My Guide to painting eaves

There can be a misconception with choosing the right colour to paint your eaves.  Often people group eaves with the fascia and sometimes the right colour can relate to the trim of your house but this is not necessarily always the case.

Eaves, or soffits as they are sometimes referred to, often pose a problem when it comes to a colour choice.  It is usually the very last colour decision to consider and often one that people don’t even realise they have to make.  I explain to clients that the eaves are the external ceilings.  However, as with an interior ceiling, if you get the tone wrong it can throw the entire scheme.

With modern design and large alfresco areas, this colour choice is really very important so if you would like to find out more, I have a number of points to bear in mind in my guide to painting eaves.

My guide to painting eaves
Image: James Hardie

Eaves are the external ceiling colour

Remember when choosing an eave colour to treat them as an integral part of your exterior colour scheme

Choosing a colour and tone to paint your eaves is like choosing a colour for your interior ceiling and the main point that I tell clients is to remember that when a colour is horizontal, it is twice as dark as on a vertical wall.  You can see this by getting a large sample of a wall colour – you can even see it with a white – and look at it straight on and then look up at it in a horizontal position.  You can see quite clearly that it is darker.

The rule of thumb for interiors is a full strength of a white on the wall and half on the ceiling to make it look the same or for more contrast, a quarter strength of the same white.   So this is quite straight forward for an exterior white – if you are painting the walls in Colorbond Surfmist, you can ask the paint shop to mix you a half strength for your eave colour.  It gets a bit trickier though when you are selecting a darker neutral or grey for the walls or indeed if you are using a face brick with a dark trim.

My Guide to Painting Eaves
Image: Home Beautiful 

How to choose the right colour for your eaves against a darker wall

Again, consider this from the viewpoint of an interior scheme.  If you have a darker wall you have possibly chosen some light white trim to go with it, either on the fascia/barge board or for the windows and architraves.  You can use this white/off white as a reference point but rather than opting for a half strength as I would with an internal ceiling, I usually go with the full strength of the trim colour for the eaves.

If you make the eave colour too light against your darker wall you end up with a bright white ribbon around the top of your house.  Depending upon the aspect of the house – for example if it is on the high side of the street and you look up to it – this can be very disconcerting and can spoil the entire look.

My Guide to painting eaves

The three colours on this house are Taubmans Iron Age, Taubmans Grey Comfort and Taubmans Ash Brown.  These colours are all from the same range at Taubmans and I selected a lighter option from the group for the eaves – Taubmans Classified.  Although the eaves are nice and light and actually look white, Taubmans Classified is definitely not a white when you look at a sample of it.

My Guide to painting eaves

Main point to remember with selecting an eave colour is not to go too light

My Guide to painting eaves

The house above has a light Colorbond Dune roof but the owner has added a nice dark gutter to tie in the render colour and then added a white Surfmist fascia and used this as a guide for the eave colour.

The right colour for your eaves though does not have to relate to the trim/fascia colour of your house.  For example you may have a house with a mid-tone neutral and a charcoal gutter and fascia.  Most likely you will not want a charcoal eave so you need to select the wall colour first and then look at the relevant commercial colour Atlas/fan deck to see this colour as it gets a lot lighter.

I tend to favour slightly darker eaves – my advice with exterior colour is that you often need to select one that is much darker than you originally think and this is the same with painting eaves.  A beautiful exterior scheme can be spoilt with eaves that are too light.  For the house below, I specified a mid grey for the walls and a light grey for the eaves.    The painter was not happy!  He said that the eaves would be too dark and that the client should opt for a white (just as many people and many painters like to just use a bright harsh ‘ceiling white’ for interior ceilings) but I think you can safely say that the eaves on the house below look like a white, it just doesn’t have the jarring quality of a brilliant white that would have spoilt this house.  I am happy to say the client stuck with my choice.

