How to Find Exterior Paint Color Codes

by Stevie Donald

If you need to touch up the exterior paint on your home, or need to match the code or formula, you have a problem if you don't have any leftover paint to refer to. Not only do you have to find the color formula, but also for a perfect match, you'll want to use the same sheen as well. In the "old days," your painter or paint store could custom-match the color, but this could take many attempts and several days. Nowadays, computers have made it much easier to find exterior paint color codes.

Look for old cans of paint in the garage, basement or attic. Previous owners often leave old paint cans behind. The paint may not be usable, but a professional paint store will be able to match the color. If the label is still on the can, bring it to the original paint store. A paint consultant there should be able to find the exact formula.

Ask the builder. Most home builders keep records of all the paint colors they used on their homes. If you can't contact the builder, call local paint companies that work with builders and professional painters. You may get lucky. Paint stores typically keep a record of all paints and formulas they sell to commercial accounts.

Pry a painted piece of trim from your home. Choose a piece that has not been exposed to sun because it will not have faded from the true color. Look for trim on the north side of the house or under the eaves. If you can scrape a large piece of loose paint off, that would work too.

Bring the piece of trim or paint chip--at least 1 inch square--to a paint store. Almost every store can computer-match the color and sheen of the paint and then mix your new paint in the same formula.


  • check You will have much better luck going to a professional paint store, not a hardware or home-improvement store. Professional stores match color formulas all the time and typically have a wider range of paints to choose from.
  • check The larger and cleaner the sample you bring in, the easier it will be able to match it perfectly.

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About the Author

Stevie Donald has been an online writer since 2004, producing articles for numerous websites and magazines. Her writing chops include three books on dog care and training, one of which won a prestigious national award in 2003. Donald has also been a painting contractor since 1979, painting interiors and exteriors.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera paint chart image by Christopher Hall from