3 Black & White Exterior Paint Color Mistakes to Avoid

May 25, 2024
Black and White Exterior Paint Color with Wood Accents

Exterior painting is a very expensive home project, especially if you don’t plan to DIY. When I painted the exterior of my home, I got quotes beforehand from professionals for $6–7K, and that was on the bargain end of the spectrum. So it’s important that you are extremely confident in your color choices before you put brush to siding, or before you pay someone thousands to do the same.

Here are my recommendations for what NOT to do when painting your home in black and white. If you avoid these mistakes, you should end up with a home that looks cozy and timeless, rather than one that looks trendy and tired.

Mistake #1: Picking a stark white

Stark Black and White Exterior Paint Color

A home with bright white siding and jet black accents

Too often, I see people paint their newly white home in the brightest white shade they can find. I understand that bright whites look “clean” and “fresh”, but on the exterior of a home in full daylight, it’s blinding. Not only that, but in my opinion, it looks stark and uninviting. If you have a very modern home, maybe that’s the look you’re going for. But for most homes that want that warm, cozy, “homey” feel, a stark white exterior is not the answer.

Instead, test out a few off-white colors. I promise they will still look white in both daylight and shade, but they’ll feel softer, warmer, and more welcoming. My personal favorite off-white paint color is Benjamin Moore White Dove, which I used on my home’s trim. It has a neutral undertone that doesn’t lean pink or yellow and also looks beautiful for interiors. A few other personal favorites include Sherwin-Williams Shoji White, Sherwin-Williams Alabaster, and BEHR Swiss Coffee.

Mistake #2: Picking a jet black

Soft Black and White Exterior Paint Color

A home with off-white siding and soft black accents

This may be a more controversial opinion, especially for lovers of Sherwin-Williams Tricorn Black, but I’m not a fan of jet black exterior colors. If you look at matte black lanterns or hardware or other black powder-coated items that may be on the exterior of your home, you’ll notice that they often aren’t that pitch black shade. They’re a softer black, and that is also what I prefer for paint colors.

It’s the same kind of concept as picking out an eyeliner shade for a very pale face (your white house). What happens if you put jet black eyeliner on that face? It looks a little shocking. And maybe that’s the effect you want, in which case, go for it! But what if you used a dark charcoal instead, or even a brown-black? It might look a little more natural, a little softer.

My personal favorite black shade is Benjamin Moore Black Panther, which I also used as the accent color on my home. I love that it doesn’t lean blue, like many other black paints I’ve tried, and it’s not so light that it looks charcoal. It just looks like soft black, very similar to matte black hardware. If you’re open to lighter, warmer tones, I also love Sherwin-Williams Urbane Bronze, which I used on my living room walls.

Mistake #3: Not incorporating natural tones

Black and White Exterior Paint Color with Wood Accents

A black and white home with multiple warm wood accents

This post may include affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click on the link and/or purchase from that site. I use that money to keep this blog running. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

There’s nothing wrong with being obsessed with neutrals, but remember that brown is a neutral, too! And if you’re using starker colors like black and white—even if you’ve chosen softer shades—it’s nice to balance them out with some natural wood tones. Whether it’s on your porch floor, copper sconces around the door, or wood window box planters, adding warm browns and coppers as your accent color can bring so much life and interest to a black and white exterior.

Even Chip and Joanna Gaines, the originators of the modern farmhouse trend, use warm tones on their home’s exterior. In fact, it looks like they’ve bypassed black accents out there altogether and embraced natural warm tones.

I hope this guide was helpful to you in your exterior paint journey! If you’re open to color as well, you may want to check out My Top 5 Green Exterior Paint Colors by Benjamin Moore. And if you’re painting wood siding, be sure to review How to Paint Old Peeling Wood Siding. Happy painting!

Leave a Reply