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How to Choose White

If Your Home is Brick, Cloud White is NOT the Best Trim Colour!

By 06/08/2011July 5th, 202135 Comments

If your house exterior is brick, Benjamin Moore Cloud White is NOT the right trim colour. But here are a few trim colours that do work well with a brick exterior.

Photos by Maria Killam

For the record, this is not the first post I’ve written about the best exterior trim colours NOT being Cloud white.

BM Cloud White cannot possibly be a go-to white for the exterior of any home and certainly not brick homes. Like all the wonderful homes in Toronto (where I’m on a mini-vacation this week). Here is my take on the trim colours that do work well with a brick exterior.

But first, here’s one place where it might work… In this gray painted brick home (above), an off-white trim like Cloud White would actually be perfectly fine because gray and white are great together.  But overall, white is way too stark looking if your brick is rusty or more earthy (and unpainted).

Here are some examples of good (and not so good) trim colours on brick exteriors.


I adore black trim with orange brick but not without a healthy dose of another light coloured trim — otherwise it looks too harsh and starts looking very Halloween. Eek!

Rather instead, the above home with charcoal trim, BM Kendall Charcoal HC-166, is much softer than the all-black trim and casings of the house below:


If the grout in the above brick home was high contrasting and light, the all black trim would look much better.


Here’s a closer view of another  house with charcoal trim.



And here is another house with white trim that is way too stark for the house (shown below). The house, although pretty, would look even better with creamy trim like Benjamin Moore Lancaster Whitish HC-174 or Ashwood OC-47 instead of a bright white.



Here is a brick exterior with eggplant trim (BM Super Nova CC-990). These colours are my best guess as I snapped these photos on the fly without a fan deck.


If you look closely, this window trim has a pink undertone. I’m showing this because it relates to the pink brick so it actually works. A gray brown like BM Kingsport Gray HC-86 or BM Fairview Taupe HC-85 would also look good as a trim colour on this brick home.


In general, I prefer green trim colour over blue trim with orange brick. Green usually looks better and more organic. Here is a great comparison of 2 different greens. The one on the right (BM Cushing Green HC-125) is much bluer than the left side.


This sage green trim colour (BM High Park CC-620) looks like a colour from the 80s. But in a city full of brick homes, it works. It’s when it is the only colour on an office or apartment building like the Rogers building in downtown Toronto that it screams “I was built in 1985.”


If the brick on your house exterior is not rust or red, then you should consider the existing tones in the brick when choosing your trim colour, like in this home (above).


This house is obviously not brick but I took a picture because it was so pretty and obviously totally on trend right now – off-white exterior with black windows. Is this new trend taking over your neigbourhood too?


If your house is primarily brick, what colour is your trim? I’d love to know how you choose the trim colour too!


If you would like your Exterior to fill you with happiness every time you see it, contact me.

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  • Design Elements says:

    wonderful! love learning something new…thanks, Maria. i like the title a lot…

  • Kelly DuByne says:

    I love to do something a little unexpected with paint trim-I believe white is often used as a "safe" trim choice. A home can be so striking with the darker trim like many of the pictures you showed. Love them!

  • Kristie at The says:

    Great info on exterior trim colors, Maria! Especially like those charcoal colors with the brick. I have a stone home (grays and browns) and went with Bittersweet Chocolate for the trim – love it!

  • Marlo says:

    I'm so glad you wrote this post. There is no information out there for painting trims on brick homes. My house is orange brick with a pink undertone with a mix of gray stone. Can you believe the windows have no trim other than the stone window sill? The window frames and grilles are white vinyl and they are stark against the brick – exactly as you described. The only thing I can paint are the front doors and garage doors which I haven't done yet because I think gray doors would look heavy if the windows are all white. Why don't builders hire colour experts?

  • Hannah says:

    I just did a brick house that was a light colored yellow/orangey beige brick and I used Deep Navy 2061-10 and OC-38 Acadia white for trim colors. It really looked clean and modern against the yellow/light orangey beige brick.

  • Lauren says:

    Our house is an orange brick colonial with white trim and greeny-black shutters similar to the "Home Alone" house. I have always thought the trim was too stark (looks closest to decorators white). But I didn't change the trim color because I wasn't sure what would look historically correct. It seems that other colonials have the same white/black scheme. Maybe we should consider HC-174 as a less stark white. Thank you for your post!

  • pve design says:

    My home is white stucco and we are getting all new gutters, roof and I chose "tuxedo gray" which I think will look very striking and chic. Our planters are also a zinc and I plan to paint the doors a deep slate blue.
    Could I have your blessing?

  • Diana says:

    I think this must be regional. We live in the deep south and just got back from a vacation to Victoria, BC. I immediately noticed two things as we were walking around the residential areas: 1) the use of colored trim on nearly every house and 2) the completely different landscaping style. While colored trim is used here on Victorians, you rarely see it elsewhere.

    We've had three brick houses and two of them have had white trim. With the white trim, one house was classic red brick and the other was a brown-gray brick. The house with a pinky-beige brick needed painting and I chose a natural color trim with dark slate blue shutters.

    Of course, I think another regional difference is that the houses you featured don't have shutters (excepting the first one, for which they should be removed). It's rare to see a house without shutters here – a vestige, I think, of their critical importance in battling heat before air conditioning. When you can get dramatic color through shutters, trim is less important.

