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Popular Exterior Paint Colors for the Pacific Northwest

by | Mar 2, 2021 | Exterior Painting

Vibes and Exterior Paint Colors (Pacific Northwest)

The Pacific NW is known for its lush green environment, coffee, rugged coastline, and rich, malty beers. With PNW, Portland, and Beaverton house painting, we take our color notes from these same inspirations. We “normally” are not drawn to too bright or pure colors. Think instead of the moody gray skies, fog hovering over low spots, and trees (so many trees) covering the rolling hills. Think of the rocky coastline and where it’s hard to see where the water meets the sky. The 2020 color of the year from Sherwin Williams was Naval 6244 – a rich, deep navy that is stunning. Nature offers an incredible color palette. 

You’ll find our whites are warm and rich, and our grays have gone warmer as well. You will still find strong deep colors, from dark charcoals to black, but what is newer are the sophisticated deep blues and navys.

Popular Exterior Paint Colors Pacific Northwest

With all of the beauty and nature the PNW has to offer, choosing the “right” exterior paint color scheme can mean different things to different people.  Our paint palettes are rooted in nature with earthy greens, mushrooms, and grays and give us so much inspiration. When we do go to the more saturated charcoals, navys and black, you’ll still find a nod to nature with stained wood accents.

Some of my favorite combinations are Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy HC-154 or Kendall Charcoal HC-166 or Sherwin Williams Peppercorn SW7674 for the body, with a Simply White OC-117 contrasting trim and Dijon 193 for the door to bring warmth. This works on a 1920’s Craftsman as well as a Mid Century Mod renovation or a new-build Contemporary. 

Popular Exterior Paint Colors Pacific Northwest

Gone are the beige and tans, and in are the more complex colors like Sherwin Williams Functional Gray 7024 and Gauntlet Gray 7019. These deep mushroom tones are affected by light more than others. Some people find this ever-changing dynamic intriguing, and to others, it can be a little scary. My favorite is Urbane Bronze SW7048 – this was actually named Sherwin Williams 2021 Color of the Year! This is such a sophisticated color with so much personality. With exterior painting, make sure and sample the paint in several places as this is a complex color and is magic when you see it play under different lighting conditions. 

Important Considerations for the Pacific Northwest

What makes this area so lush and green is the 43” of rain we average a year, then in summer we get the heat and sun. This weather takes a toll on any painted finish and without the proper prep, your project will fail. Proper prep is more important than the paint itself. There I said it, but the finished product is only as good as the prep. Skimping on ANY of the prep will result in a project that will not last as long as it should and just means you get to do it all over again.

Taking into consideration the weather it is recommended to use a Low Lustre or Satin finish vs. Flat paint. This sheds the rain better as well as reflects the heat and sun for better color retention.

Popular Exterior Paint Colors in the Pacific Northwest by Region

The Pacific Northwest landscape of mountains, trees, and rocky ocean views inspires a beautiful color palette. It took us a LONG time to get on the gray bandwagon. I was told many times by homeowners that “Oh, I can’t do gray! It’s too gray outside here to paint my walls gray.” I just smiled and asked about what colors make them feel good and bring comfort. It took a while but the more people started seeing gray used more often on an HGTV show or in print they came around. 

Oregon (Portland, Bend)

popular paint colors portland bend oregonIn Oregon, we love our wood and our outdoors in general. The Oregon landscape has a little bit of everything. We certainly have lush green, but we also have mountains, rocky coastline, and high desert-scapes in Bend on the east side of the state. It is a wide-ranging color palette of earthy mid-tones and natural elements.

Washington (Vancouver, Seattle)

In Washington, as in any area of the Pacific Northwest, lighting is so important and ever-changing. Color is seen by everyone differently and when you add that variable to how natural light plays off of a particular color it can be more than a little frustrating. I suggest painting large samples (no more than three) on poster-board or photo paper and taping them up on the outside of your home. Corners work best. Then step back and walk back & forth to see how the light plays off of each color. How dark or light is it? How does it contrast with the rock or masonry on the outside of your home? As you narrow down your choices, fold it in half and hang it on an inside corner and in the shade… Do you like the full range of your color?

The Pacific Northwest mid-tones where blue and gray come together can be very challenging. Make sure and view your samples at different times of day as well as in different varying cloud coverage, as all of these variables affect the light and how you’ll perceive the color. It’s important to do the homework if you want to be happy with the end result.

Next, decide if you like a dramatic contrast between the body color and the trim color or whether you prefer a more subtle approach or monochromatic scheme. 


Idaho consists mainly of small to medium-sized cities with incredible ecological diversity. In Idaho, you will find mountains, areas covered in douglas fir trees, desert, and beautiful lakes, just to name a few. These factors all influence popular paint colors, even the color of the front door!

popular paint colors idaho boiseThe front door is one element of which I’ve seen a lot of change. It used to be we were painting a couple of red or black doors every week! Even if the rest of the home is fairly conservative, a new front door paint can really give the whole house a boost. It’s the lipstick, the final touch. It is for curb appeal, THE biggest statement you can make.

As I said, we used to do a LOT of red & black doors, then we were doing some lime green or yellow or blue. The biggest change in late 2019-2021 is the use of the softer tones, they are back, dare I say pastel! A soft blue, seafoam, even pink is making a comeback. I think we are all looking for our sanctuary, our safe place. Some of my favorites are Benjamin Moore’s 2021 color of the year Aegean Teal #2136-40, Sherwin Williams SW9138 Stardew or SW9632 Serenely, SW6339 Persimmon, Hubbard Squash SW0044 & Benjamin Moore Pale Almond OC-2. Have fun with this, it’s fresh and light and feels like spring!


In Montana, we find more rustic and farmhouse trends. HGTV’s Fixer Upper, Magnolia enterprise has inspired the Modern Farmhouse for the last number of years. Some colors to create this look include Sherwin, Williams Drift of Mist SW9166 paired with Forged Steel SW9565. It has been around a while now and is evolving a bit as everything does.

Professional Painting Contractors in Portland, Beaverton, Oregon & More!

At Absolute Painting, we have a professional color consultant (Beth Girgen Hall) who LOVES assisting clients in finding THEIR perfect color statement. It starts by asking a lot of questions because it’s important with such a large investment (like purchasing a home) that it reflects them as well as being inviting, interesting but also quite timeless. 

Absolute Painting’s portland house painters have been providing the highest quality painting and construction services since 1995! We specialize in interior and exterior residential and commercial painting and offer professional color consultation to all our customers.

To get started, request a free estimate and we’ll get back to you shortly. We THANK YOU for your time and look forward to working with you!

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