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Siding color swatch collage


Color Theory: Understanding Color Choices

Color Theory organizes hues and shades of colors through a collection of rules and guidelines. It is used to create a logical structure for color and to create a harmonious balance between one another in design. Each color scheme is going to give your exterior a different energy: blue being calming, yellow more inviting, green more balancing. Color Theory is a practice created by Sir Isaac Newton in the 1600s to give a better understanding of how humans perceive color. Color Theory is made up of several aspects: the color wheel, color harmonies, and the colors' context. 

The Importance of Undertones

A color is divided into two main parts: masstone, the most prominent visible color (and probably your reason for choosing it!) and its undertone, the understated pigments combined to make the masstone. When choosing your prominent color, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the undertones, but those subtle color shades can make a significant difference when combining with other exterior color elements; if the shade of one color clashes with the undertone of the other, it will create an unbalanced look within the space. Placing and moving your swatch around a color wheel will help to reveal its undertones; placing it near its complement or a similar shade will make the undertones more prominent within the swatch. Neutrals are the most difficult to pinpoint an undertone because they tend to be so muted, but using the color wheel can be useful in bringing that muted hue to the surface. 


A color wheel with neutral roof and siding swatches around it to show even neutrals have color.

Finding Balance in Undertones

With undertones, two colors that might look similar to the naked eye, can appear completely different when placed next to a contrasting swatch. Or if two different siding colors are paired with the same roofing, the undertones of the roofing are going to pop according to the color of the siding. Placing multiples swatches around the dominant color will allow you to find the contrasts that make the most ideal combinations. 

With these two example swatches, the left is a bolder choice because of the blue undertones of Flagstone with the orange undertones of Max Def Burnt Sienna. On the right, the pairing is more subdued and harmonious with the combination of brown tones.

Color Harmonies


A monochromatic color scheme is created by taking a single color and choosing between the different shades and hues to find its complements. The choice of your base color is key because from there, you can build out your scheme using a detailed color wheel. Focusing on different saturations and tones with the base color allows you to play around with various exterior shades: warm, cool, light or dark. 

Monochromatic Color Wheel next to house with Blue Siding

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An analogous color scheme makes the work easy; the colors are sitting directly next to one another on the wheel (blue, blue-green, green). To create your analogous exterior, choose the base color, then a second to support it, and a third as the accent. We already know that these shades match well together to create a natural flow of color, but the trick is to make each one stand out. There must be enough simple contrast between each color to slightly break up that flow. You can do this by placing the accent colors in distinguishing areas of the homes' exterior.

Color wheel, Grey scale, and House with tan siding

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Encore Double 5" Clapboard in Desert Tan

Vinyl Carpentry and Restoration Millwork Trim


A complementary color scheme uses opposite colors on the color wheel to create maximum contrast, red and green for example. This is a bolder choice for your home's exterior due to the contrasting color combination, but when done right it can give the home a definite statement look. The complementary scheme can be split between two, or even three, color choices, the latter which allows one color to stand out and the other two to complement. To create this triangular scheme, take the two colors adjacent to the base color's complement. 


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Color Temperatures

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