When choosing an exterior paint color for your house, one of the most popular options is white. But not all whites are created equal. The right white paint color can enhance your home’s architecture, make it look bright and welcoming, and even seem larger. The wrong white can look dull, dirty or dated. With so many options for white house paint colors, how do you choose the best one?
Different Types of White Exterior Paint
There are a few main categories of white exterior house paint:
- Bright White – These crisp, clean whites like gloss white reflect the most light. They can make a home look fresh and modern.
- Soft White – Softer whites like Swiss coffee or ivory have subtle cream or grey undertones. They have more warmth.
- Antique White – Paint colors like linen or antique white have brown, yellow or taupe undertones for a historical look.
- Stark White – Stark whites like white dove are brilliant whites without undertones. They are bold and striking.
Within each category there are many specific white paint colors to choose from. Going a shade darker or warmer can make a big difference, so it’s worth taking some time to find the right white for your particular home’s style and setting.
Factors to Consider
Here are some things to think about when selecting the best white exterior paint color:
A building’s architectural style should help guide your paint color choice. For example, Colonial style homes often look best in soft antique whites like Swiss coffee or linen white. Mediterranean style buildings come alive with stark whites like white dove. Contemporary designs shine with bright white paint.
Location and Lighting
The direction your home faces and how much sunlight it gets will affect how white paint colors look. North-facing facades in cool climates may benefit from warmer antique white paint colors so they don’t look too cold. Bright southern exposures can handle crisp white paint colors without appearing glaring.
Greenery like trees, shrubs and grass provides nice contrast against white exteriors. But if your yard lacks plants, an antique white house paint color with more depth can complement the barer landscape better than a flat white.
Rougher exterior surfaces like brick and stucco tend to look best in bold, stark whites rather than softer shades. The texture provides enough visual interest on its own. But relatively flat surfaces like vinyl and wood siding benefit from softer white paint with more depth and character.
Existing Trim and Accents
Check how potential white house colors will look next to any existing black shutters or brown trim. You generally want enough contrast between the field color and accents for both to stand out. But if your trim and accents are white or off-white, select a matching white paint for a cohesive look.
Gutters and Downspouts
Even something as mundane as gutters should help inform your white paint choice. For example, oil-rubbed bronze gutters pair better with warm antique whites than stark brights. Make sure your white exterior paint complements rather than clashes with accompanying metals.
Best White Paint Colors by Style
While personal taste plays a big role, here are some popular white paint colors that complement specific house styles:
|House Style||Best White Paint Colors|
|Colonial||Swiss Coffee, Linen White, Accessible Beige|
|Farmhouse||Cotton White, Navajo White, Extra White|
|Mediterranean||White Dove, Ivory Lace, Decorators White|
|Modern||Gloss White, Polished White, Pure White|
|Victorian||Snowbound, Oxford White, White Heron|
The soft off-whites like Swiss coffee, linen white and accessible beige work beautifully on traditional Colonial homes. Their slight creaminess provides enough depth and dimension to handle ornate details without overpowering them. The warm beige undertones tie in well with classic black shutters too.
Vintage farmhouse designs look light and airy coated in whites like cotton white, Navajo white and extra white. These crisp, clean whites evoke feelings of fresh milk and new linens. Their bright white bases complement both warm wood tones as well as the black and grey present in many farmhouse color schemes.
The brilliance of whites like white dove, ivory lace and decorators white plays beautifully against Mediterranean style homes with their tan, terracotta and brick details. The stark whites pop those deep, earthy tones while matching the light-reflecting stucco walls. Their cool tones also help lighten heavy stone elements.
Super sleek modern architecture benefits from lacquer-like whites such as gloss white, polished white and pure white. Their high-gloss finish and absence of undertones enhance the crisp lines and dramatic planes. The reflective surface also highlights interesting architectural shapes and recesses.
Victorian architecture commonly features colors in the pastel family, so white exterior paint should follow suit. Snowbound, Oxford white and white heron have a softness reminiscent of whitewashed cottages. Their gentle tones ensure colorful Victorian ornamentation really sparkles.
How Lighting Affects White Paint
It’s important to remember that lighting conditions change the look of any white paint color. Natural and artificial lighting bring out different undertones in white paints throughout the day and night. Here’s how lighting impacts white house paint colors:
- Morning light – Daybreak casts a warm glow and makes all whites look creamier. Soft antique whites will blend right in while stark whites will get a warm boost.
- Midday light – The bright white light at noon washes out paint colors so whites look their truest during these peak daytime hours.
