Colour for Exteriors: and impact of cosmic forces

This will show you a whole range of different exterior colour schemes in action. But, as with interior colours, there is no point in choosing colours you don’t like, even if all the theory in the world says they are right for your house. You probably won’t feel comfortable with the results.

Traditional Style : If you have a house of a particular architectural style, a look at the traditional colours in which it would have been painted is a good way to start planning your scheme. You’ll find a more detailed article about traditional colours in the Period Styles section.
The Orientation of the House : The principles behind the effect of orientation on colour are similar for exterior and interior colour selection. Think about where you will spend most of your time. Warm, earthy colours and white can make a shady south  facing courtyard or rear garden feel more comfortable. In the same way, drenching a warm west facing area with cool blues and greens can help it seem more inviting on a hot summer’s day.
Try a few shades darker than your first thoughts, to really bring out the effect of the colours. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make!

Size and Shape : Colours can change the apparent size of the exterior of a house too. Dark colours will make your house look smaller, while light colours will tend to make it appear bigger.

Every Detail Counts : ‘Details’ and `trim’ are terms used to describe decorative or functional exterior features too. As with interior details, you have a choice   they can be picked out and emphasised or smoothed over and hidden.
Because exteriors are larger than interior rooms and there tend to be more details, you can have more trim colours. Four or five is not unusual and can be fun to plan and even paint!

Colour Words

  •   Hue is what we normally mean by `colour’. Red is a hue.
  •   Tone is the degree of lightness or darkness of a hue.
  •   Chroma or brightness is the strength or purity of a colour or hue.
  •   Tints are hues to which white has been added. Pink is a tint of red.
  •   Neutrals are white, black and grey. They are not called colours.


Before choosing your paint, make sure you’ve read the Which Paint Where section. It will help you choose the right paint and undercoat for the job, so you’ll get the results you want and the quality your efforts deserve.
General painting techniques are covered in detail in the Painting Techniques section. Please read this section carefully. It will save you time and help you achieve a professional finish. Don’t forget to read the labels on the paint too   the information is there to help you.

At last! Everything’s ready to go, but before we get to the exciting part with the top coat, let’s check the undercoat situation.

Prepcoats : Areas that will need to be primed, and/or sealed, include new plasterboard and hard plaster, bare timber and any significant areas of patching or filling. If you haven’t already done so during preparation, now is the time to take down curtains, mirrors and pictures. Try to remove as many of the fixtures and fittings as possible.
Move lightweight furniture out of the room, or to the centre of the room. Cover all furniture with plastic sheets or drop cloths (a layer or two of newspaper put down first will give added protection) and tape plastic bags around pendant light fittings. Use masking tape to cover any hardware you can’t remove and open doors and windows for ventilation.


Your painting will be faster and cleaner if you spend some time masking first. Always remember to remove masking tape and materials as soon as the paint is too dry to run. Removal later often lifts and breaks the dry paint leaving a cracked and jagged edge. Use wide masking tape or masking papers for protection around architraves and woodwork. Window glass can be similarly masked for fast hassle free painting, or you can use a sash cutter paint brush and a steady hand   see Tools of the Trade for brush information.

Painting Order

The easiest way to paint, as a general rule, is to start at the top and work down.
In practice this means beginning with the ceiling. Always paint away from the light source so you are not painting in a shadow. Next paint the walls. Right handed painters will find it easier to start near the upper left corner, left handed painters near the upper right corner. Now paint the doors and windows, followed by the skirting and trim. You’ll find a detailed explanation of painting techniques, clean up hints and the painting order of doors and window components the
Painting Techniques section.

When To Paint

External temperatures affect the internal temperature of your house which, in turn, affects the performance of the paint. The wall temperature must be above 100C throughout the painting and drying process.
Internal heating and cooling does not compensate for extreme cold or heat outside. A thick plaster wall, for example, can still be significantly warmer or cooler than the room’s air temperature.

