Choosing colors for your home's exterior is a daunting task. This project is on a much bigger scale than interior painting, of course, and it's an expensive one if you're hiring a pro. A number of the exterior paints Consumer Reports tested will look good for eight to 10 years. That's great news if you love the colors you chose. 

"Homeowners often opt for colors that are neutral or are tied to a particular architectural or regional style," says Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore's color and design expert. Color experts may create palettes using a number of colors, but for the rest of us, use more than three or four colors on a house and it starts to look chaotic.

Here's what else to keep in mind. 


Consider the elements that won't change. As you narrow down your choices, be sure to account for the existing colors—the roof, stonework, and landscaping. Colors with similar undertones unite these elements, and contrasting colors highlight detailing. 

Look at the bigger picture. Take cues from your neighborhood, and imagine how your colors will fit in without being too close to the colors of the homes next door.

Factor in the natural light. It plays an important role and makes colors look lighter. Paint a swatch on the front of your house where it's in full sun and not where there are shadows, such as the porch. Look at the color at different times of the day to see how the light affects your take on it. 

To find the best palette for your architectural style, read Preferred Palettes, below.

Preferred Palettes

Consumer Reports talked to a handful of color experts about winning color palettes for a variety of house styles. Use them to start your search for the perfect one. And go to the websites of paint manufacturers for a look at exterior palettes they suggest for a variety of architectural styles. If you find colors you love from a brand that's not your top pick, your go-to paint store can match almost any paint color and come very close to the original.

Colonial: Think about gray-blue siding, white trim, and glossy black on the shutters and front door.

Contemporary: Go with griege, a mix of light gray and beige, for the siding, warm gray accents, and a jaunty orange door. 

Craftsman: How about muted green for the siding, cream trim, and deep green for window trim and doors?

Farmhouse: Consider barn-red siding, greenish-gray trim, and an ocher door.

Federal brick: Pick up the color of the mortar with cream trim, green shutters, and a darker green door. 

Mid-century ranch: Emphasize the modern lines with charcoal siding, white trim, and a teal door. 

Spanish colonial: Try out warm tones like tan siding, mossy green trim, and a russet door. 

Tudor revival: Update the look by painting siding pale gray, trim dark gray, and the door blue. 

Victorian: Be bold with a trio of smoky purples and stone.