Color Your Building

March 23, 2009
Color can create a favorable impression for building occupants, so the correct color is important

No change is more economical or more dramatic than the application of a new coat of paint to the exterior or interior of a building. A building’s exterior color speaks to the viewer about what to expect upon entering that building. The color inside a building can make a worker more productive, a retail space more inviting, or a business environment more relaxing. Color can create a favorable impression for building occupants, so the correct color or color combination is key.

Consider Existing or Permanent Elements
With interior spaces, consider existing carpet, furniture, and window treatments. Unless it’s your intention, the color you choose should not distract occupants. Ideally, paint colors will complement existing materials and create a mood that matches the facility’s purpose. Paint color can blend with existing materials in monochromatic combinations for a background that doesn’t compete, or it can work with accents or opposite colors to create excitement for retail spaces.

When choosing exterior colors, one needs to consider if there is stone, brick, metal, window trim, visible roof colors, or any other permanent color that could affect the final color scheme. Existing elements can be accented or downplayed, depending on your needs. Architectural features can be highlighted to give character to a building by painting them a different hue from the surrounding areas. Use a darker, lighter, or brighter complementary color to play up these features. On the flip side, there may be unsightly, awkward, or generally uninteresting elements on a building’s exterior that can be minimized by painting them in the same color as their surroundings to make them “go away.”

Painting Problem: Roller Marks

Have you dealt with roller marks – those undesirable, stipple-texture patterns left by a paint roller? Roller marks are typically caused by using the incorrect roller cover with an excessive nap length, overloading the roller with paint, failing to spread the paint uniformly, or painting over a slick surface without proper priming.

To avoid these marks, make sure you use the correct roller cover, and make sure the roller is rolling, not sliding. Begin with an upward zigzag stroke in an “M” or “W” pattern, and fill the pattern with parallel strokes without removing the roller from the surface. Also, remember that priming is essential for better adhesion, sheen uniformity, mildew control, and durability.

Use Color to Tell a Story
Color can set the mood. With the right paint choices, a reception area will invite clients and visitors into your facility. Calm, cool colors, such as soft blues and blue greens, are ideal for spas and healthcare offices; warm, inviting colors, like soft golds and peaches, are perfect for working environments. The end use of the space will dictate its color direction.

For an exterior, using a color from a company’s logo can make it memorable to viewers. Picking a bright, active color, such as red, calls attention to a building and makes it easy to distinguish from surrounding buildings. On the other hand, too much of a bright color can also make it an eyesore, so use it deliberately and carefully. Usually, exteriors incorporate warm colors like those found in nature, such as stone browns, beiges, tans, brick reds, and terra cottas. Use opposite colors (cool blues and greens) for accents, trim, and doors, or to accent architectural features.

Be mindful of the use of your building when choosing paint colors. Buildings that communicate the feel of industrial elements can utilize the gray and clay colors that give it a strong, metal-influenced look. Restaurants and retail spaces require palettes that complement the design of the building, such as historic colors on a Victorian-period building or current fashion colors for boutiques.

Patricia Verlodt is the color stylist at Columbus, OH-based Color Guild.

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