My Guide to Painting Eaves

Dulux Stepney for the walls and Dulux Dieskau for the eaves

Therefore if you make a colour selection for your walls, take the time to find out what it is in its lightest version.  If you still feel it is too dark you can ask for a half strength of the lightest version – remember to test it out first too so that you can see the overall effect.  The paint store should be able to help you with this but if you are really stuck, a colour consultant would be able to help.

You may also need some assistance if you have selected a face brick and you are using a dark gutter and fascia.  You need to look at the brick tonings and match them to a paint colour and then see that in its lighter incarnation.

How to paint ceiling rafters

My Guide to painting eaves
Image: HouseNerd

I usually treat exposed timber rafters slightly differently as a large portion is in a vertical position and also joins directly to the fascia board and posts.  I tend to just paint these the same colour (often a white) as the posts/balustrades/fascia etc.  If you are using dark posts, fascia and balustrade then of course you can also paint the rafters in the same dark colour.

Related: Why I love a crisp white trim

Dark contrasting eaves

As with interior ceilings you can do some clever tricks to manipulate the feel of a room.  By painting an internal ceiling a dark colour you really define the lighter walls and lower the appearance of the ceiling.  There is nothing to prevent you from doing the same thing with the eaves on your house.  Painting them black to match your gutters and fascia is very striking and brings a strong contrast to the roofline.  You can see the effect here:

My Guide to painting eaves
Image: Homesari

Related: Manipulating a space with colour

My Guide to painting eaves
Image: Catalano Architects

This house above is a particular favourite of mine.  Designed by Catalano Architects in Boston, they have cleverly linked the lined eaves with the sophisticated grey trim colour for the house.  I really like this effect.

Eaves lined in timber are also very effective as again the darker eaves can make the house more appealing, so don’t automatically think that you have to paint them a bright white.

My Guide to painting eaves

How to choose the right colour for an alfresco ceiling

Many homes now are designed with large Alfresco areas that lead off of an indoor space with doors that open up completely and in this instance indoor/outdoor ceilings are almost as one.  Your indoor ceiling may be very light.  They could perhaps be something like Dulux Lexicon Quarter strength and unless you have opted for a very crisp white exterior it is unlikely that this light, bright white would work for exterior eaves.

This is where you have to make a compromise.

Assess the exterior colour and what you think to be the right eave colour and look at it against your indoor ceiling colour.  You might need to adjust it to be a bit lighter so that you don’t completely spoil the flow but don’t be tempted to match it (unless you do have a very bright white house).  Always consider the overall look of the exterior – this is the most important element.  To be honest how many people stare up at the ceiling of an indoor/outdoor room?  In these instances you can make a feature of the Alfresco ceiling – perhaps line it with cedar boards or simply install a shiplap finish in an off white.  By creating a different substrate, you can then get away with a different colour and/or tone.

My Guide to painting eaves
Image: Haymes Paints
If your Alfresco space is self contained and doesn’t flow through to the main eaves of the house then you can easily treat this ceiling differently.

Related: How to link your outdoor room to the inside – 5 easy steps

My final point on choosing a colour for eaves

Don’t forget that the eaves of a house are where the spiders make their homes too and if you have traditional rafters or rough hewn beams they can easily get very dusty. Despite your best efforts with a Turk’s head (if you can reach that high) eaves are often the first surface to get really dirty on an exterior.  This alone should strengthen my case for slightly darker whites or neutrals here!


My Guide to Painting Eaves

 

36 thoughts on “My Guide to painting eaves

  1. Avatar
    Leonora says:

    A very enlightening article which has raised a few doubts in my mind. After seeing your Dulux Stepney rendered house, it makes me concerned that the Shale grey I have chosen as my render maybe too light. From memory Stepney is much darker than Colorbond Shale Grey. My house also gets full sun as it is north facing. Have I picked too light a colour for render?

    Secondly, I have chosen Lexicon 1/4 for my eaves and I will have a Windspray roof and fascia. My first floor is cladded in Terrace White. Shale grey is the remainder of the house that will be rendered. Have I picked the right colour combinations especially regarding the eaves? I should mention my windows will be pearl white.

