Why Lighter Exterior Colors Last Longer

dramatic curb appealI relish the chance for a nice weekend spin around the Main Line in mid-May, the shrubs and flowers in full bloom, up against those stone houses with their dramatic darkly-painted doors and shutters.

But this vivid, stylish look comes with a price. Those dark trim colors require a lot of maintenance and frequent repainting. For exterior trim or walls, lighter colors simply last longer.

The science is fairly straightforward: Ultraviolet light causes color pigment to fade. Darker colors absorb more UV light, and thus fade faster. Darker colors also absorb more heat and moisture, so they’re more susceptible to damage from those culprits too. And tans, beige and other earthtones hold up better than deep pigments like reds, blues and greens.

So after a few years, those dark and vibrant exterior wall or trim colors that provide so much drama and “pop” at the outset will… well, not pop. Some people are sort of okay with that tradeoff, but don’t anticipate that after even just one tough summer, darker and deeper colors can fade enough to become nearly impossible to match for touch-ups.

Unless you’re prepared to repaint your dark exterior surfaces every few years, then, it’s probably wiser to go with lighter or earthtone colors. This is doubly true for those Southern exposure areas.

Another point in favor of lighter colors for exteriors: They can help make your home “greener,” as highlighted in our blog post about choosing paint colors for energy efficiency.

And of course, no color is going to stand up to the elements long unless the paint is of the best quality and the painters know what they’re doing!

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