Q: Please help me, Tim! I’m trying to select a new color for the outside of my house. Looking at samples on a brochure, I’m frozen and unable to make a decision. I don’t want to make a mistake. Please share a few tips that can relieve my anxiety like ice cream satisfies my sweet tooth. — Deb M., Turtle Lake, N.D.

A: You’re not alone. Color selection stymies lots of people, including me! The ability to visualize different and complementary colors over large areas, like the outside of a home, is a gift. Treasure it if you have it.

The anxiety surrounding a decision like this is real. You don't want your house to look ugly to others. You may not have the money to correct a color mistake. You need to get it right the first time.

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I'll share the same advice I gave my customers years ago. Get in your car and drive around through neighborhoods looking for houses that look like yours and that have a color scheme that you really like. This can now be done sitting in your living room looking at hundreds of house listings on real estate sites. You can also use different social media websites that curate millions of photos of houses.

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Once you locate a few colors you like, use the color chip samples from paint stores to get close to the colors that excite you. Purchase a small sample can and paint part of your house with it. Be sure to wash this part of the house with soap and water before applying the paint.

Colors can fool you. A color that looks great on a small chip may appear much darker when it dries on a larger area. Paint stores can reduce the color saturation to reduce the boldness of the color by adding less of the pigment to the base.

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If your roof makes up lots of what you see when you view your home from the street, make sure the color of the roof complements the house colors. The same is true for windows that come with a factory color that can’t be changed.

The key to eliminating your anxiety is selecting colors that make you feel good. Most people have certain colors that create a feeling of happiness. For me, it happens to be bright blues, reds and some greens.

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I also recommend that once you feel you have the right colors, remember you can paint the trim a different color than the main body of the house. I recommend you paint part of one side of the house. Stand back and look at it at different times of day to ensure you really feel good about what it will look like when complete.

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Don't be afraid to have three or four colors on display at your home. The last Queen Anne Victorian house I built for my family had four colors, plus a natural wood-stained soffit. The wood siding was a mild butter yellow, and the fascia boards and door and window trim were a lighter forest green. The windows were a dusty beige, and the front door was a bold scarlet. My wife selected the color scheme, and we received lots of compliments about it.

Q: Tim, I want your opinion. Is it a good idea to cover my outdoor AC compressor unit in the winter? -- Joseph D., Pingree Grove, Ill.

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A: This is a question that Joe submitted to the Ask Tim page on my website while his AC unit was working hard in the first few weeks of July. He was looking ahead, and that’s a very good idea. It’s a valid question that I receive quite often. It’s also part of a deeply disturbing trend I’m witnessing.

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Here's how I answered Joe: "When you opened up and read the owner's manual about this, what was the manufacturer's recommendation?"

Does my answer make sense to you? After all, Joe wanted my opinion.

Joe and I had another brief exchange and my last message to him was: "My opinion doesn't matter. I don't support the warranty. There's only one source for the correct answer: the manufacturer."

All of your questions about what to do with a product, how to care for the product, how to install the product, etc., should be answered by the company that made the product. Start taking the time to read the full label on products. Invest the time to read an owner's manual. It will pay off in spades.

It's foolhardy on your part to follow the advice of some invisible person online that will never come to your home to install a new product when their advice falls flat.

Subscribe to Tim’s free newsletter and listen to his new podcasts. Go to AsktheBuilder.com.

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