The Best Exterior Paint Colors, According to Designers and Architects

When it comes to creating palettes, exterior paint colors present a key choice for designers. After all, a project’s outer shell serves as its vital first impression, a statement in and of itself. AD PRO asked interior designers and architects to share the paint colors they tend to use over and over again for siding. As you’ll see, bold and statement-making exterior paint colors—and tried-and-true neutrals that pair perfectly with colorful accents—crop up repeatedly. Keep reading for their selections.

Nicole Hollis’s San Francisco home is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Black Tar.Photo: Douglas Friedman


Black Tar (2126-10) by Benjamin Moore. We’ve designed many modern farmhouses and understated, neutral homes, but I love an exterior color that makes a statement. I selected Black Tar for our San Francisco home to give the classic Italianate a bold, dramatic look. The dark exterior color also enhances and highlights the architectural detailing.

Peter Pennoyer, Peter Pennoyer Architects

My firm favors Fine Paints of Europe’s Eurolux Housepaint for the quality of the finish, durability, and environmental-friendliness. My favorite color is 0001 White, which gives exterior walls and woodwork crisp shadows but has a mellow depth that reflects changing light and weather. The subtle transformation from soft warm to crisp, cool off-white, as it reflects the seasons and environment, make it an ideal finish for country houses.


Matte black has an inherent luminosity that highlights details and form. The beauty of a matte black exterior is its neutrality and the ability to recede and disappear, but also highlight the surrounding colors, edges, and space.

I have used this color as a key secret ingredient both on historically infused projects and ultramodern and minimal ones. When working with solid wood, I use Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Ultra Flat Waterborne Solid Stain, Ultra Flat (610) in Black HC-190. When selecting a bold color to be the hero of a space or surface, it is important not to be shy and use the color with full conviction.

Christine Gachot, Gachot Studios

We have several homes right now that we are painting a very dark gray, such as Benjamin Moore’s Black Panther (2125-10), the inspiration for which is a Japanese burnt-cedar technique called shou sugi ban. The effect is to turn a home into a graphic shadow, playing in sharp contrast off of snow or playing more harmoniously with green nature in the warmer months. It’s a statement without being a statement, because it’s a cohesive design gesture but executed in a relatively neutral tone.