Matching Paint Colors

Matching paint colors can be overwhelming and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be! To match paint colors correctly, here are a few tips you should know:

  1. Remember that color is generated by light. Sunlight will produce different color variations than artificial light.
  2. The ‘gloss’ of the paint can make it more difficult in matching custom paint colors, and matching old paint colors is even more difficult. Flat colors are easier to match than gloss colors. High gloss paints are the most difficult to match.
  3. Before going to the store to match your paint colors, wash the walls or item to be painted with soap and water. Paint should always be applied to a clean, dry surface, as the color will be different on a dirty surface, and your paint job won’t be as good or last as long.
  4. Then you’re ready to go to the paint store. Be sure to ask for several samples that match or are close to your wall color, and take them home and hold them to your walls or item in different areas on a sunny day, or check them throughout various times of the day. You might want to compare them to your area colors, fabrics, furnishings, etc. to make sure they match as you want them to.
  5. Remember that the paint color in different brands will not be the same. Get samples from each brand to test, making sure that they’re labeled so you can identify them. Try to choose a color on the wall that gets indirect sunlight, not in direct light or a beam of light.
  6. Remember that matching old paint colors can be difficult, because the color will change over time, so using the same paint color later on for touch-up, etc. will not match it now.
  7. Many of your local stores now have a “spectrophotometer”, which measures color electronically. It will calculate the exact amount of all of the color pigments to match your chosen color exactly. They say this method works 90% of the time. Testing the paint on small areas at different times of the day will help eliminate this problem. This method doesn’t work as well with metallic surfaces, and can be difficult with things that have a heavy texture, like carpeting.
  8. Taking a photo of the color is tricky, because the colors aren’t precise, and cameras are designed to enhance images, which isn’t always accurate. Pages from a magazine are also hard, because colors can come through from the back of the page.
  9. If you need a sample from an item that’s too big to bring in for matching paint colors, and can’t get a ‘hidden’ sample from it, there’s also a handheld tool similar to the spectrophotometer that you can buy, which will give you the closest matching paint color to your selection. It won’t be “custom” paint colors, but it’s the next best thing to the professional spectrophotometer at the store; and since it’s an existing paint color, it will be easy to find if you need it later on.
  10. Remember that sometimes a small area of a color may look great, but it may be too much on a full wall or used for the entire space. Keep this in mind when you’re matching paint colors or custom paint colors.

Custom paint colors can be tricky, but if you keep the above tips in mind when you’re matching paint colors, you’ll have a lot more success. And remember that it’s harder matching old paint colors. Just follow the tips above, and you should be much happier with the results!

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