Exterior Corner Boards: To paint, or not to paint?

First, what is a corner board? Here’s a picture of a house we painted with plenty of corner board examples:

Corner boards are the vertical boards that are butted together to form the outside corner of a wood frame building. In this picture, the corner boards are painted the trim color (Pure White – Sherwin Williams 7005).

Looking at other houses in your neighborhood for corner board ideas is a great idea place to start. But keep in mind that when houses are first built (especially in subdivisions), the corner boards are usually left the main color of the house. This is not necessarily because it looks better, rather it is easier and less expensive for the new construction painter.

My general rule of thumb is: Paint it how it was meant to be painted. This means that if the piece of wood is a trim piece, it will probably look best painted a trim color.

We typically prefer to be consistent with paint colors based on the material. For example, trim pieces of wood (corner boards, windows, door casings, belly boards, fascia boards, etc) be painted the trim color, all lap siding be painted the main color, and shake siding or accent siding be painted a different color.

However, it is also important to balance your colors. To evaluate the color balance, stand facing the front of your house, far enough away that you can see all the front. If your home does not have much trim on the front, it would probably be best to paint the corners to add more contrast from the main body color. This will ensure your home won’t look like a blob of one color.

We painted this house in Sherwood a couple of years ago, and I think it has great color balance.

If the corner boards were not painted white, the dark grey would be too much on this larger house. The black shutters also add appropriate contrast, as it would be too much white if the were painted the trim color.

However, there are cases where a house looks best when the corners are painted the same as the main color. If your home has a lot of opportunity for the trim color, it may look best to blend the corners by painting them the main body color. Like this house:

On this house, the corner boards blend in. Can you see them on the upper portion above the roof?

This picture is also a good example of color balance. Not painting the corner boards the trim color keeps the overall scheme balanced between the trim color and body color.

Here is another house where it looks better not having the corners painted like the trim:

Both houses have decorative beams and wood trim around the entrance, windows, two garage doors, a belly board and fascia boards – LOTS of trim. Not painting the corners white was a good choice.

I hope these photos are helpful in making your decision about what color to paint your corner boards. In the end, balancing contrasting colors with your house’s architecture is the main goal.