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Thoughts on white houses?

johnny_outdoors
February 10, 2019

My wife has had her heart set on the clean, timeless look of a white house. We were planning on building on a private road, in which we had owned the only undeveloped lot with no other white houses in there. We just recently bought some property and are selling other lot, but at new place there are like 6 new houses all within a half a mile that are all white/farmhouse look. Would this effect your decision at all bordering property other new white houses, or branch out (house design is drastically different but same color)? I'm pretty indifferent, I like the craftsman look with lighter trim and some color. Thoughts?

Comments (46)

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    What color are the roofs?

  • johnny_outdoors

    All are black roofs with black/white trim details, some have either black or galvanized awnings. If I was going white I like the look of warmth that wooden posts and trim details bring to it to not look so sterile.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Go with white to make your wife happy (happy wife = happy life) and pretend you own the entire complex.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    White houses are very popular in various parts of the U.S., such as Washington, DC.

  • Susie .
    My town has been taken over by white houses. It’s only a matter time before they hit the saturation point and the pendulum swings the other way. If you are looking at the house color/style as one that is truly classic and timeless that’s one thing, but make sure this is not just a bandwagon effect and she will want to jump on the next big trend when this one has run its course. IMO a craftsman style home is more timeless. Maybe the architects will jump in with some helpful thoughts instead of trying to be funny.
  • Pinebaron

    White House +++ especially with black roof and trim. It always looks new and timeless. Use the best quality exterior paint (assuming paintable surfaces), at least two coats, three if you can afford it and you’ll have an exterior that will look a clean white for years years. Be aware the whitest white paint is not available off the shelf from virtually any paint supplier, they are all off white; we had BM add 1oz/quart of Titanium Dioxide to their exterior base white to get the whitest white and it looks stunning.



  • Paul Sr.

    Keep it white but no black windows which will date the house. You may want to think a slate metal roof if budget has room or else Corning asphalt in Terracott. And don’t forget to hire a good landscaper for the front yard!

  • MountainView
    We almost bought a lot that had the address of “1600 ” and I would have been very tempted to build a white house just so I could tell people I lived at “the white house at 1600”. But it would have stuck out like a sore thumb in the Colorado mountain town (probably wouldn’t have been approved by the Design Review Committee now that I think about it) and we found a different lot we like better.

    So, nothing useful to add except— if there are already white houses at least yours won’t stand out in a bad way. And if it is well designed for the neighborhood and your life then hopefully it will still stand out in a good way.
  • PRO
  • cpartist

    White houses show dirt more.

  • Rosefolly

    In our town we are not allowed to paint our house white. The building code requires earth tones. We remodeled an older house 20 years ago. At the time it was bright white with bright blue trim. It is now tan with green trim.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    In my town snow is an earth tone.

  • Mrs Pete

    Everyone else has a white house? So what? I'm from the country, and pretty much every farm house was white -- didn't mean they looked alike. I spent a few minutes on Google and found six white houses -- they don't look anything alike:


    A Craftsman painted white? That's not typical. Craftsman houses tend towards colors. Many in earthy colors.

    Keep it white but no black windows which will date the house.

    Totally agree. Not a trend I like. A brick house near us -- very traditional style -- just had its windows painted black. Looks awful.

    Keep it white but no black windows which will date the house.

    White houses show dirt more.

    Probably true, but my brick house could benefit from a good pressure wash right now too.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Do what you want. There are a ton of grey houses around here, even two across the street from me. There are whole new (and repainted) neighborhoods of grey. There are also whole neighborhoods of colonials and splits that used to be brick with white siding upstairs. Many are still, though maaaaaaany have now been painted, yes, grey. There are neighborhoods of white cottages. And all-brick. And now Craftsman-inspired, mostly grey. On my parents' lane, there were at one time 6 white houses and 3 brick, and my parents' 70s contemporary. One white one was torn down and is being replaced by...white. Most of the houses were built starting in 1929 through 1970, two rebuilds (tore down a white-painted brick and a white-sided) in the 90s, and you can tell. All trends come and go, just build. If your style is different than the others, but still white, it can be both cohesive and distinctive.

