11 Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

by David Gardner
Gardner Contracting, LLC

Have you ever painted a room and then wished you could do it over because it didn’t turn out the way you expected?  Choosing paint colors can be tricky, even for a professional.  But here are some tips that might help:

  1. Decide what look you’re going for.  For example, light and airy or dark and cozy.
  2. Don’t choose a color and then rush out and buy paint.  After you choose the color, it is very important that you compare it to similar colors in the color deck.  For example, you decide livable gray might be the one.  Compare livable gray to all the other grays in the color deck.  This is important because livable gray could have a pink undertone that you didn’t notice when you were looking at just that paint chip.  But when you compare it to the other grays, the pink really jumps out.  If you want a pinkish gray then you’re good.  But if you don’t, doing that comparison saved you from making a costly mistake.
  3. Don’t automatically eliminate colors you don’t like.  Look through the color deck with an open mind because the colors that look the best in your room might have shades of colors (hues) you thought you didn’t like.
  4. Don’t be afraid to choose a darker color because, contrary to popular belief, darker colors don’t necessarily make a room feel smaller.  If you do choose a dark color (red and dark yellow are worst), you’ll probably need a tinted primer so you don’t have to apply as many coats.  I once painted a room very dark red.  The room was medium beige so I thought the beige would be a dark enough so it wouldn’t need too many coats.  But it ended up taking FIVE coats.  A tinted primer would have been better.
  5. When choosing a color, consider the permanent accessories in the room. Paint is one of the easier things to change.  For example, if you’re buying a new couch, buy the couch first and then match the paint.  Also keep in mind the colors of things like flooring, blinds, furniture, etc.
  6. If you have kids, you might want to choose satin or eggshell paint because those finishes are easier to clean.  You also might want to be careful about choosing decorative finishes because some of them are harder to maintain.
  7. Very dark colors don’t handle the moisture in a bathroom very well.  So you might want to stick with lighter colors in that particular room.
  8. Sample containers are an inexpensive way to make sure you get a color you like.  When you put the samples on the wall, paint them next to the trim or next to the couch so it’s easier to see if they look good.  And keep them fairly close together so you can see how they compare.
  9. Make sure you mark the left over paint so it’s easier to touch up later when Billy draws on the wall.
  10. You don’t just choose a color, you have to choose a sheen, too.  Most paint companies have flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss.  Satin and semi-gloss are good for trim. Anything but gloss is good for walls.  All finishes but flat clean well.  Flat paint and/or lighter colors camouflage imperfections better than darker colors and shiny paint because a dark, shiny paint shows every imperfection.  Flat hides imperfections because it gets rid of the reflection factor.  Eggshell or satin are the most popular finishes.
  11. Lighter colors are more forgiving.  Darker colors show more detail.

So there you have it – a few tips for choosing a paint color.  So get out your color deck and  see what you can come up with.

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