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Leonora Exterior colours do lighten up a lot – often more than people realise. The house in this image shown is also in a north facing aspect so Shale Grey will look much lighter than the house shown here. You are partnering it with Pearl White windows though so you will have a really sharp contrast and Shale Grey does work well with Terrace White which is very light outside. Your eaves may be OK if you stick with these colours but Lexicon Quarter is the very lightest you can go so they will be bright. So first of all ensure you are happy with Shale Grey – it does work with Dulux Terrace White and Pearl white windows. If you want less obvious eaves you could opt for Lexicon half or even Snow Season quarter which is a bit darker again but will still work with both Terrace White and Shale Grey. If you can, take the time to paint large sample boards with two coats of each colour and view them on your site in full sunlight. I hope this has helped Samantha

      • Avatar
        Leonora says:

        Thanks so much Samantha. Could I just as well use Terrace white on the eaves just to limit the number of whites I am using? Although, I was planning on using lexicon quater for my trims. So these would need to be changed too…

        Also can you recommend a nice light grey render in case I don’t go with Shale grey? Stepney may look too dark in the shade.

        Thank you for your time!

  2. Avatar
    Leonora says:

    Thanks so much Samantha. Could I just as well use Terrace white on the eaves just to limit the number of whites I am using? Although, I was planning on using lexicon quater for my trims. So these would need to be changed too…

    Also can you recommend a nice light grey render in case I don’t go with Shale grey? Stepney may look too dark in the shade.

    Thank you for your time!

  3. Avatar
    Melanie Nugent says:

    What a wonderful read, still a little confused on what colour to paint my eaves as I am building a new home I have a very dark brick ( metallix graphite ) with night sky roof/ guttering basalt fasia was thinking to keep the basalt colour under the eaves but I am concerned as I have an under roof alfresco area and a portico at the front door which I think might close in the roof space in both these areas do you have any suggestion on what I should do here?

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Melanie I think that Basalt may be too dark – with a very dark house and dark roof and gutters you really need something a bit lighter to give the house a lift. I don’t like white as you get a ribbon around the roof line but something like Dulux Madigan which is a pale blue based grey may work. Bricks are tricky because you need to take your lead from the colour of the brick. Dulux Terrace White is a lighter grey again and as you say you don’t want a dark ceiling for your alfresco area. Sometimes these areas are self-contained – so the eaves for the house don’t connect and if so you can use something lighter again here if you feel closed in. It is a balancing act between not have a white ribbon to spoil your grey scheme but not having anything too dark to make the house gloomy. Hope this helps Samantha

      • Avatar
        Melanie Nugent says:

        Thanks Samantha I will have a look at that colour, I was thinking that maybe the basalt would be ok if I have the colour mixed into a 3rd strength colour so it wasn’t so dark under the alfresco as the roof is set up not level with the eaves.
        But I do like the colour you have suggested I will grab a sample pot of this and paint some timber and have a look next to everything.
        Thanks Samantha for you help on this big decision on deciding on this, I was thrown when my builder asked ‘what colour do you want the eaves painted’

  4. Avatar
    Lyndall says:

    Hi
    I have painted my house weatherboards in shale grey
    The roof and gutters are surfmist
    Fascia is Lexicon quarter
    I like the shake grey but looks too similar to gutters
    Is that because gutters are horizontal so surfmist looks darker anc similar to shale grey
    What colour could I change the gutters too
    Shale grey has a green tinge as well
    Thanks
    Look forward to your response

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Lyndall yes tonally Colorbond Shale Grey is not enormously different to Colorbond Surfmist – with the lighter white in between they will probably look quite similar outside. The colours look different inside but out in the sun they do blend together. Usually your gutters would match your roof or your fascia so it is difficult to say what you should change your gutters to as you wouldn’t want them in the Lexicon Quarter as they would be too bright and not practical. Perhaps consider introducing a darker grey for your gutters to break it up and then also paint your front door the same to link the colours? Good luck Samantha

