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Habitat plus - on the outside

White and other pale neutrals are often a go-to choice for the outside of a house. They’re easy on the eye and sit happily in both urban and more natural situations. There’s even a colour called Resene House White, which many painters of long-standing will tell you is the perfect greyedged white for exterior use.

For exteriors, it’s often best to stay clear of bright whites. Our intense sun in this part of the world can make pure white quite blinding to look at. You and your neighbours may end up having to wear sunglasses, even when the sun isn’t shining.

Use the light reflectance value (LRV) that is handily noted on the back of Resene paint chips to guide you. Any colour with an LRV of higher than 85% may be too bright for exterior use unless your house sits in a shady wooded dell.

Our bright light quality will also make any colour look far paler outside than it does inside. If you have any doubts about the strength of the colour, err on the side of caution and go a shade or two darker. So choose Resene Half Tapa rather than Resene Eighth Tapa, for example.

When you’re choosing an exterior colour scheme, consider the setting. Grey-based neutrals, like Resene Concrete, Resene Silver Chalice and Resene Delta, would look smart in an urban setting, whereas more brown or green edged neutrals like Resene Sandstone and Resene Ash, might suit a rural or more natural setting.

You’re going to buy a lot of paint for an exterior, so it’s even more important to test your colour choice first. Buy Resene testpots in your favourite colours and paint a large piece of card leaving a white border around the edge. Pin it up on both the shady and the sunny side of the house. Always paint two coats and allow it to fully dry to get a true colour rendition.

exterior colour scheme - 1 Left: Resene Half Masala, Resene Half Taupe Grey and Resene Fuscous Grey, designed by hungerford+edmunds architects. Right: Resene Thorndon Cream weatherboards, Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream trims, Resene Triple Thorndon Cream sills and Resene Shuttle Grey veranda boards, designed by LAD Architecture.

exterior colour scheme using dark colours Resene Double Gravel weatherboards in a house by Jennian Homes Coromandel.

The details

Bright light quality will also reduce contrast, so as well as going for a darker shade, opt for a larger contrast between, for example, your weatherboard and trim colours. Traditionally, timber trims and joinery are painted in white or off-white to off-set any bolder colours used on the cladding. A modern alternative for traditional houses is to go all white, and let the decorative elements of fretwork and balustrades provide the visual interest.

If you have a modern house with aluminium joinery or are building from scratch and using aluminium, you will find that the standard range of powder-coat colours is limited and some are very distinctive. Distinctively coloured joinery limits what colour changes you or other owners of your house can make in future so a neutral coloured metal window may be best. Ask the joinery manufacturer for larger metal samples rather than relying on small samples from brochures or a website.

outside colour schemes Top Left: Resene Spanish White screen with Resene Woodsman Crowshead deck and fence; designed by Flourish Garden Concepts. Center: Resene Bleached Grey from the Resene Concrete Stain range. Right: Resene Sea Fog house renovated by Ardmore Architects. Lower left: Resene Woodsman Crowshead fence.

In the garden

Of course, paint colour choice doesn’t end on the walls of your house. Fences, decks and other garden features usually need to be painted too.

Boundary fences can be treated in a number of ways. Many homeowners prefer to make a feature of the front fence, while letting side and rear fences be less showy. The colour of a front fence should be in style with your house, so you might go for a white picket or tongue-and- groove capped fence for an older character home, painted the same colour as the window trims. Or you may go for a smart slatted fence in moody black for a modern home.

If you have planted garden beds or hedges near your perimeter fences, black or almost-black fence paint or stain, such as Resene All Black or Resene Pitch Black, is a good choice. Black fences will recede and therefore give the garden the appearance of being larger – your eye will find it tricky to tell the difference between the plant shadows and the edge of the property. Black also offsets the verdant greens and other foliage colours.

If you use white or pale colours near plants, you may be in for higher maintenance as the paint work will show the dirt more easily.

Top tip

If you are going for a dark neutral house, remember to ask for Resene CoolColour paint. It reflects more of the sun’s UV than a standard version of the colour, protecting the paint and the cladding by minimising heat stress and potential damage.

Did you know…

Did you know that Resene has a range of concrete finishing products to help keep your concrete looking good or enhance its appearance – from Resene Concrete Clear to Resene Concrete Stain?


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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.