The Next Coat

Check the paint can for recoating times. These will depend on temperature and humidity and the type of paint you have chosen. If you’re not sure if the first coat is dry enough, test a small patch in an inconspicuous area (eg behind a door) with fine sandpaper. If the paint powders easily it’s dry enough to recoat.

Drying Times

  • Touch Dry   Dry enough to move your furniture back
  •   Recoat Time   Dry enough to apply the next coat
  •   Fully Dried   Completely dry. Most paints do not reach their optimum performance and hardness for at least 7 days.

The Reward

When you’ve finished you’ll have the rewarding experience of stepping back and admiring your handiwork. Please don’t rush into it, or try to cut corners. Doing the job properly doesn’t take much more time at all and the results are guaranteed to be better.

Sanding Tips

  • Everyone develops their own sanding technique, but here are a couple of useful tips.
  •  Always use a cork or similar sanding block when sanding flat surfaces, otherwise the sandpaper will cut unevenly, give you an uneven finish and wear out more quickly by developing smooth spots.
  • Wet & Dry sandpapers can clog easily. Keep the paper clean by dipping it and the block in a bowl of water, or trickle water from a damp cloth or sponge onto the surface while you are sanding.
  •   When using a fine sandpaper on an orbital sander, folding the sheet over will help stop it tearing and fraying. Simply refold the sheet to use the other surfaces.

Maddar than ever

Reds, blues, yellows, blacks … there is no limit to the colours of Nature. And their popularity is growing.
The term `vegetable’ dyes is a misnomer, in that these colours are not obtained from vegetables. They are actually extracted from the roots, stems, leaves, flowers and bark of trees. For instance, indigo comes from the leaves of the Indigo plant and maddar red is extracted from the roots of the Maddar plant.

Vegetable dyes have been used to colour textiles from centuries. There is a mention in the Upanishads about the wearing of saffron coloured cotton thread by Brahmins, hundreds of years ago. There is no doubt that prior to the advent of synthetic dyes, vegetable dyes were most widely used; a little later came mineral colours, obtained from metallic salts. Colouring matter from sea shells and insects was also used, but to a negligible extent.

The discovery of the first man made dyestuff `mauve’ by Perkin in 1857   was followed by thousands of synthetic colourants formulated by British and German chemists. These fast replaced the more expensive and difficult to use vegetable and mineral days. The manufacture of synthetic indigo around 1904 caused Indian production to crash, to the extent  that within one year it was almost wiped out.

Man made dyes were superior to vegetable dyes in all respects : They could be produced in large quantities at any time with reliable composition; they covered the entire range of the spectrum from yellow, to black; their method of application was easy and  fast; the colours were more durable than every before. In addition, no vegetable dye could colour  synthetic fabrics   none is yet available. But vegetable dyes are not just eco friendly, they also soften and get mellow with age and repeated washing.

In spite of their draw backs, there is a craze for the use of vegetable dyes. In `Kalamkari.’ for instance, natural colourants are invariably used by craftsmen in Machalipatanam, Bagru, Sanganer, Kalahasti, Palanpur and Faizabad. Silks dyed with vegetable colours are now popular export products. The Weavers  Service Centre in Bangalore is helping exporters of silk fabrics in the production of required shades with vegetable dyes. The most commonly used colours are yellow, red, brown, blue, green and black.

A yellow colour is obtained by gently boiling myrablan flowers in water and or by dissolving turmeric in water. green is obtained by topping yellow with blue, perhaps from indigo. Brown is produced by dissolving Cutch (kattha) in water. For shades of black, Logwood extracts are extensively used. The black so obtained is still the standard colourant for silk, making the fibres opaque and producing a rich, deep colour.

The colourants are used extensively in various ways, each reneweing the deep rooted influence of nature on everyday life.

© 2012, AIDEC World. All rights reserved.

2 comments on “Colour for Exteriors: and impact of cosmic forces
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