I Just Bought a House: Will Painting the Exterior Add Value?

You’ve been house-hunting and have found the perfect place … but there’s just one small catch. You hate the exterior color of the house.

Luckily, it’s easy enough to change the color of a home, but you want to make sure that your investment in the paint job adds value, too.

When does it make sense to paint the exterior of a home, and what kind of paint job should you go for? And does painting the exterior of a house add any value?

We’ll take a look at a few situations in which painting the exterior of your home will go a long way toward not only pumping up its curb appeal but also increasing its value.

What is the value of painting the exterior of a house?
Source: (ronstik / ShutterStock)

How much value can you add to a home by painting the exterior?

Painting the exterior of your home is beneficial for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s your home, and you should enjoy looking at it. If you don’t like the color of your home, “paint it,” says Terry Bunch, a high-performing real estate agent in Naperville, Illinois, with 16 years of experience.

Will painting it add value?

“Maybe not, because if you’ve just bought the home and you plan to live there for a while, trends may change again before you sell it,” says Bunch. “But if you’re a buyer and you want to paint your new home, it won’t take away value as long as the color is acceptable.”

And there absolutely are scenarios in which painting your home will add value.

In a 2019 HomeLight survey of more than 900 real estate agents, the estimated cost of painting a home’s exterior was $2,803, but the estimated value it added was $4,228 — that’s a 51% return on investment.

Painting is not just about aesthetics; it’s a maintenance item, too. “Any home is going to benefit from maintenance,” says Bunch.

“Making sure the exterior of the home has an effective and current paint job is important because it will protect from the elements and preserves the life of the home.”

Painting the exterior of a home can keep mold and mildew out by keeping moisture out of the wood, siding, or other building materials. If you have siding on your home, painting it will prolong the life of the siding, meaning you’ll have to replace it less frequently, saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.

“Maintaining your home by keeping it properly painted adds value — and if you don’t do it, it will take away value,” Bunch says.

If you’re wondering how much it might cost to paint the exterior of your new home, a recent survey by Home Advisor shows that homeowners reported the average cost to paint the exterior of a home was $2,856, with a typical range between $1,710 and $4,002.

The average price per square foot to paint the exterior of a home was between $0.50 and $3.50, depending on the location, condition of the exterior, and accessibility. The cost to paint stucco and brick was $1 per square foot more expensive than the cost of painting vinyl or wood.

Is fresh paint sorely needed?

When the paint on a home begins to chip or peel, it can eventually damage the wood or other materials that it’s covering up. If that’s the case with your new home, you’ll want to paint it so that you don’t end up with maintenance issues down the line.

Wood siding, for example, needs to be painted or sealed every four to nine years. If bare wood is exposed to rain, humidity, or ocean air, it can rot. Rotting exterior will, of course, devalue a home. “I’ve seen homes with painting that is overdue, and that impacts the sellability,” says Bunch.

Bright paint won't help to add value through painting the exterior
Source: (Bernard Hermant / Unsplash)

Is the paint too bright?

This one may seem pretty obvious, but loud, obnoxious colors don’t do your home’s value any favors and will make it less valuable when you put it on the market.

“If the issue with the paint is just cosmetic and you’re getting ready to sell your house, you can add value by picking a current color,” says Bunch.

While current colors change over time, neutral colors usually have long-term appeal. Colors like off-white, gray, light blue, and taupe are popular today and can withstand the test of time.

When it comes to the interior of a home, gray and beige are popular go-to colors. In a survey of agents, Agreeable Gray by Sherwin-Williams had the widest buyer appeal, followed by Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore, Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams, and Repose Gray by Sherwin-Williams.

Does the paint work with the home style?

Picture San Francisco’s painted ladies in your head — now imagine them not as the colorful Victorian and Edwardian houses that they are, but as a row of white and beige homes. They’re not as appealing in those monotone colors, right?

If you’re buying a home with a specific look, whether it’s an old Victorian home or a mid-century modern bungalow, it’s important to paint the exterior according to what will best fit its style. If you’re not sure which colors fit the style of your home, contact a local paint retailer — many offer services to help you pick colors that fit best with the type of home you own.

National paint companies like Benjamin Moore also offer tools where you can upload a picture of your house; Benjamin Moore will show you complementary colors to what you’ve already got on the house as well as give you an idea of what the place will look like when it’s painted.

Consider your region when painting the exterior of your house to add value, such as a Spanish red tile roof
Source: (Nina Mikryukova / ShutterStock)

Does the paint fit with the region where you live?

Just as certain colors work for certain styles of homes, different parts of the country favor different colors of homes, too.

An exterior color that would be wildly popular in San Antonio, for example, might not look right in New Brunswick. A classic Spanish home with a red tile roof would look out-of-place painted in the dark, woodsy colors that one would typically paint a cabin in the woods.

Bunch points out that, “the closer you come to the house, the more important the paint is.” In other words, a house may look great online, as a stand-alone image, but if the paint color of your new home doesn’t match with the region, or even other homes in the neighborhood, it will stick out like a sore thumb.

“It needs to pass the drive-by test,” says Bunch.

Does the paint feel too dark?

There’s no way around it: a dark paint job can make a house look creepy and uninviting.

In addition to the creep factor, there are other reasons why a dark-colored house may be less than functional. Dark colors tend to absorb more of the sun’s heat, making the interior of the home hotter; and dark colors also have a tendency to crack, peel, and flake more frequently than homes painted with lighter colors.

When it comes to the interior of your home, dark accent walls have also fallen in popularity.

“If you have a red wall, maybe it is time to paint it because that isn’t the color in favor anymore,” says Bunch.

Add a pop of color to shutters or trim when painting the exterior of your house to add value
Source: (Weronika Marcińczyk / Unsplash)

Does the paint feel too boring or dated?

“I have been the listing agent on properties that were painted a color that was appropriate when the home was painted — but trends change, and part of my marketing advice to the seller was to repaint to expedite the sale,” says Bunch.

Indeed, a home painted with colors that feel dated, or even just boring, may not strip value from the home, but it certainly won’t add any value.

If you want to spice up the colors of your new home without committing to repainting the entire exterior, adding some pops of color to the trim or shutters can be a good way to infuse some personality.

Do you have to paint the whole house?

A lot of homes can get a good facelift if you paint the trim, front door, or a smaller part of the house instead of the whole thing.

Painting the front door with a pop of color, for example, can infuse some personality and color into the home without going overboard. “It’s about curb appeal,” says Bunch.

Assess if you want to paint over stone or brick when fixing the exterior of a house to add value
Source: (Eduardo Vázquez / Unsplash)

Is the underlying material worth showing off?

You may have purchased a brick home or a home with interesting stone detail that has been painted over. In this case, you may want to consider stripping the paint off the brick or stone to expose the raw materials below.

Before you dive into a job like that, however, know that brick is porous and stripping paint from just one brick wall could take weeks. If you’re patient and up for the challenge, your effort should ultimately yield the results you want.

Bunch says that while he often has buyers who plan on painting the brick on the fireplace, he discourages buyers from painting over a brick house. Even when there is low inventory, “houses are like city buses. If you miss one, another is going to come along. If the house you buy is going to need to have the brick painted — it’s a maintenance issue forever after that.”

Painting the exterior of a home, whether it’s because you want a color that’s more suited to your taste or because you’re going for a timeless color that will add value to your home, is almost never a bad idea.

And, ultimately, repainting the exterior of your home is never just about looks. “Maintaining exterior paint, along with caulking, is a homeowner’s best friend,” Bunch says. “Paint is the cheapest investment, both inside and out.”