Paint Colour Matching

Paint colour matching is the process where the paint required to cover an area is matched with the existing paint. The match can be calculated by taking into consideration properties such as hue, value and chroma. Hue is the name of the colour, for example, green, blue or yellow.

Value is how light or dark a colour is. For example, bright primary colours are lighter in value than deeper shades of colours. Chroma describes how colourful or dull a hue appears to be. The more chromatic it is, that is to say, the brighter and purer the colour, the higher its chroma may be. Achromatic variants of an original hue can have different values and hues, but they all have high chromas because they have strong saturation which means being so vivid they approach pigmentary limits.

Colour Matching Paint

Matching paint (paint matching) involves adjusting any differences between two surfaces of colour by ensuring that the new paint either has the same Chroma (saturation or brightness) or value.

The process is normally done by having a selection of paint chips (paint swatches/ palette) which are available in all colours and hues. Each chip corresponds to the colour of paint used for that type of paint, allowing you to select complementary colours to create your own unique shade.

Find out your best/preferred range of hues through online quizzes or asking friends. You can then pick up paint cards from any local hardware store, which may help you narrow down what’s right for you. Matching paints can be difficult so always consider buying tester pots before committing to full cans.

Colour Matched Paint

Trying out your colour match on test surfaces may ensure it looks as you’d like it to before committing.

If the new paint’s value (how light or dark it is) and chroma (saturation/colour strength) are not spot on, then some retouching of the previous paint may be needed. Sometimes it takes time to match the colour. If the differences between the existing and new colours are greater than 5-10% in either value or chroma, any touch up may require a primer base coat and possibly a second topcoat over the touched up area(s). The painting site may need undercoating if necessary, basically, whatever was there originally could be covered completely with at least one coat of primer before starting fresh, all surfaces that had been painted previously may receive a base of colour, otherwise, they’ll show through as an irregularity in the new paint job.

Dark Topcoats

If you want to match dark topcoats with light base paints, it can also help you create a fresh shade that is similar to another, but not an exact match. In this way, you could go from a red that was too bright or tinted for your taste to a more muted dark purple that still has the same chroma and value. Remember when mixing colours to start with darker mixes and add white if too strong a tone is preferred.

Lighter Values

If you want to match lighter values, it can be done by mixing a hue’s complement (eg: blue, orange, green) but make sure the base colour doesn’t turn out grey, adding both white and black may often help achieve a better balance of greyness/neutrality.

Mixing Lighter and Darker Values

The same methods can be used by mixing equal amounts of lighter and darker values/hues (eg: blue, green, purple). As the chroma doesn’t change, it stays the same as both colours are equally present in the mix. Therefore you need to alter value (how light or dark a colour is) to make it either lighter or more intense, for example adding white may make paint lighter while adding black or grey may make it darker. Ensure you have a range of paints with different levels of lightness so that you can achieve many tones from one pigment colour.

Paint Colour Matching Service

A colour matching company is usually free of charge, but some have a fee so it’s worth asking before committing to a colour match sample project. Some carry out the service on an individual basis while others offer group sessions where you can bring along members of your family or friends that need help finding a colour match for their home projects. The service can be very time consuming as it takes practice to achieve consistency and accuracy when matching colours.

You could also use a paint sample, small sample tester pots or touch up paints that you’ve already used on surfaces around the home. If buying touch up paints always buy them in sets (1x light base colour plus 1x dark topcoat) as this may save you money rather than buying each individually. It’s easier to find a match for your project. Some brands of spray paint are good for blending existing colours together if you don’t have any leftover sample pots lying around your home so keep your eyes out for these at local hardware stores.

If finding the closest match is still proving difficult find a painting professional who offers colour matching services. He could have the experience to help find a match for your walls. Keep in mind that some painters may request a fee if they have to drive a long way to the home where the paint is being used as this can also add time and cost. There are also some companies that offer online colour matching services, but you’ll need to be sure of what sort of quality you can expect from these services before committing any money or sending off a paint sample. When considering what sort of painting service you want, the hardware store or paint shop may be your best place to start. You can look around for samples of their work which are usually displayed outside the shop front, but if not ask inside where they do local jobs and if they can provide you with a list of referrals.

paint colour matching
Colour Matching Ideas for Your Walls

Professional Colour Consultants

There are colour consultants who use their years of experience to help guide you in achieving your desired look for your home. They can provide custom recipes and formulas for achieving the right colour/shade you’re looking for. Some may require a fee while others offer free services, so it’s best to ask what is included in the price before committing yourself to anything.

There are also colour specialists who may take your project and match colours to ensure you achieve exactly what you want for your home decorating job. Usually, they’ll ask for a fee but it’s worth checking this before committing yourself as some do offer free services in which case it would be best to go with the latter option unless there was something else you needed from the service.

If you’re hiring a professional painter it’s best to get them involved in the colour matching process as they may have some great suggestions that could save time, hassle and money too.

Online colour matching project is not always accurate or consistent but it offers the best possible results and the store or service may usually find a great colour match for your wall or room. It all comes down to the paint you use, how it looks when it dries, what sort of lighting is available and many other factors so take your time during the colour matching process and don’t be afraid to adjust colours slightly until you achieve the right effect.

Once you’ve achieved your desired colour mix always save a sample in case you need to touch up the surface at a later date. Remember, if you and your family can’t decide on a colour sample it’s always best to consult with the most important person in the room, your wallet.

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