Testing Exterior Paint Colors for Your Home

Finding the right exterior paint colors is both art and science. You need to have a good eye color or artistic sense to complement or contrast the paint color with the roof, the garden, the door and the windows. Nonetheless, you should also know the science side of exterior painting in order to get that color in your head out to your house's exterior.

Do a "Digital" Test

Say you love the color of spring: yellow, green, earthy colors. You would want these colors in different parts of your house's exterior, yet you do not know which color goes on which part. To see a snapshot of how your house would look with the colors in your head, do a digital test using your digital camera and free online software or Photoshop. This way, you get to see the initial results of your color combination without spending a dime.

Take pictures of your house. Snap photos in different directions and angles. Download the files to your computer. Next, open Photoshop and color the pictures. Color print afterwards. If you do not know how to use Photoshop, you can search for online software that offers free uploading and coloring of digital photos of houses. You can save, download and print your results.

Test with Small Batches of Paint

Bring the results of your digital house painting to the hardware store. Purchase a small can of paint, just several ounces, for each color in your palette. Although there are quart paint cans available, hardware stores do offer small paint cans in ounces specifically packaged for paint testing.

Do not purchase pre-mixed paints as they may not match the colors that you want. Ask the store clerk if they do color mixing. Most paint stores do. You can get your order right on the spot for most colors; however, for unusual colors (especially if you’re buying touchup paints) you have to wait several days before your order becomes available. Some color-combinations and paint formulas require research.

Buy several sheets of cardboard, too, as a test surface for the colors in your palette.

Go outside and bring the cardboard and paint. Paint samples, and leave them outside to dry. Expose the samples to the weather for 24 hours before checking your results. Working outside and letting 24 hours to pass before deciding on a color is necessary when working with exterior paint. The final paint color is dependent on many factors, including paint’s chemical reaction to sun’s ultraviolet rays. Some paint goes dull or turns a shade darker or lighter when worked on or exposed under sunlight.

Bring the sheets to the hardware store when ordering a new batch of test paints. Test the paints again on a clean cardboard sheet. When the desired color is achieved, it is time to do a patch paint test.

Patch Paint Test

Strip, sand, smooth and prime a small area of the surface that you will paint. Paint the color on the surface in several coats. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours. Check if the paint reacts to the surface prepped with paint stripper and other chemicals. If the surface is prepped and primed well, it is most likely that you will not have paint color problems, such as excessive paint absorption or darkening or lightening of shade.