How to Choose the Best Stucco Color for Your Home

bold-stucco-colorIt’s all about curb appeal — whether you’re adding stucco to your home’s exterior or changing the color of old stucco, the color you choose can affect your home’s curb appeal. Much like picking a stucco texture, choosing the right stucco color for your home can be a little overwhelming. If you’re worried about picking the wrong stucco color for your house or are having trouble visualizing how your home will look with the color scheme you’re considering, then this article is here to help you.

Whatever the reasons are for your own indecision, the good news is there are things you can do to make selecting a stucco color a lot easier.

Getting Started

When choosing the best stucco color for your home or building, it is probably a good idea to first purchase some samples and do a comparison board. Sure, this may seem like overkill, but wouldn’t you rather find out that hot pink color you fell in love with isn’t going to look so good on your home before your stucco contractor installs 2,000 square feet of it?

Ideally, you should use the same material for your sample board that will actually be on the exterior of the house, because the color will often vary a bit depending on what it is being applied to. Once you have your sample board, take it to the building site and figure out which stucco color looks best against that particular environmental backdrop.

Another thing you can do with color samples is to blend colors together to create more dramatic or softer tones. For example, if the original shade seems too vivid, you can often tone it down by adding gray or tan. To lighten colors, you can usually add white or ivory. If you come up with a stucco color on your own, you should take a sample of the color to a building supply center or paint store to see if it can be matched. 

Stucco base coats are usually a cement-based, plaster-like compound that goes on the outside of your home. Whether you’re using a “one-coat” (which usually is actually a two-coat) or a three-coat stucco system, the final coat is called the finish coat. The finish coat can be cement or acrylic based (I recommend acrylic because of its flexibility). You can purchase a stucco finish coat that already has the color mixed in it, or you can pick a color and paint it later (I recommend getting it pre-mixed for a more uniform look).

In addition to being “tinted”, the finish coat also helps to determine the texture of your stucco, based on the amount of aggregates in the mixture. I recommend Omega Products’ Akroflex or similar finish coats – they are 100% acrylic based finishes that use the latest Dirt Pick-up Resistance (DPR) technology, and they can produce a variety of textures depending on the aggregate size and application method. I recommend them because they provide a flexible, durable, integrally colored finish.

Location, Location, Location

You ever hear the phrase, “location, location, location” when it comes to real estate? Well, the location of your home is often important when determining the best choice of exterior stucco color, as well.

Here in the 4 Corners area, we have a wide variety of climates and settings – from high desert to mountain forest. For homes that are in a wooded or forested setting, a varied selection of colors will look nice. You can choose a color that blends in with the environment, for example, such as grays or greens, or you could go for colors that contrast. Whites and ivories often suit almost any backdrop, and in wooded locations, those colors would typically work well if the home design has a “cottage” feel.

The adobe look is usually popular in drier climates and desert settings, such as the Southwestern United States and here in the drier parts of the 4 Corners area, and for that look, many people prefer to go with earth tones, such as peach, rust, and sandstone beige.

Choosing stucco colors based on home design

In general, choosing the best stucco color for your home’s exterior should usually depend on the design of your home and the environment surrounding it. Stucco can be used as an exterior covering for most any style of house, but it is most often used to create a European cottage look or on Mediterranean or Spanish style homes. White, ivory, or pale tones such as light gray, tan, or peach are stucco colors that are often chosen for use with these home designs. For the Southwestern adobe look, many homeowners choose rust or peach tones.

10 Rules of Thumb When Choosing Stucco Colors

Of course, rules are meant to be broken – especially when it comes to artistic and creative endeavors (just ask Picasso). However, these are some great things to keep in mind when picking your stucco color.

