with you on a brick&batten design. Our designers are experts in color and can partner with you giving you the confidence to move forward with your home exterior projects.

Paint is broken down into 3 characteristics: value, hue, and chroma. Understanding these characteristics is helpful before standing in the paint aisle. Yes, these words can be tricky but if you’ve said, “I like a dark blue gray” or “I prefer a lighter soft white” than you have used value, hue, and chroma.

Paint Characteristic #1.


Have you heard of LRV?  I’ve done way too much research on LRV and will explain it in layman’s terms.  LRV stands for light reflectance value (or light reflective value).  It basically means the lightness or darkness of a color on a scale of 0 to 100.  The lighter the color, the higher the number.  The darker the color, the lower the number.  When choosing paint for your home’s exterior, LRV can be a real game changer!  You’d think all whites are created equal; however, thanks to LRV and undertones, this isn’t the case.  

Finding the LRV can be a tad tricky.  In the Benjamin Moore fan deck the LRV is found in the Index in alphabetical order by paint color name.

Benjamin Moore light reflective value

Sherwin Williams makes the LRV a bit easier to find, as it’s on the back of the actual paint color in the deck.

Sherwin Williams LRV

Paint Characteristic #2.


Hue and color are sometimes used incorrectly.  Hues are colors of the visual spectrum.  These include: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.  Some say indigo is between blue and violet but this is debatable by color experts. There are also six intermediate hues, which include: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and finally, red-violet.  Color families is another word for hues.  They are blended to create other colors.

Continuous visual spectrum

Paint Characteristic #3.


Chroma is the brightness or purity of color. You may hear designers use words like intensity or saturation… this is another way of saying chroma.  The closer colors are to their pure hue, the greater their chroma. Higher chroma colors are sometimes called clean, pure, rich, bold, or vivid.  Lower chroma colors are sometimes referred to as dirty, muted, dull, or dusty.  

clean v dirty colors

You may know what colors you’re drawn toward and walk away from the paint store with beautiful chips; however, most of the time the chip doesn’t accurately represent how the color will appear on your home’s exterior.  

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.

Tips to remember when choosing exterior paint colors:

→  Paint on the chip will usually appear darker than on your home’s exterior.  Natural sunlight will change the color of the paint making it appear lighter on your home. Thank you LRV! Pro Tip: Test, Test, Test. Read more how to test exterior paint here.

→  Paint appears differently on different textures.  These textures create shadows with mess with the color your eyes see.

→  When painting you need to identify the colors in your fixed elements first.  What are you not changing?  Gutters, window inlays, roof, walkway, landscape, neighbors’ homes, etc.  If these colors are dirty, with a lower chroma, then the paint you select should also have a lower chroma.  If these colors are clean, with a higher chroma, then the paint you select should have a higher chroma.  Pro Tip: Don’t mix dirty and clean exterior colors. 

In conclusion, standing in the hardware store looking through thousands of paint chips is frustrating and truly makes you question everything you know about color! If you leave feeling even more confused and overwhelmed, you’re not alone! I’m sure you’ve seen white houses that have a tinge of pink. Yikes! Or you’ve seen the white that looks drab and dead.  Not ideal! Understanding paints light reflective value, hue, and chroma can help as you begin your search.

Our brick&batten designers are color experts! They know what works and doesn’t work on home exteriors.  Take the worry and frustration out of color guessing and allow us to partner with you on a home exterior design.  It’s just as easy to paint your house the right color as it is the wrong color.  Let’s get it right!