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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Picking Paint Colors Can Be Tricky to the Eyes

Daily, thousands of gallons of paint are wasted because the color on the wall doesn’t look like the one that was chosen from a sample. When deciding what colors to pick for a home project, whether it is interior or exterior, can be tricky, and the root cause of wrong color choices is impatience. Quick decisions in paint colors are usually disappointing and can be very costly especially given the high cost of paint and the reduced capacity by most paint suppliers.

Color chips and paint images on smartphones can be very deceptive because these images are normally not viewed in the actual light of the application nor in the much larger space of the project. Lighting is very important. For example, a paint color for the outside of the home viewed in the confines of fluorescent lighting in a big-box store is totally different than natural sunlight. For the best results, take the color chip or sample to the actual site in its natural lighting. Typically, you will see a big difference.

Next, the overall size of the project matters because a blue, yellow, black, or gray tint paint may look fine a on chip, but after it is applied to a huge wall, it may become overwhelming. Normally, the rule for bolder colors is to go one to two shades lighter for larger areas. For the best results, by a sample lot of paint in a quart size or smaller, then apply it to the area being painted. Let it dry because wet paint looks very different than dry paint. Then make your mind up.

The type of paint is the next big factor when picking a paint color. Paints come in various finishes including flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. The sheen of the paint matters because the higher gloss of the finish the more it will pop in color. Typically, most color chips are a flat tone, but how they appear as a glossier paint may distort your expectations. Once again, be mindful if you want a higher gloss paint, you may want to tone the color down just a little, and if you are unsure, get a sample. You’d rather waste a quart of paint than 2 gallons worth.

The other factor which can affect your paint color is the texture of the wall. Smooth finish surfaces show imperfections if you are using a very light or dark paint. Plus, the gloss or sheen could make these imperfections pop out more. Walls and exterior surfaces which have some form of texture or woodgrain seem to tone down colors and make the blend of the color better. It is imperative that whatever texture you choose in your home construction project that it is done correctly, because it truly will affect how your paint looks on the surface.

How the paint is applied can affect the color. Let’s face it, everyone thinks they can be a painter. How hard is it to dab a brush or roller into paint and smear it on the wall? Most paint issues occur from poor application and people not knowing what they are doing. Experienced professional painters understand surface preparations, how to properly brush, roll, and blend the paint on the wall, and most importantly, they have the professional brushes and supplies that do the job much better than a cheap $4 paint brush. Throw away rollers and brushes seem like a great solution for $50 per-gallon paint, but they are not. A lot of paint color turns out disappointing because of streaking and splotching on the wall due to poor application, and not the paint itself.

Spouses, when your significant other is picking out paint colors, don’t rush them. Let them examine the paint chips closely, buy a sample to apply to the surface, and allow them the time really look at the paint until they are satisfied with the color. Rushing to buy paint on Saturday morning for a weekend project is a prescription for a poor color decision. Have some patience and go through the process of color selection for paint, and I guarantee you will save money and time in the end. Don’t forget a poor selection of paint colors will require a redo that no one wants.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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