Everything you need to know about painting your home’s exterior

The first impression your house makes is its exterior. It’s what you take in, consciously or subconsciously, every time you return home, and the exterior is what others notice as they pass by. And the color of your facade says something. Is your home light and bright? Moody and dramatic? If you don’t like the statement your home is making, a fresh coat of paint can make a major difference.

Take homeowner Tessa Hubbard’s story. She and her husband were house hunting in the Wilshire Heights neighborhood in East Dallas when they came upon a Tudor-style home. “When our real estate agent first sent me the link of the home, I immediately said no,” Hubbard recalls. “The architecture was wonderful, and the details are charming — but the color was a deep brown, which wasn’t my taste. It immediately colored my overall view of the home, and we told her to look elsewhere. She paused and advised us to look inside before we rejected the house.” Interior Paint Colors

Everything you need to know about painting your home’s exterior

When Hubbard and her husband toured the home, they fell in love with the floor plan. “Painting the outside became our top priority after closing, and it drastically changed the curb appeal and overall image of the house,” she says.

Want to give your home a similar facelift? Follow these tips from Dallas paint experts.

Sign up for the Abode newsletter for a weekly roundup of the latest home, design and real estate stories.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Basic rules of thumb: For a traditional-style home in a family-friendly neighborhood, you can’t go wrong with timeless neutrals. If you’re upgrading a beach house or a lake property, you can use a more whimsical color palette.

Of course, paint color is a personal preference, so make sure that you’ve done your due diligence by gathering as many inspiration photos as you can. “Go on Pinterest or Houzz and start finding colors you like. That’s the best starting point,” says Blake Byrd with Knox Built Construction, which does new builds, remodels and additions.

Designer Alison Kirkpatrick, owner of Lane Living Design, recommends finding inspiration in your own neighborhood. “Take a look at the homes surrounding yours,” says Kirkpatrick. “You do not want to repeat the same color as a neighbor, but you also don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.”

That was the approach Hubbard took to select her home’s new exterior color. She started driving around the neighborhood, taking pictures along the way. “I quickly found one color scheme repeated in my photo album,” she says. “Then we worked with a local paint consultant to choose the exact colors.”

Making your choice is not just about what looks good on swatches. Think about your specific lot. “Our house has many trees, giving it abundant shade, which affects the overall paint color,” Hubbard says. “The house is also made mostly of stonework with varying angles, which shades the paint as well.”

You also have to take into consideration any homeowners association or conservation rules. “Dallas is pretty easy, but there are exceptions,” says Byrd. “There are a handful of pockets of gated communities with HOAs, as well as conservation and preservation districts,” he says. “But generally the person who buys in that neighborhood understands the rules. Outside of HOA and conversation areas, you can pretty much can do whatever you want.”

For Hubbard, working with color strategist Juli Roland of Paint Color Help allowed her to hone in on her dream home’s final palette. “With so many decisions, hiring a paint consultant was essential for us to confidently pull the overall look together,” she shares. Your painter (warning for DIYers: “Painting your exterior is no small project,” says Kirkpatrick) may be able to provide some insight. An interior designer, despite the focus on interior, is a great resource.

“If you haven’t hired a design team or interior designer, and you’re not doing anything besides painting the exterior, lean on your friend group or find someone in the design world to get a second opinion,” Byrd says. “I think that having a second eye is helpful.”

Virtually any surface can be painted. For a combo stone-and-brick home, Byrd recommends a slurry finish on the stone, as opposed to painting the entire home the same color. “Maybe the main entry gable has an Austin stone and everything else is a red brick. If you paint the stone and the brick, it looks like a glob of brick,” he says. “Instead, try a heavy slurry over the top of that stone.”

And yes, painted brick is still a popular choice amongst homeowners, especially in white hues. “So many of the homes that were constructed in the ’80s and ’90s were shelf brick in browns, beiges and reds,” says Byrd. “That style has gone out. A lighter palette of brick freshens up and modernizes the home.”

If you have vinyl siding, make sure it’s washed and dried first. For best results, choose a color that’s about the same hue or lighter than the current color. Darker colors will retain more heat, which can lead to warping.

