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Does Paint Color Dry Lighter or Darker Than the Color Swatch?

Mar 20, 2012

This is one of the most commonly asked questions by homeowners. "Will the color I choose appear lighter or darker than it does on the paper color swatch?"
The answer is: if the paint is mixed properly, the color should remain true to the color swatch when applied to a surface. However, there are a few environmental and psychological factors that can affect the actual color and the color’s appearance. Environmental factors include:
  • Light. Both the type of light and amount of light can affect color. Natural, incandescent, fluorescent, LED and halogen lighting will all slightly alter the way a color appears in a room. For instance, some lighting will cast blue tones whereas others might cast yellow tones. Therefore, it is very important to choose a color in the prospective room’s natural lighting.
  • Sheen. The type of finish you choose also affects the color. Flat paint has a chalky appearance in finish, absorbs light, and can make a color look slightly lighter than the swatch color.  Glossy paint will typically make a color look darker because the sheen will reflect the light, causing the color to be darker.  Eggshell or Matte generally stays very close to the swatch color because it neither reflects nor absorbs light.
Psychological factors include:
  • Metamerism. This is the scientific word for when our eyes play tricks on us. This phenomenon is when colors look different to the viewer under different circumstances. When selecting paint colors, we automatically compare colors to the surrounding shades and colors. For the most true impression of a color and its value, look at color individually either by paint-sampling or by using large single swatches when selecting a color.
  • Comparison. We also might psychologically compare a color to what the wall is currently. Hold a paint chip up under a yellow or red wall, and the color will automatically change to your eye. This is another effect of metamerism. Look at a color against a white background or against your trim color for the truest representation of your color selection.
If you have any additional questions, give Lancaster Painting a call at 1-800-PAINTING. We service Turlock and the surrounding cities of Central Valley.

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