  • Wendi @ Classic Chic Home says:

    I enjoyed reading your suggestions on trim colours. I love brick houses! Homes are covered in siding for the most part here in Alberta. We need to take into consideration the undertones in our siding colour, as well as the colour of the roof, but I believe the basic principles still apply.
    Great post!

  • Naturally Carol says:

    Hi Maria..a lovely look at all those georgeous Toronto houses..they have quite a unique look to the area don't they! My house is terribly trimmed in a not quite Federation green and a creamy yellow with bits of brick coloured trim as well..yuk! Here's to ivory and dove grey down the track.

  • My heavens you really do live your profession, don't you 🙂 What a fantastic post and so relevant to so many. I admire that you see a color lesson in absolutely everything, and on vacation, no less. You are my color hero, Maria. Really 🙂

  • Emom says:

    Very interesting…smiles.

  • Anonymous says:

    Just this weekend my sister was lamenting the difficulty of choosing trim and side paint for her dark brick house. I mailed your post as soon as I opened it and even before reading it. Thank you!

  • Intrigue and Inspire says:

    This is very great information on trim for brick houses. I like contrast in a house but I think that people often specify too stark a white for their homes.

  • Jeannine 520 says:

    Very helpful Maria, thank you! I'm wondering if it makes a difference if the house has a northern exposure vs. a southern exposure? Would one go for a little more contrast/starkness if the house faces north and is only in a drab sort of light?

  • Donna Frasca ♋ says:

    I had a brick house when I lived in PGH (built in 1926) and it had a medium tone brown trim. Was it the liveliest color? No. But it was color appropriate to the age of the house and it looked cozy.

    You have to be really careful when choosing white for a brick house. Over the years you may get that white, chalky residue the seeps down the side onto the brick. I try to avoid white on brick homes for that reason. Coordinating with grout color is a good way to go.

    I miss my brick home – they have so much character!

  • Francine Gardner says:

    I live in a stone and clapboard house painted white with black doors and shutters. This was the most interesting post as it is often a challenge to specify the "perfect" color for our clients' houses.In New england, most houses being clapboard, the house and trim colors are critical.
    thanks for the great illustrations. francine

  • Luciane at says:

    This is great post, but I need to say that I actually love the contrast of white trim with the red/terracota brick. I think it looks traditional and elegant. Maybe not totally white, but I prefer seeing light than darker. I like the contrast. 🙂

    Have a great day!


    Luciane at

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this post. I have a reddish-orange brick mid-century home and have been stumped about trim colors. The people across the street from us have the same color brick and painted their trim a bright shade of "hospital scrubs" green. I feel assaulted every time I walk out my front door. I hesitate to paint my off white trim for fear it may look like a carnival on our street!
    [email protected]

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi PVE,
    I think that sounds wonderful as long as the gray is more 'neutral' than blue.

    Hi Jennine,
    I don't think the light outside would make me do a trim that's more stark. The house with the white trim actually doesn't look nearly as stark here in the photo as it did in person. Light or no, I don't think I would introduce a stark white trim with earthy brick in the rusty tones. If your brick is lighter like some of the examples I've shown then it's okay.


  • Nicole says:

    Thanks for another great post Maria. My house is all brick and pretty close to a terracotta colour. Everything that isn't brick is stark white. Shutters, eves trough, vinyl windows everything. I can't afford to replace my windows and eves trough…what do you suggest?

  • Maria Killam says:

    HI Nicole,
    I would suggest painting the shutters black that will make a huge difference,

  • Crystal says:

    I just bought home with bright red brick that has a 2 car garage door way out front. You almost see the garage before you see the house. (there is a huge tree that shades most of the house) What color would you suggest in this situation? Currently the garage door and trim are all painted an ivory and it looks so dingy.
    Please advise!

  • Kara says:

    We just bought a 1926 brick, Craftsman style house. I am in desparate need of help! The trim is currently painted an ivory but it is chipping. It looks quite nice, but my issue is that we are replacing all the windows. We have our eyes set on a window that is “architectural bronze” and are just wondering how all the contrast will look. The brick is a very red brick.

  • olivia says:

    Maria, could you please tell me the names of the accent colors on the house with the charcoal trim? This could end a rather heated discussion. Thank you in advance

  • Kenny says:

    Maria, you seem to be really good with brick colors. We are building a home and I was hoping to get your opinion on a brick. We are building a craftsman home main color is woodcliff lake and the trim is swiss coffe. The bricks were considering are Old Keystone or smokey mtn. Any ideas on those or maybe another suggestion?

  • megeranski says:

    Exteriors are just hard, imho. I had a great Bungalow (the real kind), took me 3 years and 5 visits to paint store to find colors. But it looked terrific. 🙂

    in THIS house, (extremely bright orange and weird (very early 60’s) hope it won’t take as long. Oy

    Great post, Maria!

  • WJC says:

    I have a brick home with white trim that I am renovating. The white trim does look garish to me

    I agree with your article. Do you think the points you make in the article stand as true today as they did in 2011?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Depending on the colour, most brick is earthy and white will look too stark with it. Even though we are in the ‘white trend’ the proper application of the colour white remains the same. Maria

  • Cathy says:

    Hi Maria,
    I like the blog …. I can’t read the font color on my apple iPad! Has anyone else had that trouble or brought the to attention?

  • Kenda Shafer says:

    This was good information, since we have a brick home and will be painting the trim.
    Thank you

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi! Could cloud possibly white work on interior walls with a brick fireplace? If not, what warm and cheerful neutral could? Thank you!

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