  5. Avatar
    Michelle says:

    Hi Samantha,

    I came across your article whilst trying to research external painting guidelines and found it to be very informative but I am still lacking the confidence to decide on a colour palate moving forward. I am renovating a beachside property and I have selected Sycon Stria vertical cladding for the outside lining which I will be painting in Colorbond Monument which is dark charcoal. The windows are black aluminium. I am trying to keep the house quite modern and my painter is quite insistent that my eave sheets and window trims be painted white which I am quite adamant I do not want to do. I was wondering what your thoughts would be on using a lighter colour for the fascia (such as colorbond Basalt) and window trims and then 1/4 strength for eavesheets)? I will also be replacing all the gutters and downpipes. Alternatively I could go black to match the windows and then a mid grey for the eaves. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

  6. Avatar
    Kym says:

    Hi,

    I’ve found your article really interesting!!
    I’m wondeting if you can help me out with eave colours- we are repainting our weatherboard: exterior walls- dulux tranquil retrial, gutters and door- monument, windows- Dulux Lexicon Half Strength. I can’t decide whether the eaves should be grey or white but don’t want them too dark (monument) or glaring white. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Kym you could try a sample of Dulux Celtic Sky which is a lighter grey than Tranquil Retreat. So they won’t appear white but won’t be as dark as the weatherboards. Just try a sample first though. Good luck Samantha

  7. Avatar
    Tai says:

    Thanks for generously sharing your wealth of colour knowledge!!! Our house has a terracotta roof (weatherboard, double story, Edwardian style) which is stumping me when it comes to colour choice. Looking at monument for fascia, Haymes sense or minimalist 6 for weatherboards with white windows. Don’t want that bluish colour you often see with grays, but something rich. Is a gray palate the way to go or am I better going something with more brown undertones??? Many thanks!

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Tai Grey is the colour of the moment but that doesn’t mean you have to have it. Saying that though grey does go well with Terracotta but it must be a warm grey and you are right to avoid the blues here. Haymes Minimalist would be my pick out of the two but I think you should consider no. 7 in this range to give yourself a rich colour – They lighten up so much outside – you can then use varying strengths of Minimalist for trim and eaves etc. Test out samples first! Good luck Samantha

  8. Avatar
    Leoni says:

    This is a brilliant article and so helpful!! So generous of you to be commenting still on it too.
    We have a crusty terracotta roof on our weatherboard we can’t afford to change just yet. Our extension will have a Windspray Roof. The weather boards will be Haymes Putty Grey (a shade down from Dulux Grey Pebble to my eyes) which is a dark white/super pale Greige. I hope to change to Windspray Colorbond on the front roof also in the future.
    In the meantime I am a bit worried Windspray gutters will be blue and weird against the Putty Grey weatherboards & the muddy roof. Do you have a gutter suggestion – should I go Basalt? As to eaves I thought I could do Haymes Dream for the Eaves, it’s a dark white – or even Surfmist? Thank you if you see this! Love your work 🙂

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Leonie Glad you enjoyed the article! Terracotta roofing does look better with dark grey gutters and as Basalt will go with Windspray and the Putty Grey I think this is a good idea. And you are on the money with the eave colour – perfect. So eventually when you change the roof you will have a darker blue/grey trim but I think this will actually work well and you could possibly bring the colour in elsewhere – front door? Anyway, I hope you enjoy your new extension. Samantha

  9. Avatar
    Ryanna says:

    Hi,
    I’m currently making the selections for my house. I have purchased multiple pots of grey paint. My aim is to pick a grey that doesn’t throw another colour. I have narrowed it down to Shale grey. I plan to go surfmist roof, gutters and fascia.
    The building company wants to paint the eaves, soffit and poles in surfmist. Is this a good suggestion? My original thoughts were to go a white but after reading your article I’m unsure.
    We are also in a flood zone being close to the beach. We have to build up with concrete. On the exposed concrete, would you just suggest to paint it the same colour as the house?
    Any ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Ryanna I think you are fine with Surfmist for the eaves here – this is fairly standard with those colours on the roof, gutters and fascia, particularly as you have a fairly light grey on the walls. If you add a darker colour to the exposed concrete you could draw attention to it more and then also can break the house up but this can be a good thing if the house is very large, particularly if it is high as a darker colour at the base here grounds the house well. However unless it is very high I would probably just paint it the same. Good luck Samantha