  • D E
    consider your climate too. I hot areas of the country you save money on cooling with a white house/white roof
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    You can save a energy with with a light colored roof in a hot sunny climate but its wishful thinking to assume the same is true of white walls.

    All I can say about white painted houses is its appropriate for Greek Revival houses and the color doesn't fade.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Well...if you're on Santorini, you're among friends...




  • D E
    res, if you've measured wall temps in hot climates you wouldn't say it's wishful thinking. I'm in a hot climate and I've tested this extensively. dark colored walls can easily get above 150 degrees in the summer, where white colored walls barely get above ambient temperature.
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    "...dark colored walls can easily get above 150 degrees in the summer.."


    Would this be the exterior face or the interior face of a wall...? Does insulation mean anything in your measurements? How about shading?

  • johnny_outdoors

    Why the hate for black windows?

  • PRO
    GreenDesigns

    Thinking that exterior color choices affect the interior is 1950's thinking. A properly insulated home can be solid black and have zero affect on indoor temperature. That goes for the roof too. Build 2x6 construction with external foam sheathing, and do the attic as conditioned space with foam at the roofline, and you can keep 1500 sq ft warm in winter with 2 space heaters. And a single 7500 BTU window unit in the summer. As long as you buy good windows and doors.

  • Mrs Pete

    I was thinking about this as I drove to pick my dog up from the groomer's shop -- and I tried to sum up the houses in my area. I'd estimate 40% of the houses are white ... 40% are brick ... 10% are mixed (for example, a split level with a brick lower and vinyl siding upper) ... and 10% are other colors.

    Why the hate for black windows?

    They're ugly, and they make the house look dark ... dark in an unattractive way. True of every single house? Well, of course not, but the few I see in person ... well, I can only assume the people are sorry they painted their windows.

  • Missi Smith

    Johnny - I love a White House with black windows! Do what you (well really your wife) love! everything can be painted down the road if you tire of it.

  • D E
    "Would this be the exterior face or the interior face of a wall...? Does insulation mean anything in your measurements? How about shading?"

    this is the exterior face. the interior of course will not get to that temp but if you calculate the flow across the insulation at 150 degrees with a 75 degree inside temp it's not insignificant. you also have the flow across uninsulated studs which is even more significant and finally, you are heating up the whole exterior of the house and houses store energy that flow across the walls at night when they should be cool.

    shading helps tremendously as a shaded wall does not get above ambient temp in my testing so a fully shaded wall can be any color.
  • D E
    "Thinking that exterior color choices affect the interior is 1950's thinking. A properly insulated home can be solid black and have zero affect on indoor temperature"


    this is a an uneducated opinion.
  • bpath Oh Sophie

    Really, I think black windows on a white house, or any color, is a matter of personal preference, and of execution. It can look great, or not.

  • PRO
    GreenDesigns

    No, that is REALITY. That just described the house my BIL built. He seriously runs 2 space heaters and a window unit because he ran out of money during the build. It's fine. Why do you think you can put an oven that gets to 500 degrees directly into wood cabinetry? Or touch the body of a range while it is operating. Insulation works. Exterior foam sheathing fixes the thermal bridge issue. Staggered 2x4 fixes it even more if you are in an extreme climate. Insulation is relatively cheap. And it saves money through the entire life of the build.

    Exterior or color of anything is irrelevant to anything but the exterior. Don't put black pavers on a patio if you want to go barefoot. But a black roof on a house is not an issue if it is built to modern insulation requirements and with modern technology.

