Wondering the best way to test paint colors on your house? As professional house painters, we help our Columbus, Ohio customers select the right paint for walls, trim, ceilings, decks, cabinets, and more. Whether you want to paint an interior room or the outside of your house, here are some tips for testing different colors prior to deciding.
Before we discuss how to test paint colors, it makes sense to first understand color and the effect it has on us.
Words to know:
- Hue: a color or shade
- Value: the lightness or darkness of a color
- Saturation: how dominant the hue is (primary colors are the most saturated)
- Intensity: the brilliance of a color (how bright or dull it is)
Color psychology and choosing paint colors
According to color psychology, color can influence our moods and behaviors. Years ago, people began painting hospital walls green because it is believed to have a calming and peaceful effect. To this day, doctors and other hospital staff often wear green scrubs, and some surgery rooms are green.
The effects of color are subtle yet significant. In marketing and branding, tons of research go into choosing the right colors for logos because colors impact consumer choices, even if just subliminally.
Consider the mood of the room when choosing a color
A bedroom will most likely set a different mood than a child’s playroom or a kitchen. You might prefer soft, muted pastels or neutrals in the room where you sleep, and bright vibrant colors for a room where your kids play. Keeping it light and bright in the kitchen creates a crisp clean look that goes well with any meal.
Now that you have a general understanding about color, let’s dive into the various ways to test paint on the inside of your house.
How to test paint color on an interior room of your home
We’ve all seen the small paint swatches at the store. They look like little bookmarks, with four to six different colors on one piece of paper. Maybe you’ve already brought a few swatches home, cut out the colors you like, and hung them your wall? Well, have you made your decision yet? Probably not. These little color squares are just not big enough to get a good idea on how a certain color will look in a room.
Three ways to test paint color on the interior of your home:
1. Use a virtual painter app.
There many different virtual painting apps and websites online where you can upload a picture of your room, select different colors to apply to the image, and get a general idea of what your room would look like after it’s painted. If you want to try one out, this is the Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer.
2. Paint a sample section of paint directly on your wall.
Most home improvement stores offer small, sample-sized cans of paint. To get a better sense of the color, you could paint directly on the wall. Make sure your sections are at least 1 foot by 1 foot. If you have more than one choice, paint them side by side, leaving a little space between each one. And paint two coats; it will make a difference.
How many sample sections should I paint to decide on a room color?
If you paint one section on a wall that does not get direct sunlight and one section on a wall that does, you’ll be able to see the effect natural light has on the color. Keep in mind that the existing color on the wall will affect how the new color looks when painted over it. If you are going from a dark color to a light one, you will need to paint a primer on the wall first to get the right color.
3. Make large paint samples.
Since the paint swatches from the store are too small, just make bigger ones. Once you get the sample cans, paint each color on a one foot by one foot piece of foam board or heavy paper. You can buy a piece of poster board for less than one dollar and cut it into four sections to create four swatches. You may also be able to special order large swatches from the paint manufacturer or ask your painting contractor to make them for you.
What are the benefits of using large paint swatches?
A major benefit of using large swatches to pick a color is you won’t have to worry about covering up all the test spots on your walls. Since it takes two to three coats to see a true color, the test paint could get quite thick. If you’re not careful to feather out the edges of your paint swatches on the wall, they could leave behind hard lines that will be difficult to cover up with the new paint color. You may even need to sand these sections down.
How do you use handmade paint swatches?
Use painter’s tape to temporarily secure your swatches to different walls of the room to see how the color changes because of the lighting. Make sure to stick swatches next to the trim, and compare the new paint color to the furniture that will be in the room.
Does room lighting make a difference on wall color?
Consider the type of lighting that will be in the room, where the lights are located, and the color of the bulbs. Overhead light affects color differently from lights positioned at eye-level. Halogen, incandescent, fluorescent, and LED bulbs generate different color tones, so a cool bright light will change how people perceive paint color versus a warm soft light.
What are the different types of sheen for paint?
The higher the sheen, the higher the shine and durability. Each option has its pros and cons.
- Flat: No shine; hides wall flaws the best; has the most pigment for the best coverage
- Eggshell: Medium durability with minimal luster; good for hiding wall imperfections
- Satin: Durable with a velvety look; may reveal brush stroke flaws
- Semi-Gloss: Durable and cleans easily
- High-Gloss: Most durable and easiest to clean
How to choose the right paint sheen
When choosing the right paint finish, consider the purpose of the room or specific area. For example, the walls in your kitchen within the “splatter range” from cooking will need to be cleaned often. Also, cabinets, drawers or other areas where kids may use dirty fingers to access. In general, kitchens benefit from high-gloss or semi-gloss paint sheens.
Family rooms and play rooms are high-traffic areas; bedrooms, on the other hand, are low-traffic areas. Dining rooms and living rooms fall somewhere in the middle, depending on your lifestyle and family.
How to test exterior paint colors on the outside of your house
While it’s okay to go crazy when choosing paint colors for the inside of your home, you should consider your neighbors when choosing paint colors for the outside. But how do you know which color will look best on your house? One way is to use technology.
House painting apps are a way to visualize your home in a different color
The same apps we discussed earlier for the inside of your house can also be used to see a color on the exterior. Simply upload an image of your home, select a color, and the app will apply the color to your image. These virtual painter apps are a great way to get a general idea of what you like, but there are so many choices out there, how do you know what color will look good once it’s painted?
Apply paint on opposite sides of your house to see the color in different lighting
Another way to see how a paint color will look on your house is to simply paint a small area. Be sure to paint sample sections on both the north and the south side of your house, since the lighting can vary drastically. This will help you determine if you need a lighter or darker hue. Also, apply paint near the trim to see if you like the contrast. Make sure to look at your sample areas during different times of the day to see how natural light affects the overall color.
What is the benefit of buying a high-quality house paint?
Buying a high-quality house paint may mean spending more money upfront, but think of all the benefits. Premium paint is more durable, more stain-resistant for easier cleaning, and holds up to the elements for less fading and flaking down the road. This means you won’t have to have your house painted again for a long time.
Oil-based paint vs. latex paint. What’s the difference?
Oil-based paint has a hard finish that is durable and water resistant. Keep in mind, if your home has previously been painted with an oil-based paint you need to stick with it; if you apply latex paint over oil-based paint, it will peel.
Due to its improvements over the years, some latex exterior paint can be as durable as oil-based paint. People usually choose latex paint because it is easy to work with and clean up. Acrylic latex is the highest-quality latex paint and can even be used on masonry and metal (after priming).
What if I don’t know what type of paint is on my house?
If you aren’t sure what type of paint is currently on your house, peel off a large chip and bend it. If it bends slightly before cracking it’s probably latex, because oil-based paint snaps easily. If you want a second opinion, take a paint chip to your local home improvement store and they can test it for you.
When you’re ready to paint the outside of your house or an inside room, use these easy tips to test different paint colors before deciding. Prim Painting has a team of professional house painters who serve the Columbus, Ohio, area. Contact us today with any paint color questions or to schedule a free quote.