“We recommend painting a small section of your home’s exterior, such as a discreet area of a wall or trim,” says Kirkpatrick. “This will give you an accurate representation of how the color will look on your home. Keep in mind that colors may appear differently when applied to different surfaces, so it’s a good idea to test on multiple areas.” Lighting conditions can affect the color, too, so Kirkpatrick suggests testing the colors at different times of the day and in various weather conditions.

Byrd advises clients to choose up to four colors in the same color family and paint samples of 2 feet by 2 feet on all four elevations of the home. “Especially with white paint colors, they will change on different elevations and throughout the day. You will want to be able to see what the color looks like in the morning and later,” says Byrd. Once you zero in on a color, you can paint a bigger sample to triple check that it’s the right choice.

For a new build, Byrd uses the same process on a mock-up of the future walls. “We’ll do a 6- or 7-foot-tall mock-up of the brick, and we’ll take those colors and paint them up out at the job site,” says Byrd. Ask your builder for a similar color test.

This is one home improvement project you might want to leave to the experts. Here’s what to think about, according to Jerry Long, owner of Jerry Long Painting. (Based in Richardson, Long covers the D-FW area. He doesn’t have a website, but he can be reached at 214-232-9450.)

The cost to have the exterior of your home painted varies depending on its size, the number of stories, the age of the home (older homes tend to require more prep work, even if they’re not as tall) and the paint you choose.

Long gives the example of a single-story brick house in the Dallas area, built in the 1970s, that’s 2,000-3,000 square feet. The cost for painting that home would probably range from $2,500 to $4,000, he suggests, depending on the prep required. He says a two-story brick home built in the 1990s or 2000s would likely cost between $3,500 and $6,000. (Those price ranges include labor and supplies.)

Have siding? Be prepared to pay more. “Siding will usually need a lot of prep work, like scraping and sanding,” Long explains.

The size of the home obviously makes a big difference here, as does the size of the crew. Long refers back to his example of a 1970s brick home in Dallas. “A home in the middle of that range, at a cost of about $3,000, should take between three and four days to paint,” he says. The drying process is much quicker — a matter of hours.

Of course, if you decide to paint the exterior of your home yourself, the timeline depends on your painting prowess and how long you spend working at any one time.

Depending on the time of year you’re having your house painted, the temperature could cause a delay. Generally, you don’t want to paint in cold temperatures; that can affect the way the paint dries, increase the chances of cracking and reduce life expectancy of the paint. According to Sherwin-Williams, its Duration, Resilience and SuperPaint lines can be applied at lower temperatures (as low as 35 degrees), while traditional latex-based paints need temperatures above 60 degrees to cure. That means you need warmer weather during application and after the sun goes down. Be sure to refer to the paint’s directions for temperature specifics.

If painting the full exterior of your home isn’t in the budget (or perhaps you love your home’s existing color), giving the home’s trim and door a fresh coat of paint can provide the upgrade you need.

Kirkpatrick says doors, shutters and trim are a place to show off your personality. “I always recommend pulling in more of a pop with your front door or shutters, as those are easier to change down the road,” she says. For instance, she recently painted the door of a house in Highland Park a beautiful lavender, using Benjamin Moore’s “Amethyst Sky.”

Byrd agrees that those areas are prime for adding more striking shades. “I think windows are a good opportunity for this, especially shutters. With windows you can take it one of two ways. If you want to give it more of a pop, I would go with a dark bronze for a steel look on the windows. Or if you have a white exterior, maybe you paint a light blue shutter, that way it doesn’t feel like one white mass.”

Everything you need to know about painting your home’s exterior

Emulsion Interior Paint If you need some ideas for exterior paint colors, here are Kirkpatrick’s favorites. Before getting started, take note of this piece of advice regarding white paint colors: “Many painters transfer colors to Sherwin-Williams,” says Kirkpatrick, referring to colors from other brands of paint that people ask Sherwin-Williams to match. “I do not recommend this for white colors, as the slightest tweak can change the color completely. Be sure to have this conversation with your painter prior.”