  • D E
    this is not difficult to figure out. a black house in a hot climate will allow approximately 3x the BTU of a white wall across the insulation you don't super insulate houses in hot climates unless you just really want to burn money. let's say r19 insulation with whole wall r14 value- depending on the size of the house, it could take almost an additional ton of cooling just to evacuate the additional heat gain from the black colored walls.

    you can choose to spend money to superinsulate if you want but the black wall will always use more energy in the summer than the white wall.


    here in Texas where we get up to 12 hours of sunlight in the summer I have measured dark colored walls at 140 degrees at 9 am in the morning and the day is just getting started.
  • PRO
    GreenDesigns

    I keep forgetting that you are the square house person. No erasing bad ideas with that mentality. Last ditch effort: Read some Building Science. Emphasis on SCIENCE.


    https://buildingscience.com/

  • D E
    lol. screen name is green designs but doesn't understand the part house shape plays in energy efficiency. priceless
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Unlike roofs, walls don't receive maximum solar load during peak cooling nor does solar energy strike them for as many hours a day. And roofs don't have as many glazed openings. And walls are rarely painted dark matte colors.

    Additionally, half of the sun's light is visible and half is infrared. To put it simply, white surfaces reflect visible light, but absorb infrared. Black surfaces absorb both visible light and infrared.

    What would make an important difference in the energy efficiency of a painted exterior wall is paint that absorbs less infrared light.

    Measuring the maximum temperature of the surface of a wall in direct sunlight is not very useful and difficult to do accurately.

  • D E
    that's a myth perpetuated by people who haven't lived in hot climates.

    vertical surfaces get hammered with solar radiation especially in August and September, where the sun is lower in the sky but it's still extremely hot out.

    I have an uninsulated west facing wood exterior door(vertical) and have seen temps as high as 104 degrees! on the INSIDE of that door in the summer
  • robin0919

    Why does your wife want a white house? White shows dirt...etc....

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Someone should alert the ICC it got the insulation requirements all wrong.




  • Holly Stockley

    If you want a white house, build a white house. It will certainly be more classic than the very dark greys that are so popular right now. As to it getting "dirty." that's probably true of any color. I can see the mildew/moss on the North side of most older homes in my neighborhood that didn't get power-washed last fall whether they are white, yellow, blue, red... pretty much anything that isn't very dark or outright green already.

    As to the windows, I don't have any strong advice, other than to read through this blog post by Maria Killam. She makes some excellent points about the pros and cons, as well as why they look so good in all the pictures but might be disappointing in real life:

    https://www.mariakillam.com/black-windows/

  • Pinebaron

    Do what you want! I did; black windows and trim on white, love the contrast. What is this about white showing dirt? In the PNW we have auto exterior wash, they call it rain.

    A couple of pics while our home was being built last year. Talking of black, the interior of our entry door is the only black door/window on the inside, all other interior door and window trim is white.







    johnny_outdoors thanked Pinebaron
  • Nicole R Dsp
    Black windows are AWESOME to look through when there are multiple windows. Doesn’t obstruct the view as much. But the aside, do what you love, not what you think others will be concerned with. You are paying for it!
  • dan1888

    If it were me I'd want to help my wife progress beyond white to a realm of new experiences in colors. But this would have come up long ago so I'm randomly speculating to no real end.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Lions and tigers and black framed windows! Oh my!

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    The best kinds of windows are those that one can see through...




  • zippity1

    growing up in the late 50's early 60's our farmhouse was cream with a green roof....right now our 50 year old home is unrelieved white with a green roof...our immediate neighborhood is filling up with white houses, but so far they dont look repetitive houses are built on concrete slabs in this area so we built up 20 inches and covered that with brick...that really helps with the dirty lower section if i were to build again, i'd use rock on the bottom section as if the house had a rock "foundation" instead of brick

  • doc5md

    Spinone!! :)

  • Elaine Ricci
    If you do the white house, give it a red door for a welcoming look.
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Yes, Lucy the Splnone. Big girl, around 80 pounds. Sweetheart.

  • johnny_outdoors


    I'm just a hillbilly, so what do the fancy people think about the grey roof look? Does this house offer itself up to having a dated look as some have mentioned?

  • Blythe K

    My white home has never shown dirt but then again I have a thick lawn. Nothing stays clean forever and a pressure washer goes a long way... black and white are beautiful and timeless.

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