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About paint companies and testing paint samples

About interior paint and creating samples, written by columnist and award winning designer, Tanna Espy Miller B.F.A, M.B.A of Design Nashville,

Have you ever fallen in love with a paint chip only to find that it was very disappointing on your wall? Several factors contribute to the overall impression of a paint color in a particular space:
Amount of light
Directionality of light (An umbrella of light will create consistency of appearance)
Tint of light (Energy saving bulbs and fluorescent bulbs may project a tint)
Sheen of paint (high sheen creates more tonal contrast)
Texture of wall surface (More texture increases range of light and dark. Texture obscures sheen)
Application of paint (Rolled paint looks matte compared to brushed paint which enhances gloss)
Colors nearby (The perception of color is altered when it is next to another color.)

About the paint itself You will have the best result having your paint mixed by the company offering the color. Pigments and bases vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Computer color matching and trained specialists can rarely duplicate the subtleties of anther company's product.

Things to keep in mind:
Paint chips are printed ink NOT PAINT They will never, ever look exactly like the wall paint.

Paint chips look darker than paint Without exception, paint chips appear smokier and darker than actual paint. Additionally, having paint on a large surface amplifies the color, so always choose paint chips that are darker and more muted than you intend the wall to be.

Rolled paint and brushed paint do not look the same. Brushed paint will have more high and low tones.

Flat paint and semi gloss paint do not appear to be the same color.

Paint NEVER MATCHES fabric. Not ever. Forget the commercials you have seen. Computer matches attempt to match the median color in the range of the item provided. Fabric has depth and a weave which reflects light from many surfaces. If the fibers are all the same, a paint color can get close. If the fibers vary as in a silk, chenille, velvet, or woven design, no single color will match the fabric. We recommend simple faux finish techniques for complicated depth of paint color. (using colors slightly different in hue and a stage above or below in value).

Keep the paint close to the chip. The expert mixing paint may be willing, but mixing a paint halfway between two paint chips might be impossible and is usually not such a good idea. Most companies use at least 4 distinctly different paint bases. Some are thick and cloudy. Others are translucent. To darken a color made in a milky base usually gives you a muddy color rather than a darker richer color. You would be better off working from another dark color to shift the hue. Paint is engineered to dry at a certain rate. Substantially changing the mix changes the drying rate and the transparency of the product which can affect the sheen and the amount of coats needed for coverage. To further increase difficulties, pigments vary from one paint manufacturer to another. Some colors are just not possible. Change paint companies if you can't find a suitable color within samples provided.

Our preferences: Benjamin Moore: our first choice for designer color matching. Their sample chips are more consistently accurate across all product lines than any other line. The gradations of color and sheen are comprehensive making the line a favorite of designers. It is also the reason why home owners may shy away. Look for brochures of smaller collections if the line is overwhelming.

Porter Paint Glyptex Eggshell is far and away the best trim paint because of its superior coverage and smooth flowing finish. Porter wall paint is excellent, but there are gaps in color offerings. In fact, there are some colors that are not possible with their particular pigments. Specifically: tinted colors are muddy rather than sophisticated, because the pigments don't replicate organic pigments well. Cool scarlet and burgundy are impossible. Organic off beat colors like citrine can be challenging too, because the toning is typically done with grey, umber, and black rather than blending ocre with veridian and then toning.

Sherwin Williams makes a consistently fine paint for both walls and trim. The color offerings are unique to Sherwin Williams, typically with a milky or dusty tone. Medium toned colors are ALWAYS substantially lighter and a bit more pastel than sample chips. We recommend their paint if you are willing to fine tune the color or don't have a need for an exacting match. Sherwin Williams' translucent stains and comprehensive outdoor finishes are outstanding.

Pratt and Lambert's line incorporates sublime designer colors, especially organic looking tinted yet lively colors. The translucency of the paint varies considerably from color to color. Some unique colors may require 4 coats for coverage. This is not alarming, because translucency is the only way to achieve some colors with paint. Pratt and Lambert stores tend to be combined with design centers. We recommend Pratt and Lambert for color connoisseurs.

We can't recommend paint available in warehouse stores as service and quality vary too much for our purposes. For concept only, we admire various Ralph Lauren palettes. The paint, itself is not of consistent quality. Some novelty paints in the line are great ideas that don't work out very well, because they attempt to short cut faux finishing techniques that can't be replicated without layers of application.

Making a sample Using a 2ft x 2ft high grade plywood, prime surface with primer or coat of paint. Roll two additional coats edge to edge. When sample is complete, test it in the intended room by holding it against the surfaces that stay such as the floor, window trim, sofa, etc. Do not hold the sample in the center of an existing wall. You will not be able to adequately evaluate the new color if it is surrounded by another color. Only well trained colorists can identify correctly colors when they are surrounded by other colors. Try the sample in the corner as well as a broad area and at different times of day and weather. In other words, it will take you a few days to examine the color. Take the time. The percentage of paint projects that are done a second time is astounding. (If you use cardboard, apply more coats of paint as the board will soak up the first two and may never offer you the correct sheen.)

Hint: If you like the sample, but don't like the paint on the wall, it is too much of a good thing. Tell your paint expert you need it to be "cloudier" or "smokier". If you say lighter, it will still be vibrant, possibly more so. While we do recommend saturated and dark colors, the colors recommended here tend to be on the safer side for a broad audience.

Enjoy!