The Best Exterior House Paint Colors for Hot and Cold Climates

When choosing an exterior paint color for your home, go beyond just trends and aesthetics. The right paint color can help heat and cool your home naturally, helping to reduce monthly utility bills and saving you money in the long run.

By Rachel Brougham | Published Nov 30, 2023 10:43 PM

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

A-person-stands-on-an-extendable-ladder-and-paints-the-second-story-of-a-house-in-off-white.

Photo: istockphoto.com

You know that wearing dark-colored clothing in the sun attracts heat, while lighter colors help reflect sunlight. The same is true for your home’s exterior paint. In fact, darker-colored homes absorb 70 to 90 percent of the sun’s radiant energy, according to Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, making the temperature of your home rise on sunny days. On the flip side, white and lighter-colored homes reflect the sun’s heat away, helping to keep your home cooler.

So how do you choose the right exterior paint color for your home? You’ll want to consider the climate and weather patterns where you live. If you live in an area with four seasons, try a balanced approach, such as a white, beige or gray exterior with darker contrasting colors on gutters, trim, and shutters. If you live in a place with warm weather throughout the year, you’ll want to avoid dark exterior paint colors, such as navy and black.

We talked with some paint experts to get their picks for the best exterior paint colors for every type of climate, along with tips for finding the right color for your home’s exterior.

1. Consider Light Reflectance Value

A two story house is painted in a creamy off white and surrounded by green landscaping.

Cloud Cover. Photo: benjaminmoore.com

When choosing an exterior paint color, you’ll want to understand how color works. Each color has a LRV (light reflectance value), which lets you know if the color is more reflective or more absorbent.

“Light colors (with an LRV above 55) will tend to reflect light. This could be beneficial in warmer climates when you are trying to keep the inside of your home cool,” explained David Underwood, associate technical project manager with Benjamin Moore. “In contrast to that, darker colors with an LRV less than 55 will absorb light/heat from the sun, which could benefit homes in cooler climates.”

RELATED: The Best Exterior Paints – Picks by Bob Vila

2. Think About Other Existing Colors

Two green potted plants sit next to a yellow door on a porch of a yellow siding house.

Hawthorne Yellow. Photo: benjaminmoore.com

You’ll also want to consider existing materials on your home, such as the roof color, accents such as stone or brick, along with your home’s landscaping. Test paint colors against those materials and features.

To do this, Arianna Barone, color marketing manager at Benjamin Moore, suggests painting large boards with pint-sized paint samples, then viewing them at different times of the day. “Colors will cast lighter on homes that get a lot of direct sunlight, as opposed to those that are shaded by trees,” Barone says. “Natural light can bring out the distinct undertone which may or may not work with your home.”

RELATED: 12 Exterior Paint Colors That Will Help Sell Your House

3. Consider Longevity

A modern house is painted in a pale blue with white trim.

Riverdale and Polar Bear. Photo: behr.com

Color also plays a significant role in keeping the exterior of your home looking good for years to come. “Lighter colors may last longer whereas darker colors may absorb more sunlight which can accelerate fading,” says Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at Behr. “Therefore, choosing a lighter shade in warmer climates may help to increase paint longevity.” Woelfel adds that it’s important to look beyond aesthetics and make durability a priority when choosing exterior colors.

RELATED: How Much Does It Cost to Paint a House (2023)

4. In a Warm Climate? Go Light

An exterior wall of a house with a window is painted pale grey.

Hazy Skies. Photo: benjaminmoore.com

Lighter hues are more popular in warmer climates, and often, lighter hues are more versatile and adaptable with a variety of exterior features like shingles, shutters, landscaping, and masonry accents.

Consider Benjamin Moore colors such as Hazy Skies, which is a light grayish green or Medici Ivory from Sherwin-Williams, which is a soft, bright beige that pairs well with a variety of hues. Woelfel suggests Behr’s Natural White, which will give your home a refined look with the ability to complement accents.

5. Live in a Four-Season Climate? Go For Balance

On the porch of a white house two plants sit on either side of a pale aqua colored door.

Offshore Mist. Photo: homedepot.com

If you live in a part of the country where you experience all four seasons, finding balance in your home’s exterior color scheme should be a priority. Try pairing a neutral, such as light gray, white, or beige with darker accents. This way, the neutrals will help reflect the sun to keep your home cool during the warmer months, while darker accents will help absorb heat when the temperatures drop.

For example, pair a white or light beige with something like Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore on shutters or a front door. Behr’s Offshore Mist is a soft blue that adds a bit of color and creates a calming aesthetic.

RELATED: 10 Welcoming Front Door Paint Colors

6. Go Gray

A two story masonry house is painted in a dark grey color.

Cracked Pepper. Photo: homedepot.com

Grays are a great way to stay neutral. Barone suggests the lighter Stonington Gray that works well in any climate, or Kendall Charcoal, which is a neutral, yet darker, gray for those looking for something a bit more dramatic. Dark Pewter from Behr is another darker, yet still neutral, gray that pairs well with other grays, whites, and even shades of blue.

If you’re looking to try a deeper gray on accents, Behr’s Cracked Pepper is a good option for a front door when paired with a lighter gray exterior paint.

RELATED: The Best Paint Brands – Picks by Bob Vila

7. Beige is Timeless

A covered front porch is painted in tones of beige.

Sparrow. Photo: benjaminmoore.com

Looking for an exterior paint color that is energy efficient for all climates and that will never go out of style? Beige is a good bet as it’s timeless and pairs well with a variety of other accents. Sparrow from Benjamin Moore is a top choice, along with Shoji White from Sherwin-Williams, for a warm white, gray, and beige — otherwise known as a greige color.

For a darker beige, try the warm goldish hue Honey Nougat from Behr, which while a bit deeper in color, still pairs well with a variety of accent hues.

8. Let Nature Play a Role

A two story home with dormer windows is painted a pale blue with a yellow door and greenery surrounding.

Yarmouth Blue. Photo: benjaminmoore.com

“We also tend to see consumers taking inspiration from their surrounding climate and scenery for exterior inspiration,” Barone explains. “Cool and easygoing soft blues and greens and sandy neutrals are often seen on coastal homes.” In addition, Barone says, earthy, deeper colors are also popular for rustic, cottage-style homes.