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How to choose trim color for a brick house

If you're picking colours for the trim on your brick home, you may be more concerned with how the colours look together than whether they enhance the brick. You have many options, and some of them may even follow the latest trends. A few basic guidelines will help you select the best paint colours to work with your home's exterior and keep you from making an expensive mistake.

Choose neutral colours for trim on blond or pale brick. Vibrant colours wash out blond and pale brickwork or make them look dingy. Use beige, taupe or creamy white to complement the pale yellow or peach hues of blond brick. Paint large areas such as siding or carport walls and roof, known as fields, in the lightest shade. Paint unattractive elements such as gutters the lightest shade, as well, to make them blend in and disappear. Apply a much darker shade of the same hue to the door and other architectural accents such as shutters.

Use shades of grey for trim on off-white brick, which often has grey mortar. Grays can be cool with blue undertones or warm with yellow undertones, such as dove grey, so weigh which type of grey looks better against your brick. Consider the darkest shade of grey or a deep red on the door for a distinctive entry. Avoid using white paint adjacent to the white brick, because it will make the brick look dirty.

Select classic colours for trim on solid red or terra cotta brick. Deep forest green with beige, black with white or charcoal grey with ivory give a red brick house a sophisticated look. Deep green with beige or navy blue with cream complement terra cotta brick. So do softer greens and blues. Red and terra cotta make green and blue look more intense, so choose the deepest or most muted shades for architectural features such as shutters and doors. Use light neutrals such as cream, ivory, white or light beige for field areas and unattractive features.

Be more creative in selecting trim colours for multicoloured bricks. Many bricks have a dominant colour easily seen from a distance, but when you look closer you can see traces of other colours. Pick up any of those colours for your trim. For example, a brick that looks like a neutral taupe may have a hint of plum. Consider plum, burgundy or a dark chocolate, which has a purple undertone. Rich colours such as these give a door and shutters personality. Remember that paint colours will appear brighter after drying. Avoid using several different hues, even though they may all be present in the brick. Select one or two colours as accents, and keep the rest of the paint colours light and neutral.

Tip

Examine the entire paint swatch card or paint fan page to see the undertones in the colour group. This will reveal whether the lightest white and the darkest shades have a yellow, green, blue, pink or purple undertone that you did not expect. Place colour swatches next to your brick to determine how the colours affect one another. If you are unsure of how many colours to use, restrict the number to two. You can always add an additional colour or shade later, after you live with your selections for a while. If you are pleased with the colour of your roof, and it looks good with your brick, try choosing tints and shades of that colour for your house trim.

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About the Author

Cynthia T. Toney, a former newspaper designer, began writing in 1999 for a newsletter devoted to decorating with salvage. As advertising and marketing director for an educational publisher, she wrote copy for its website, catalogs and mailings. Toney also has been an interior decorator and is the author of a teen novel, "Bird Face." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in art education.