Monday, April 29, 2013

How to go crazy choosing Gray as your house exterior color

Google "gray house exterior paint." I dare you. Your mind will be overwhelmed with options.

My husband and I knew pretty much right away that we wanted to paint the house gray. Well, actually, we didn't want to have to paint the house, but when it became apparent that the house had some wood rot areas bigger than we he needed to tackle, an expert became our only option. And at that point, painting the whole house was the most practice thing to do. My husband said, "why don't we just leave it the same color." I politely declined that one because I never did like the drab brown exterior. "But you just posted about painting your master bedroom brown!" Oh. I know, and gray was my first choice there too (okay, actually I wanted lavender, green, and gray, but that was never gonna happen). The main colors inside our home are versions of brown or taupe, and so a brown master just made sense....and it looks pretty awesome. But for the exterior, we would have a blank canvas, so to speak. Once the original color was nixed, gray was up!

Painting the exterior of your home is, quite frankly, the opposite of easy. You can't just pick "gray." You've got blue grays, green grays, brown grays, gold/yellow grays, black grays, pale grays, neutral grays, purple grays, and finally, after much searching, gray grays.

If you want a gray gray house, you have found the right blog.

We searched high and low, and slopped SIX samples on the side and front of our house. That's after heavy deliberation online to keep from buying 25 $7 samples at Sherwin Williams. We also drove around many neighborhoods.

The later selection method was helpful, but mostly in deciding what we did NOT want. Which was a blue gray house. There are so many sadly disgusting gray houses out there because the color turned out to pull toward the yucky blue side of gray. I certainly hope it was a mistake, because if it wasn't, those homeowners have horrible taste. Then there's the green gray, that I actually kinda like, but we decided was less appealing to a future-buyer. I love purple gray, but again, that was never going to fly by my husband. Brown gray was a maybe-possibility, but it was too similar to our neighbor's color and also too similar to our old color (which I wanted to get away from drastically).

So what do you need to know??

Look at the actual composition of the paint formula that you are interested in. Sherwin Williams (and I'm sure other brands too) will list the make-up of the paint on their website, app (I utilized this a LOT and it's free), or in store if you ask them. If you want gray gray, avoid colors that list too much of any one RGB color. Our final decision has 121 R, 122 G, 121 B. Because those numbers are so similar (with negligible more green), our final outcome is definitely gray gray.

Another thing you'll want to do is compare the colors you are deciding between. Looking at 6 grays next to each other really shows you which direction a non-gray gray will pull. We thought we liked one gray, until we saw how green-gray it looked next to a true gray-gray.

Here are our samples.

Above, L-R; Ellie Gray 7650 (nixed automatically for being too light), Night Owl 7061, Gauntlet Gray 7019 painted over Special Gray 6277 (special gray 6277 below, plain, nixed automatically by my husband for being too purple even though the swatch didn't look that way at all), Grizzle Gray 7068, Gauntlet Gray 7019, Westchester Gray 2849 (with Grizzle below)
Grizzle Gray, Gauntlet Gray, Westchester Gray
same colors as above, different lighting

 Westchester Gray on top, Gauntlet Gray middle left, Night Owl middle right, Grizzle Gray on bottom

close up/different lighting of same colors above

As you can tell, different colors show differently in different light, so it is ultimately your job to look at your colors in varying lights and times of day.
We loved Night Owl, until we put it on the house and saw it in the bright mid day light. Too green.
night owl
We ultimately decided on Westchester Gray. Ironically, there is not a swatch of this you can go grab at Sherwin Williams. We discovered the color online, in the color visualizer program on Sherwin Williams website. When we went into the store to look at it in person, they said it had been discontinued. Insert panic face here. Luckily, though, that doesn't mean they can't make it, it just means they don't produce swatches. They had a tiny swatch on a color fan that we couldn't take out of the store...and that was good enough for us to know we wanted a sample (luckily we got some of our samples during the 40% off sale, so this one was only $4, not $7). I pretty much knew as soon as I saw it that it was the one. It was a long, tedious process of choosing from a million shades of gray, but we picked Westchester Gray SW2849 and it is currently drying on the outside of our home as I type this. I'll post final comparison shots later this week. Choosing the trim color was easy, we just went with the suggested coordinating color of Rhinestone 7656. Our front door is already a version of red, so we'll continue to have that since it looks awesome together.

ps. I just stepped outside to look it over, since they are done now...anddddddd ILOVEIT. if you want a dark gray-gray house. I highly recommend looking into Westchester Gray SW 2849


  1. In searching for gray house colors, I saw the picture of your house with sample grays on it and thought a neighbor must have posted a picture of my house! It has various shades of gray on one side and the old color is identical. I think we are going gauntlet gray, hope we make the right decision!

  2. We are painting our house as I type! (well, the paint crew is doing the work). We have an arts and crafts bungalow and decided to go with Grizzle gray and cotton white for the trim. Our neighbor 5 houses in has grizzle gray with a cream trim with red accents on shutters, door, etc and we love the look of it! I never knew there were so many varieties of gray!! Good luck with your project!

  3. So funny I found you! Here I am, testing an assortment of grays on our house, and while I've been googling "gray houses with white trim", I've never googled "Westchester Gray houses", the color I've been playing with on the SW app for years, until today. Your house looks beautiful, and I am so happy you posted it for all to see! My houses are always gray with white trim, or were until we bought this house, which was newly painted a ghastly Harvest Gold (as was much of the interior). We have spent many years painting away the Harvest Gold, Brick Red, and Slime Green on the inside, and now we can finally have the exterior done! I'm probably sticking with the matte black front door, the one thing I like about our exterior, although I do have visions of a deep purple. But the house is to be used as a backdrop for the dark pink and plum roses and bright white Calla Lilies in the flowerbeds, so I suppose I don't want to draw attention away from them. But purple would be ever so much fun! BTW~ There is a sample chip of Westchester Gray now, but for years, you could only find it in SW's Historical Paint Color folder. Not that I've been shopping for exterior paint ever since the day we bought this house. :) Congrats on the beautiful house! I hope the paint is holding up- if not, let me know!

  4. Find House Painters in Brisbane, Gold Coast. Shine Painting offers Interior Exterior Painting.

  5. This is an old blog posting which I have just found. You've described my dilemma to a "T"! I would love to see a finished picture of the Westchester Gray!

  6. I, too, just found your blog and, yes, describes our dilemma as well. I would love to see a photo.

  7. Ahhh, helps to look in the archives....looks great!

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