What You Need to Know About Undertones of Neutrals When Choosing Exterior Siding Colors

Previously, we talked about choosing exterior siding colors that work with atypical roof colors, as well as coordinating exterior colors with brick and stone. Now, you are going to learn about the importance of recognizing undertones of exterior neutrals.

Understanding Undertones

Color undertones emerge more boldly on exteriors exposed to natural lighting conditions than they might in interior conditions with a mixture of natural and artificial lighting. This is why it is so important to identify and be aware of undertones of all neutrals you are considering for your exterior.

All neutrals, even off-whites, have one or more undertones. Medium tone neutrals are the most likely to read as a “color” when you didn’t intend them to. A seemingly neutral beige or gray color will still have one or more undertones of color. You may see the color beneath the neutral emerge on shady afternoons, or when the house is wet after a hard rain.

Pairing exterior elements with similar undertones will result in a more neutral, tonal look, while mixing undertones on exteriors will make the contrasting elements read more as different colors, even if you first considered them merely neutrals. Place a light beige with a green undertone next to a darker beige with a pink undertone, and suddenly you don’t have a beige exterior, you have a green and pink one!

Recognizing Undertones of Neutrals

The first thing you need to do is identify the undertone of the neutral you are considering for your exterior.  Sometimes it helps to compare it to other colors in a paint fan deck. For example, perhaps you are considering a color for your LP® siding such as PPG’s Fond Memory. It looks like a nice neutral, right?

the decorologist color collection for LP SmartSide trim and siding understones

Can you tell what undertone it has? Let’s try looking at it next to a strip with obvious greens and yellows elsewhere in the fan deck:

the decorlogist color collection for LP SmartSide trim and siding understones

By comparing the paint chip to others, it becomes obvious that the undertone of Fond Memory is pink. The pink will be particularly apparent if paired with greens and yellows, even if those greens and yellows are simply the undertones of other neutrals on the exterior.

LP® SmartSide® lap siding painted in Fond Memory might look fairly neutral next to a stone facade with a pinkish stone since the two elements have the same undertone. Depending on what other colors surround a given color, it will be perceived somewhat differently.

Understanding the importance of color undertones in neutrals and recognizing the differences can affect the outcome of your exterior’s beauty.

Next time on the Upside to SmartSide blog, I’ll be teaching you specifically about the undertone colors of beige and gray neutrals, and how we are helping you take the guesswork out of choosing exterior colors. Stay tuned for more siding ideas!


Note: All photos are for illustrative purposes only. Please refer regularly to for correct and up-to-date product installation instructions.

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