What Exterior Paint Color Fades The Least?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Painting the outside of your home is a crucial and sizable undertaking for any homeowner. The job is likely to leave you spent between all the exterior prepping, paint selection, and the labor of several coats it takes to do the job right.

It is completely understandable that you want to use the best paint and the right color for your home. Additionally, you want a result that not only looks great, but one that will stand the test of time.

The paint colors that fade the least are more neutral colors like tans, beige, brown, and shades of white. These, and other more light earth-toned colors tend to break down much slower in UV light and extreme weather than more vibrant pigments like red, blue, and yellow. Acrylic exterior paints help colors last longer than other types of exterior paint.

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Exterior Paint Colors That Last, and The Ones That Fade

As you browse through the endless paint swatches at your local hardware store you may find yourself overwhelmed. There are many different color directions you can go when it comes to painting your home’s exterior. Perhaps the most important thing to consider, however, is which colors will last the longest. Yes, some colors will hold up resiliently while others will deteriorate at a much quicker rate.

Paint colors are made up of different types of pigments. These pigments are what control a color and its resilience. As time passes, natural elements like UV light, oxygen, and even ozone continue to wear away at the pigments. This causes them to break down and fade. Let’s take a look at the color pigments that last the longest in the elements, and the ones that do not do well outdoors.

Longest-Lasting Colors

The longest-lasting paint tones are lighter tones like white, beige, tan, and lighter browns. It should now come as no surprise to you that as you drive down any given suburban street the majority of homes are painted lighter colors.

These colors and their pigments are much more stable than other colors. Lighter earth tones last longer due to their inorganic pigments and the way they interact with light and heat. These lighter earth tones do the best job reflecting UV light, rather than absorbing it. Using these lighter colors for your home helps for two reasons.

First, the paint lasts longer when UV light is reflected. When UV light is reflected, the paint pigments do not break down. The second benefit of these lighter colors is they keep the paint, and in turn the house, cool. These lighter pigments reflect the UV light, which not only helps the paint last longer, but also helps keep the surface of your house cool.

This helps keep your house at mild temperatures. It also prevents the exterior paint itself from overheating. Extremely high temperatures can cause the paint to deteriorate over time.

Fastest Fading Colors

Just as there are colors that last the longest and are best suited for your home’s exterior, there are also colors that should be avoided. The fastest fading colors tend to be the darkest and the most vibrant colors like black, red, and even yellow.

Darker colors will always absorb more light than lighter colors. This heat absorption is detrimental to the paint, as the pigments can not hold up in these extreme conditions. This will cause pigments to break down and fade faster over time than lighter colors that reflect light.

Although colors like yellow, green, blue, and even red are not always dark, they also tend to fade much faster than the lighter earth tones and whites. This is because the pigments that make these colors do not hold up well in UV light. Each type of pigment has its own sensitivities, and many of these more exotic colors simply do not do well when exposed to sun for long periods of time.

Tip: Darker colors will also change the temperature inside your house. It is important to keep in mind how your paint color will change what happens inside your home as well.

Consider The Surface And Read The Label

Before you purchase several cans of top-quality exterior paint you must first consider the surface you are painting. The type of exterior paint color you select may vary based on the type of surface you are painting. For example, some colors are sensitive to alkaline and will fade faster when introduced to it. These colors should not be used on alkaline surfaces like metal siding.

Be sure you understand how the color will absorb into and react with your home’s exterior in order to ensure a finished product that does not fade prematurely.

How Long Should Exterior Paint Last

Exterior paint has come a long way technologically in the last decade or so. Historically, exterior paint that was exposed to consistent direct sunlight would fade about 7% on average, annually. That means the paint would likely be unrecognizable from the color it was when first applied. This meant in the past most exterior paints began to noticeably fade after about 7 years, requiring a new paint job shortly thereafter.

Today, the highest quality exterior paints fade as little as 1% to 3% annually. This is a vast improvement, and enables paint to last almost twice as long. In fact, some of the highest quality exterior paints now offer warranties that last upwards of 15 years. This means if you use the highest quality exterior paint you should not have to worry about repainting for more than 15 years.

Longest-Lasting Exterior Paint Types

When you see that paint is fading, what you are witnessing is the paint breaking down. As the sun and elements slowly break away at its gloss, sheen, and color pigments. The most trusted and innovative paint manufacturers have created modern exterior paints. The longest-lasting colors also tend to come from acrylic exterior paints.

Latex-based paints work great for several reasons. First, they generally dry quicker than other types of exterior paint. This makes the painting itself a bit easier. Additionally, latex paints tend to hold up longer because they are able to handle UV light and the extreme changes in temperature. They can expand and contract better than other paints when it comes to the extremes, which helps prevent deterioration.

What Causes Exterior Paint To Fade

Sun Exposure

Sun exposure is the number one factor when it comes to paint deterioration. UV light is particularly effective in breaking down the pigments in paint. This causes them to break down and fade.

Tip: Planting trees and other sun-blocking methods on the sides of your home most exposed to the sun can be highly effective in preserving the color’s integrity.


Extreme weather conditions will decrease a paint’s longevity. If you live in a place with temperature extremes it is best to use a durable paint and long-lasting color.

Paint Quality

Choosing the right paint color is important, but choosing a high-quality paint is equally as important. Many new paints even have long-lasting warranties. Be sure you do your research before you buy the paint.

The Surface

The type of surface will affect how long your paint lasts. Be sure to use the best paint for the type of surface you have on your exterior. Some areas, like your foundation, may have a different surface than others. Be sure to prepare the area accordingly.

Quality of Work

When in doubt, hire a professional. Although it costs a lot more to hire professional painters, it is often worth it. Not only does it save you a lot of time and headache, but the results can last years longer.

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What Color Paint Should You Buy?

At the end of the day, you should choose the paint color that works best for you. Remember light earth tone colors will tend to last much longer and will help keep your home cool. If you decide to go with a vibrant or dark color perhaps it will be the best look for your home. Just be ready to paint the exterior more frequently than your next-door neighbor with his white home.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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