Green may be all the rage on the runway. But when it comes to the outside of your house, think blue if you're selling and more neutral colors if you're staying awhile. Experts we talked to about colors that help sell a house say traditional trumps trendy. No matter what color you choose, pick a paint that lasts. In Consumer Reports tests of exterior paints, the best still looked excellent after six years and very good after nine.
House colors that sell. "We're seeing more demand for mid-tone blues, between colonial and royal, combined with a return to tan for the trim work," says Debbie Zimmer of the Paint Quality Institute, which is part of Dow Chemical. "We also see more monochromatic schemes, taking one color but mixing different shades and tints for the trim." But deep tones need extra thought: "You don't want people to feel they're walking into a black hole."
Door colors that make a difference. Trendy options span the spectrum between lemon yellow and mid-orange (think Gorilla Glue packaging) to somber colors like burgundy and olive. But garish hues like school-bus yellow or fire-engine red are a no-no, Zimmer adds.
Shades that endure. Whites, grays, and tans are safe choices for lasting appeal. "White with black trim remains a favorite almost everywhere," says Dominic Cardone of the National Association of Realtors. For inland communities, think earth tones, he says; for shore towns, it's pastels.
After you select your color, make sure you get the right finish. Flat and satin finishes are best for siding because they hide flaws by reducing reflections. Semi-gloss paints add some shine to doors and trim, providing visual contrast. Our highest scoring flat exterior paints are California Paints Fres-Coat Velvet Flat, $42 a gallon, and Sherwin-Williams Duration Flat, $63. Sherwin-Williams also topped our picks for satin and semi-gloss exterior paints but paints from Pratt & Lambert, Glidden and Behr (Home Depot) weren't far behind. For full Ratings see our paint buying guide.