Selecting Exterior Materials for Your Home
Expert advice from the team at TKP Architects on choosing the right material palette for your exterior
Building a custom home or updating your existing home is not only an immense commitment of time and money, but also an emotional investment of energy. One daunting task for homeowners is the selection of exterior materials. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and experience “decision fatigue” from the abundance of options on the market. So to help you out, here are a few tips to help you select a material palette that reflects your personal taste and sparks inner joy.
One Step at a Time
When considering which exterior materials to choose for your home, it is critical to understand that materials do not live in a vacuum—they work together as a composition. An individual material you love by itself may not work well with the style of your design, alongside neighboring materials, or in the context and setting of your home.
A great first step is discovery. Compile “inspirational images” that speak to you, focusing on material and color compositions. Be specific—what are you drawn to? What do you dislike? If you already have a collection of images, circle back to your favorites and take careful note of the color and material composition that attracted your attention.
With your inspiration images in mind, begin by selecting the most visually complex material, the most prominent, or special material with the most limited color options available. Use this material as a guide to select the remaining materials for your project, whether it be wood, concrete, stucco, or metal. Aim for materials that share undertones or colors with your featured material, this will ensure cohesion and bring out beautiful color tones you may not have seen otherwise. If you are struggling to find complimentary materials, try switching out the featured material until something clicks.
If you live in a neighborhood requiring a design review, be aware of requirements that limit colors and materials. Seek out this information early on so you don’t become attached to a forbidden finish!
You Aren’t Alone
Don’t be afraid to lean on the experience and expertise of your design professionals and builder. Architects and Interior Designers often consider exterior materials as they establish the overall style and character of the project. They tend to be familiar with available material and color options and can provide an initial material palette for you to react to, instead of starting from scratch. On the other hand, builders are an excellent source of information on cost, durability, performance, and ease of installation.
Welcome input from your team and focus on clear communication to achieve a material composition that speaks to you personally.
Tools to Aid the Decision Process
It can be challenging to clearly visualize what your home might look like with different finishes. Luckily there are several tools that can help!
If you feel unsure of your material selections, or want to explore multiple options, digital renderings can be incredibly useful, and many architects offer this additional service. After the initial legwork is done to set up a rendering, it is usually easy to toggle material options to see which combination speaks to you.
Once you have narrowed your search to a handful of options, it is helpful to order samples and assemble a material board. Seeing and feeling your materials in person is crucial, as online images may misrepresent their discrete characteristics. Creating a material board is also a perfect opportunity to compare each material side-by-side to verify how well they complement each other or pinpoint a material that doesn’t fit. Look at your material board in bright daylight, indirect light, and shade to find any unexpected textures or undertones that may emerge.
Another great option is asking your builder to create a mock-up on-site. This will not only help you visualize all the materials together in a large format, but it will allow you to view the materials during different times of day and see how well they fit into the context of your property, landscape, and neighborhood.
Trust the Process and Enjoy the Journey
Exterior materials are very personal and can transform a house into a home. Good quality materials should remain a part of your home for decades, outlasting trends that come and go. This is not the time to “just get it done.” Slow down, reenergize, and give these decisions the attention they deserve. You only get one chance, so take your time and enjoy the process!
Kathryn Shelby and Jayme Ciacio are Project Managers at TKP Architects, an award-winning architecture firm based in Golden, Colorado. View TKP’s profile or contact TKP Architects at 303.278.8840.
Content for this article provided by TKP Architects.