Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why does my new color look different on my walls than it did in the store?

I'm asked this question a lot.  As if it isn't hard enough to pick colors!

You wouldn't believe the effect that light has on the way a color looks!

I'll be the first to admit that I'm HORRIBLE at picking colors.  There are professional decorators and designers that know what they are doing.  Depending on the size and scope of your project, hiring one of these professionals may be a wise investment.

If you decide to do it yourself, here are some tips I give my customers:

1:  Go to the paint store (or home improvement center) and look for chips with the color(s) you like.
2:  Take those color chips home and look at them in the area to be painted.  Be sure to look at them both in daylight and at night, with the lights on.

You may notice that the colors look different at home than they did in the store.  You have to remember that most retail stores have fluorescent lighting.  This is almost always a different light than you have at home.  Not only that, there are different COLORS of fluorescent lighting!  Maybe you have incandescent bulbs, maybe you have CFLs. Either way, they will look different.  Even natural light will affect the way the colors look.  Now, onto the next step.

3:  Decide which (if any) of the chips you think you like and take them back to the store where you picked them up.

Many stores have "sample quarts" available for purchase.  These are low cost (about $5) and low quality paint, but the important thing is the color at this point.  The reason you take it to the store where the chip came from is that most of these stores will only tint the quarts with their formulas.  They generally can't and won't custom match a quart for a $5 sample, it just doesn't make good business sense.

4:  Gather the quart or quarts of your possible color choices and take them home.  Don't forget to gather a brush or two to apply the paint!

5:  With a brush, apply 1-2 coats of the sample paints on your walls.  Make sure you let the first coat dry before adding the next one.  You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.  Do this on different walls to make sure it looks good everywhere!  Also, try to apply your samples next to the trim in that room to make sure they look good together.  Don't forget to label the samples with the color that was used. A post-it note works great for this!

DO NOT! Tape a square in the middle of the wall to do your sample!!!!  Tape lines leave sharp edges or ridges and are very difficult to cover up later!  Make sure your samples have soft edges, they'll hide easily when the finish coats are applied.

6:  If you aren't satisfied with any of the color samples you have applied, repeat steps 1-5.  It's cheaper to buy more quarts than to repaint because you hate your color choices once the job is done!  This isn't something you do every month, so take the time to find a color you are happy with!

7:  Once you have settled on your favorite color, it's now time to buy the paint.  Whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a contractor, the following still applies.  Take your sample quart to the paint store where you plan on buying your paint.  Remember, you don't have to buy it from the same place where your sample quart was purchased.  If you take it to another paint store, make sure they match the color to the contents of the can, not a color chip or previous match.  


8:  Paint your walls!


I hope this helps in your color selection process.  Don't wait until the last minute to do this!  It may take a little more time that you originally thought and you don't want to make a rash decision.  Remember, you'll be looking at these walls for a long time to come.


If I've left something out or you have additional questions, don't hesitate to ask!

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