  10. Avatar
    Jennie says:

    Hi Sam
    We have horizontal ironsand corrugate cladding, ironsand roof and windows – your suggestion for eaves please?
    Cheers
    Jen

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Jen as this is a blue based Colorbond perhaps something like Dulux Terrace White could work – check a sample though to see if it is the right tonal level for you – you may want it a touch darker. Good luck Samantha

  11. Avatar
    Helen Margulies says:

    Hi Samantha,

    We have a terracotta roof and are painting our double storey weatherboard house. We like Silkwort but are considering Winter Fog ( because it’s less lilac?)
    Fence is Monument. Windows probably Vivid White (any tips for more suitable colour would be appreciated)

    My main query is re the colour for fascias and gutters…we are thinking either Monument, or another rich, warm dark grey that would suit.
    Your advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Helen

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Helen Yes Winter Fog is more of a neutral and a good exterior colour. Monument would work for your gutters and fascias – this looks pretty smart with terracotta and also links in your fence so I don’t see any reason to change that – hope this is helpful! Samantha

  12. Avatar
    Helen says:

    Hi Samantha

    Loved reading the article and all the great advice you’ve offered.

    We live in a single story brick veneer cottage currently white brick with grey/brown concrete tiles.

    The tiles are going to be replaced with a colour bond roof and my question is the following:

    Should we stick with the white bricks and have a monument roof? Or white bricks and a surfmist roof?
    Or finally dark grey walls maybe monument with white windows and surfmist roof. The garage door is currently surfmist. The windows are white with small squares that go all the way to the ground.

    I’d be so grateful for your thoughts…

    Many thanks!

    Helen

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Helen the schemes you are looking at are so vastly different that I think you need to have a good think about the look you really want as all of these will work – it’s just a different look. Some points though to help you to make a decision – An all white house – walls and roof – is a big statement and may stand out a bit so you need to consider the location of your house and how it will appear in the street. Often this is a look suited to the coastal style. A darker grey roof with white bricks looks smart but maybe rather than Monument which is very dark you could go with a mid tone grey? Basalt is a nice alternative and isn’t as heavy but it gives you some contrast which can be quite appealing on a house. I do like white bricks rather than grey but painting them a grey would make your windows stand out more so if these are a real feature that you would like to draw attention to then this could be a good solution. Another consideration for your roof colour is that Surfmist will reflect the heat and Monument will retain heat so you will need to think about this in regard to your location. Good luck! Samantha

  13. Avatar
    Karen campbell says:

    Hi Samantha thankyou so much for your great article and advice. I have a new build that incorporates hoop ply interior raked ceiling with a black shadow line but unfortunately I cannot continue this product to my outdoor alfresco or eaves as the product is vulnerable to black mould at our coastal location. The roofline is a skillion and it would have been lovely to be able to read all as one continuous ceiling. Any ideas for painting my external ceiling(eaves and alfresco). the house has a lovely Castlemaine stone external rock wall and I was thininking about trying to paint the eave cement fibre sheeting a grey found in the stone. The roof is monument but can’t be seen from the front because of the skillion. The rear and entrance of the home has a khaki/grey render. My architect says to paint it all monument but I feel this will be too heavy..I have been advised not to try and match interior and exterior, but I love your idea of finding a tone that compliments both indoor ceiling and exterior. any ideas or advice would be very helpful.kind regards Karen

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Karen I think you can get away with Monument on your eaves as it can have quite a stunning effect but I feel it would be too much for an alfresco area. I would have thought without looking at samples etc that there should be a grey in the stone which matches a tone of the khaki grey render – a lighter version of the render (though not too light) which matches one of the greys in the stone should work and I feel that the grey would be a good compromise next to the hoop ply ceiling indoors. good luck Samantha

  14. Avatar
    Ann Chantiri says:

    Thank you Samantha
    For the great article 😉
    Your advice would be much appreciated.
    Our house was built in 1919 ( front door on the side of house)a 90’,weatherboar.d 2nd story . Roof is quite prominent charcoal grey/ black with a terracotta heritage trim
    I am tossing between ghosting or grey pebble for the walls ? They seem similar ???
    I am hopeful that lexicon quarter for the eaves andvwindows and oolong for the gutters and gables will do the trick .