  1. Choose colors outside: This may seem like a simple suggestion, but your home’s exterior will be viewed in natural light — not the yellowish tone emitted by incandescent light bulbs. Not only that, but colors can also be influenced by the neutral beige of your walls, your brown carpet and the creamy trim. Sunlight is different. Go outside when viewing your stucco color choices.
  2. Get inspired by other stucco homes: Drive around and observe what catches your eye. Light colors of dark tones? Cool or warm? Do you like subtle contrasts or dramatic ones? In exploring what you like, you will also be able to determine what you don’t like.
  3. Subtle Colors: Strong color choices on stucco can be overwhelming and can hurt you when it comes time to sell your home. You can go subtle and be quite pleased with the results – the textured nature of the stucco tends to make subtle undertones of the color you choose to stand out in different kinds of light. For example, just a hint of gold in a brown or rose paint can make your house glow golden at sunset. Also, just a hint of blue in a white paint can make the whole house feel blue under the right light.
  4. Neutral Colors: For a traditional, safer look, go neutral with your stucco color. Neutral colors are popular choices for stucco houses because they allow landscaping and trim colors to visually pop. Don’t think of neutrals as just variations on boring tan and beige, instead explore all the options available. If you want a bright blue door, fire-engine red window trim, or lots of window boxes filled with colorful flowers, your neutral stucco color can help set them off and draw the attention just where you want it to be.
  5. Earth Tones: For a more natural look, pick an earth tone for your stucco color. Choose a desert tan shade if you live in a desert area of the 4 Corners, or go with an olive green or evergreen type shade if your home is surrounded by trees or you live someplace cooler and higher in elevation. If you choose a brighter earth tone or more vivid shade, stick with neutral trim or a trim color within the same color family to tone down the bolder look.
  6. Colors that blend with other architectural elements: One of the most crucial things to do when choosing paint colors for a stucco exterior is to consider the colors of the already existing architectural elements of the house, especially the roof. If your roof is gray, consider yellow, blue, or a contrasting shade of gray. If your roof is brown or made of tile, choose colors from a warmer palette, such as cream, brown, or an orange-red. Obviously, this is good advice if you have an existing home, but it also applies if you’re building your home from scratch – pick some architectural elements and choose your stucco accordingly.
  7. Follow the rule of 3: (I love this rule because 3 is my favorite number!) Unless you are going for a white home look, using no more than 3 colors and no less than 2 works very well. Stucco body, stucco banding, and trim (soffits, fascia, door trim, garage doors etc.) allow for a nice contrast.
  8. Keep it in the family: When choosing colors that are close in hue, pick them from the same color family. Once you have the main body color, go one or two shades lighter or darker for the banding. You can veer off this rule if you are using an accent color that is extremely dark, or extremely light.
  9. Keep your roof in mind: Is your roof a black or dark tone? A black shingle won’t pull out any particular color from your exterior, but will give the home a slightly darker feel – maybe your stucco color should help lighten your home in this case. On the other hand, weathered wood shingles tend to pull cooler tones out of the paint.
  10. Want something that looks “Old-Worldly”? Try antiquing. Almost like a faux effect, a “glaze” color is added on top of a base coat. This gives a spongy and deeper effect on the color. Be prepared to spend some additional money, though — it’s practically like painting the home twice. Omega Products has a product called, “AkroTique”, which is a pigmented acrylic sealer designed to create a rustic, mottled finish similar to the timeless beauty of century-old plaster. (Come on by the ProBuild on County Road M and Highway 145 to see some examples. Ask for Derek.)

Getting creative with your color choices

If you live in a cooler part of the country, you can paint your stucco an unusual stucco color, like sky blue, or make your home truly stand out by matching the stucco color of your home with another object you have in a color you love. (Again, I highly recommend you get a large sample before you stucco your entire house in banana yellow or some other unusual color you may love in small doses.)

Think about the stucco texture you chose

My last thought I’ll leave you with is this – don’t overdo it. Did you choose an amazing decorative stucco texture for your home, something like a trowel sweep finish? Well, that texture is going to look great without painting it lime green – let the texture speak for itself. The texture will create some visual interest in the shadows it creates and adding a bold, vivid color like tangerine orange may be overkill. On the other hand, that tangerine orange color may need some texture to give it some depth. In any case, it’s probably a good idea to create a nice, big sample if you’re thinking about going so bold.

Choosing the right stucco color for your home’s exterior makes a big difference in the look and feel of your home. Like I said, it’s all about curb appeal! Remember, though, even if you opt for pre-colored or “tinted” stucco, it’s still only paint. If you want to make a change, you can always repaint over your stucco. Of course, if you take care when selecting your colors, you should be satisfied with the results the first go round.

Article was written by Derek Alvarez 

The views and opinions expressed are those of Derek Alvarez alone and do not necessarily represent the views of Modern Wall Systems.