Friday, June 1, 2012

Choosing A Front Door Color - A Baker's Dozen Mistakes to Avoid

If you're one of the many people who think of your front door as just another piece of trim, instead of a design element that deserves special consideration, think again. If you don't make a wise choice about what color to paint it, you'll not only waste a crucial opportunity to add style and impact, and you might even detract from the potential curb appeal of your house. There's a lot at stake.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when choosing a color for your front door:

#1-This Garage Door Has Won
  1. Letting the garage door "win".  In many houses, the garage door(s) and front door can be seen at the same time. If you call attention to the much larger garage door(s) by using the trim color, you've made it/them dominant and exaggerated your design and curb appeal problems. Think of it this way: Which is more important - the front door, which is the natural focal point and where you welcome people, or the garage door(s) where the cars live? The way to give your front door prominence and de-emphasize the garage is to paint the garage doors(s) in the wall color (assuming it can be done without voiding the warranty), causing them to recede into the background. Make your front door stand out by painting it a special color that appears nowhere else.
  2. Painting the front door in your favorite color, whether or not that's a good idea. I've seen a few bright pink front doors, and none did the house any favors.
  3. Using a color just because you liked it on someone else's house. What may be right for their house isn't necessarily right for yours. 
  4. Failing to consider your location. Colors that are attractive at the beach, probably won't work as well in the city or in the mountains. 
  5. Ignoring the architecture of your house. Many colors that suit the front door of a cabin aren't the best choices for a modern house or a Colonial. 
  6. Failing to coordinate all the paint colors with the colors in the permanent elements, such as the roof, stonework or vinyl windows. The permanent elements should be the starting point for creating your color plan. One of the most common problems I see is vinyl windows, especially pure white ones, that weren't considered when the wall and trim colors were chosen, and are so out of place and high contrast that they ruin the look of the house.  
  7. Ignoring the colors in your landscaping, especially the evergreens and flowering plants. Don't choose a bright red front door if your landscaping features pink and purple rhododendrons.
  8. Choosing a front door color that doesn't coordinate well with the wall and trim colors. Your color plan must be unified to be attractive, and if one of the elements doesn't work, the plan fails. See #9 for one example of this problem.
  9. Combining tint colors with shade colors (see my earlier post on  Mixing Tint Colors with Shade Colors). There are tint and shade versions of most hues, so, yes, you can still have a yellow front door. Just be sure you use the right yellow.
  10. Not considering the overall impression you want to create. Do you want elegance, drama, warmth, historic accuracy? The front door color is the one that sends the key message.
  11. Failing to paint the screen door or storm door in the same color as the front door (and choosing a design that conflicts with the front door, or hides its features). You haven't accomplished much if you buy a beautiful front door, paint it an attractive color and then undermine the look with the screen or storm door design and color.
  12. Outlining or accenting parts of the door. Use a single color to avoid a busy, chaotic look. 
  13. Making color decisions from a paint strip or small chip instead of a large sample. You won't know what a color really looks like if you work from a chip or a strip.

    # 11  - Over-accenting

#2-Someone's favorite color.

#7 - Tint and shade combination

Paint Sheen
The sheen of the paint you use is also important. The higher the sheen, the more intense the color becomes and the more every little flaw will show. High gloss paints are best reserved for new doors, or ones that are in perfect condition. If your front door is less than perfect, choose a low sheen enamel. Sheen names vary by manufacturer and product line, so talk with the experts at the paint store about the best choice for your door.

Paint Quality
Quality matters. The front door is the most important design element in the front of your house, so don't skimp. If you use cheap paint and don't take the time to prepare the door correctly by cleaning, patching, caulking, sanding and priming as needed, then applying at least two finish coats, the door won't look its best and it won't enhance the value of your house. Given the cost of many front doors, having it professionally painted it is a wise investment. 

Want a Beautiful Front Door? Call Us!
We're known for very high quality finish work. If you have a front door to paint or stain, including cosmetic repairs, or an entire house to paint for that matter, call me to schedule an estimate. If you choose us to do the work, a color consultation with me is a free part of our service.

You can reach me at 828-692-4355.

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