When it comes to exteriors, black is back

Kate Silver

Luxury New England House, Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Blue sky.For your residential customers considering a bold move on their exterior, there’s one trending color they may not have been considering: black

Black is making a splash in outdoor surfaces, says Dee Schlotter, senior color marketing manager with PPG Paints. In fact, PPG just named Black Flame—black imbued with undertones of indigo—its color of the year for 2018.

“Black represents a need for us to have space in between things,” says Schlotter. It’s a color that reflects what society needs right now, expressing the desire for privacy, solitude and silence, in a world where busyness and cell phone scrolling seems to fill every spare moment, she adds.

And it looks stunning on the body of, say, a Cape Cod; she saw one recently, with a bright-red door and medium-gray shutters.

“I’ve seen black used in very wooded areas, where it actually disappears—the exterior black paint can almost let nature take over,” Schlotter notes. “I’ve also seen black used in combination with exterior wood, and it’s beautiful.”

Still, using a color as dark as black can feel like a big, bold step, and professionals may need to do some coaxing when talking to customers. “When you mention black in regard to paint, people are a little nervous. They think ‘Oh my, I can’t do black,’” Schlotter says.

“Meanwhile it’s a neutral. We call it a ‘misunderstood neutral.’ When you look in your closet, I’m sure you have tons of black. It’s that staple that provides the perfect backdrop for anything.”

Schlotter says black also acts as a punctuation point to highlight architectural features of a home such as shutters, front doors and garage doors. She becomes cautious around the topic of trim, however. “If you go black on trim, it better be trim that you want to showcase because it’s going to be very noticeable,” she says. “It has to be the right setting.”

When talking with customers about exterior color selection, Schlotter says it’s important to consider vegetation around the home, the hues on the neighboring houses, and the size and style of the home itself before committing to black—or any other color. While she’s seen black work well in that Cape Cod and on a secluded beach house with a black body and black roof surrounded by trees in Montauk, NY, she says that on a two-story colonial with stark landscaping, it might be a bit extreme.

“If the black is going to be too overwhelming, I would say not to use it,” she says. “But in the right doses, in the right style and character, I think it could look great.”

To learn more about color and curb appeal—including colors other than black—read the feature article in the August/September issue of inPAINT magazine:

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