    The house is north east facing

    Hell this is hard !!!
    I would be most grateful for you expert opinion 🥺
    Kind regards Ann

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Ann Yes Ghosting and Grey Pebble are very similar – Ghosting is a touch more grey and is just slightly cooler than Grey Pebble. Do try a very large sample board outside though on your NE facing aspect as you may find that these become too washed out – my feeling is that whichever one you go for you may need one tone darker but test first because it really depends on the look that you want. Oolong is a beautiful exterior colour – a rich dark grey/blue which Lexicon Quarter is an excellent bright fresh trim colour. Good luck Samantha

  15. Avatar
    Mary Kaitse says:

    Hi Samantha.
    Thank you for your article, a great read. I live at Perth, Western Australia. My home is almost 40 years old, rendered, with a dark grey/brown clay tiled roof and gutters and facias in Monument. I am thinking about painting the exterior walls in Terrace White and the eaves in a similar tone. My question is what brand of paint do you recommend and not sure whether to use matt or low sheen?

    Kind regards
    Mary

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Mary Terrace White is a Dulux colour so it is recommended that you use Dulux to ensure you get the colour exactly as you want. I like matt finishes for exterior rendered walls. Good luck Samantha

  16. Avatar
    Kim says:

    We are painting our weatherboard home Dulux Calf Skin and the painter is suggesting Lexicon for the trims (which we want to look classic white). Our gutters are currently Woodland Grey but I’m thinking to drop them down to Wallaby (lighter). What should my eaves be? Any other suggestions?

    In the back of our house are all windows, attached to a veranda that has surfmist ceiling and guttering (that is seen from under the veranda). Now I’m wondering if my eaves should be surfmist?

    It’s all so confusing. I know the colours I like (above) but the variations due your head in.

  17. Avatar
    Ken Wilson says:

    Hi, great site you have here It’s saved me making some huge mistakes, I’m a bloke so easily confused. Wife & I have decided on Surfmist colourbond roof, vivid white gutters & facia and Dune wall (rendered). We have a large deck with sandstone wall. Double garage door (surfmist). Long drive is a medium to dark brick. We live on a lake with lots of trees. Not sure what colour to paint the eaves. Any suggestions would be appreciated or you think this colour scheme is not good I would also like to know. Regards, Ken & Cath

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Ken The scheme all sounds good. As you have very bright gutters and facias I think that I would be inclined in this instance to continue that colour for your eaves. If you did want them to relate more to the wall colour you could look at Dulux Grey Pebble Quarter which is a grey off white in the same colour family as Dune. But please do a test first to see which effect you prefer. The darker white would certainly be more practical. Good luck Samantha

  18. Avatar
    Louise says:

    Hi Samantha!
    What a great article!
    We are doing renovations and are thinking of using the below colours for the outside:
    – windows – pearl white
    – front door – monument
    – colourbond rood – wallaby
    – render – powdered rock
    We need to choose the colour for our fascia & eaves. I assumed we’d do the gutters and fascia in wallaby the same as the roof, but i’m Not sure what colour to do the eaves? Would you stick with a lighter version of the powdered rock? Or is there another suggestion you might have for our render colour (i’m Not 100% sold on it – we are using Tranquil retreat inside)
    Appreciate and help or advice you might have. Thanks Louise

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Louise The scheme you have suggested is a classic one and it makes sense to continue the Wallaby onto the gutters and facias. The eaves should be a lighter colour of Dulux Powered Rock – you could look at Ghosting half to see what you think of that? Good luck Samantha

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