Do You Know the Hottest Exterior Trend of 2024?

Combine this cutting-edge trend with premium coatings to wow homeowners

Black exteriors are a new exterior paint trend that has been growing rapidly in popularity over the last couple years. Make sure your business is prepared by offering homeowners premium coatings with durability that lasts and thoughtful insight into the implications of this trend.

Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing at Sherwin-Williams, says that during the annual Sherwin-Williams analysis of color data, it became clear that black and very dark colors have started dominating in popularity among homeowners.

“We have seen black trend way to the top of lists of the most popular exterior colors,” Wadden says. “Tricorn Black (SW 6258) has always, from a paint perspective, been a top color—usually somewhere in the top 50. We know people paint their front doors or their shutters black. But we can tell from gallons sold that homeowners are now painting their entire exteriors black. Among contemporary exteriors, we’re seeing a high-contrast trend take shape: people are either painting their houses white or dark. White houses are nothing new, but dark houses are a very modern trend that painters need to be aware of.”

Colors such as Tricorn Black, Iron Ore (SW 7069), and Urbane Bronze (SW 7048) were all among the top 10 most-purchased colors for exterior paint. The trend is even stronger among stain colors, where Tricorn Black was #1 and Charwood (SW 3542)—the second-best selling—sold significantly more than the next most popular stain color. (You can order free chips of these colors and more at

Going Dark

While black exteriors have been around for roughly a decade, it only started to become mainstream in North America following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were on the tail end of the Scandinavian influence—which was really prevalent for the last decade,” Wadden says. “Homeowners were painting outbuildings—adjacent or attached structures like a shed or a garage—with these dark, rich colors, especially in forested areas. This trend—which began in Europe—came over the pond to North America really quickly, and then it didn’t stop with outbuildings. The house itself is now being painted black or very dark.”

She believes this trend is here to stay, based both on gallons sold and on related industries experiencing similar trends.

“Our partners in the window coating space have also been seeing upwards of 40% of their windows sold are dark colors, even black,” Wadden says. “It’s not slowing down.”

Of course, using black or very dark colors as the primary exterior color can have major implications, particularly when it comes to heat and temperature control. Surprisingly, the data from Sherwin-Williams found that these dark colors were equally popular in hot climates like the Southwest as in cold climates.

“If a homeowner lives in Arizona and wants a black house, you need to walk them through the implications of that,” Wadden says. “There is a risk that this could increase their energy costs, because their home will be absorbing all that heat.”

It’s not just a little bit of extra heat. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that dark-colored home exteriors absorb 70-90% of the radiant energy from the sun that strikes the home’s surface. While that might be convenient in cold climates like the Midwest or the Northeast, a homeowner in the South should be prepared for a larger air conditioning bill.

“To address that, you could recommend a color that’s dark but not fully black, such as Charcoal (SW 3063),” Wadden suggests. “You may also want to recommend a paint that can withstand extreme temperatures and offers UV protection, such as Latitude™ Exterior Acrylic or Emerald® Rain Refresh™.”

But using dark colors can also have implications for other aspects of the painting process, including trim color and sheen selection. Wadden says the rise in black exteriors correlates with a larger color shift toward monochromatic, high-contrast exteriors.

“In the past, you would paint a dark color, and it would almost always be paired with white trim, facia board, and gutters,” Wadden says. “Don’t just assume the trim will be white these days. We’re seeing dark colors sell even for trim. Many homeowners want a monochromatic palette, so they’re doing dark wood siding and dark trim as well. A flat sheen also pairs great with this. A reflective black just shines in your eyes, but a flat sheen absorbs the light into it and creates a gorgeous sense of depth. When done well, all of this comes together to create a really sophisticated look.”

Premium Application

Finally, Wadden notes that the biggest issue many homeowners will encounter when using dark paint on the exterior is color retention. Darker colors absorb more heat and thus their colors fade more quickly from sun exposure. To prevent this from happening, painters should strongly recommend homeowners use a premium coating.

For a truly cutting-edge look that will last, combine these color insights with the innovative Rain Refresh technology available in WoodScapes® Rain Refresh™ and Emerald Rain Refresh. The award-winning, innovative Rain Refresh technology allows the paint to self-clean by shedding dirt upon contact with rain or water. This allows the house to maintain a consistently clean, fresh look with minimal maintenance, all the better to show off the trendy new style.

For painters looking for an acrylic latex paint, Emerald Rain Refresh offers best-in-class overall performance among exterior paints, with exceptional durability and hide, self-priming functionality to save your team time on the job site, and excellent resistance to blistering, peeling, chalking, and dirt pickup.

Painters can also take advantage of the self-cleaning Rain Refresh technology for stains with WoodScapes Rain Refresh. WoodScapes Rain Refresh adheres easily to surfaces, resists peeling, blocks wood tannin bleed (preventing discoloration), and can be applied in temperatures as low as 35° F (2° C).

Josh Cooley, owner of Color Coated Painting LLC in Olympia, Washington, has used both Emerald Rain Refresh and WoodScapes Rain Refresh and says he and his customers have been impressed by the brand’s performance and durability.

“Four years ago, we used Emerald Rain Refresh to paint a house out on the water on Steamboat Island, and it still looks brand new to this day,” Cooley says. “My team did a phenomenal paint job, but Sherwin-William did an equally phenomenal job with these products. If this paint can hold up for years against everything the Puget Sound can throw at it—the saltwater, the winds, the trees, the dirt and debris—and it looks like it did on Day 1, then that’s a product my business can stand behind.”

When talking through the exterior paint specs, remind the homeowner that premium paints—like Emerald Rain Refresh and WoodScapes Rain Refresh—are worth the investment. In addition to the self-cleaning technology and quality finish, these paints will retain their color for longer and perform better.

“There’s a reason my business only uses Sherwin-Williams coatings, and it’s because of that premium quality,” Cooley says. “I know I can trust these products. In fact, when a customer chooses a premium option like Emerald or WoodScapes Rain Refresh, I personally stamp a 5-8 year warranty on the jobs for our customers, because that’s how much I trust the product. I know it’ll outperform anything else on the market right now.” 


Dark houses might be a relatively new trend, but Wadden says she expects it to stick around. And for painters who know how to tackle these trendy projects—prepared with premium products and knowledge of how to handle the color implications—that presents an exciting new opportunity.

“I don’t see this going away anytime soon,” Wadden says. “This trend is taking exteriors to a whole new level.”