- Afternoon light – As the sun gets lower in the sky in the afternoon, shadows appear and whites take on a warmer, yellower tone.
- Twilight – At sunset when light levels drop quickly, all whites go darker and tend to look dirty or dingy in the dim conditions.
- Night lighting – Under typical yellow outdoor lighting, white paints develop a creamy aesthetic at night. Stark whites and brighter paints maintain their vibrancy best in low light.
As you’re selecting white paint colors, imagine how the shade will look under your home’s specific lighting conditions. Outdoor lights can also impact appearance. Cool LEDs enhance bright whites while sodium vapor lights impart an unflattering yellow/greenish cast.
Best White Paint Brands
In addition to choosing the right shade of white, it’s important to select a top quality exterior paint brand engineered to withstand weathering. Here are some of the best exterior paints for a pristine white finish:
|Brand||Top White Paint Colors|
|Behr||White Metal, Cultured Pearl|
|Benjamin Moore||Chantilly Lace, Super White|
|Sherwin-Williams||Pure White, Extra White|
|Valspar||Swiss Coffee, Simply White|
You can’t go wrong choosing a top quality exterior white paint from Behr, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams or Valspar. They offer extensive white color selections perfect for any style home in any setting.
Behr makes highly reflective whites like White Metal and Cultured Pearl that hold up impressively in harsh exterior conditions. Their Marquee paint line delivers exceptional hide and protection.
Benjamin Moore is known for gorgeous off-whites like Chantilly Lace and Super White that coat exterior siding beautifully. Their Aura line has outstanding flow and durability.
For an exterior that shines, Sherwin-Williams makes long-lasting whites like Pure White and Extra White. Their Emerald Urethane paint provides unparalleled adhesion and resistance to chipping/peeling.
Valspar’s highly-rated exterior paints include creamy antique whites like Swiss Coffee and clean modern whites like Simply White. Their Reserve line delivers remarkable weather resistance.
How Much White Paint is Needed?
Don’t underestimate how much white paint you’ll need for the exterior of a whole house. Use this formula to estimate the number of gallons required:
- Measure the total square footage of your home’s exterior walls.
- Divide that number by 350. This estimates the coverage of one gallon.
- Round up to the nearest whole gallon.
- Add 1-2 extra gallons to be safe.
So for a 2,000 square foot exterior, you’d need approximately 6-8 gallons of white house paint. It’s always better to have leftover paint than run out halfway through the job.
Paint Sheen Recommendations
Finish and sheen also impact how white exterior paint looks. Here are some recommendations:
- Flat – Provides excellent hide and a matte look on masonry or blistered surfaces. Avoid on siding.
- Satin – Ideal balance of durability and subtle sheen for most exteriors.
- Semi-Gloss – Very tough glossy finish good for trim, doors and high-traffic areas.
- Gloss – Ultra shiny enamel-like finish great for high abuse spots like railings and eaves.
Satin is suitable for many white exteriors because it resists weathering and provides some pleasing luster. Semi-gloss is even more durable for windows, railings and doors that get a lot of wear. For a bright white metallic look, high gloss paint is striking.
Curb Appeal Benefits of White Exteriors
Beyond looking clean, fresh and classic, white exterior paint offers many curb appeal advantages:
- Reflects light – White paint bounces back sunlight to make homes appear larger and brighter.
- Expands small spaces – The eye tends to see white as increasing space, helping modest homes feel more substantial.
- Softens details – White unifies varied architectural elements into a cohesive whole.
- Provides contrast – White enhances and underscores trims, shutters, doors and other exterior features.
- Conveys welcome – There’s a reason light colors are called “open” and dark ones “closed” – white seems inviting.
- Makes landscaping pop – Vivid green grass and colorful flowers stand out beautifully against a white backdrop.
White paint is truly transformative when it comes to enhancing curb appeal. It makes design features shine, enlarges appearance, and presents a home as clean, open and welcoming.
Choosing that perfect shade of white paint for your home’s exterior isn’t always easy with so many options. But considering your home’s style, location and architecture along with your personal preference will guide you to the ideal color. Valspar Swiss Coffee creates a warm antique look on traditional designs. Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace imparts refined elegance. And Behr White Metal gives modern homes a sleek sheen.
Whichever white you select, use a premium exterior paint for maximum weather resistance. A quality application will keep your white looking crisp and light for years. Just be ready to be wowed when that bright white finish transforms your home’s curb appeal!