Dark colours make statement on Grand Design NZ homes

  • 06/11/2020
  • Sponsored by - Resene
This home featured on episode 8 of Grand Designs. It's a rooftop apartment in Dunedin and the owners used Resene paints.
This home featured on episode 8 of Grand Designs. It's a rooftop apartment in Dunedin and the owners used Resene paints. Photo credit: Supplied by Grand Designs NZ

Neutral colours are popular for home exteriors but what if you want to make a bit more of a statement?

Dark colours and exposed timber cladding are both favoured by architects for their dramatic beauty, but have special requirements to protect them from the harsh New Zealand sun.

On the dark side

From velvety blacks to shadowy charcoals, dark and moody colours are a hallmark of some of our most striking architecturally designed homes. Dark paints and stains are at once both timeless and modern, dramatic and cool, and can be used to make a home blend in - or stand out – in its environment.

But many of us are put off using dark colours because they attract more of the sun’s heat, which can damage the surface underneath. Resene Technical Services Manager Jeff Jurlina says applying dark paint to timber substrates in particularly causes heat build-up on the surface and can lead to dimensional changes, such as 'cupping' or 'warping'.

"Substrates such as fibre cement and linea weatherboards are more heat stable and do not undergo any significant dimensional changes at a higher temperature," he says.

One way to lessen the heat related stress on your timber is to use a Resene CoolColour paint or stain. Created by replacing the standard carbon black pigment with a unique pigment that allows much of the infrared portion of the sun’s energy to be reflected, CoolColours look like normal colours but perform better under the sun’s rays.

"Application of a Resene CoolColour will reflect more heat than the same colour made using non-cool pigmentation and reduce heat related stress on the substrate," Jurlina says. It’s important to note that using a CoolColour will not make the surface cool to the touch or necessarily mean the interior temperature of the home is reduced.

Jurlina says that standard surface prep is required when using dark colours, but to maximise heat reflection he recommends application of an appropriate cool primer prior to application of two coats of your chosen CoolColour on top. But there is still a significant cooling effect even if a cool primer is not applied. The CoolColour technology is available in a wide range of Resene colours and products from gloss, low sheen and enamel paints to stains and other specialist products like Walk-On Paving and Flooring Paint. It’s always best to check with Resene staff which product is right for your project before you purchase it.  

If you don’t want to go for a full black-on-black scheme but want to highlight particular features, choosing some parts of your home to paint or stain darker is a good option. Resene Colour Consultant Brooke Calvert says some of the most popular dark hues for roofs are Resene All Black, Resene Element, Resene Noir and Resene Nocturnal, while shades such as Resene Nero, Resene Element, Resene Baltic Sea, Resene Foundry, Resene Fuscous Grey are often chosen for weatherboards or other cladding. All are available in Resene CoolColour, although a change in tone or product may be required to achieve a Resene CoolColour effect.

This Feng Shui styled home in Whangarei from Grand Designs NZ also featured Resene paints.
This Feng Shui styled home in Whangarei from Grand Designs NZ also featured Resene paints. Photo credit: Supplied by Grand Designs NZ

Other ways to protect your timber

Another popular way to amplify the architectural beauty of a home’s exterior is to highlight the natural grain of its timber features. But while it might be tempting to leave exterior timber unfinished or with a clear finish applied, that leaves it exposed to damage. "There is no water white clear stain for exterior timber or ply," Jurlina says. "Ultra violet blockers are added to the stain to stop UV damage of the timber or stain interface. The most cost effective and commonly used UV absorbers are chemicals called transparent iron oxides are all are coloured."

For the most natural look possible, choose a stain close to the original colour of the timber. Calvert says: "The Resene Woodsman range of timber stains is a great way to enhance and protect the life of your timber, with a wide range of different colours to choose from."

Over time the stain will slowly wear away so it needs to be reapplied every 2 – 3 years, which is a much better option than replacing boards that have deteriorated thanks to the elements. Think of it as a bit like sunscreen for your timber.

This article was created for Resene