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3 Tips for Testing Paint Colors

Choosing the right paint might be one of the most daunting home update decisions to make! It seems like there are no less than a gazillion color options. And once you narrow it down to something specific like, white (my go to wall color option), there are still so many things to consider like warmth and coolness. Luckily, there are more options for sampling paint but there’s more to it than slapping the color on the wall. I’m sharing my 3 best tips for testing paint colors in your home. 

tips for choosing paint colors

Paint Color Samples

Before we jump into the tips, let’s chat about what type of paint sample you should use. My favorites are the peel and stick options. These are a super easy and mess free way of trying out paint. Plus, it makes the tips coming up even easier to apply. 

If, like me, you honed your DIY skills using those little tubs of paint samples, you might think that’s the best choice. Well, let me tell you, it’s time to say goodbye to those. Why? Well, for starters, they are messy and require some commitment to actually apply to the wall. 

But the biggest reason I avoid those paint samples is that it’s not the actual paint! Yes, you heard me right. Paint manufacturers don’t want to dish out the good stuff for little throwaway cans so they make a thinner formula that is not intended to last. Not only does it make this paint not very usable, but you’re not getting accurate color results. 

Family room before with pinky taupe and brick red paint. Ugh.

Testing Paint Colors

Ok, onto the tips! Recently I began tackling my new family room and Clare paint jumped in to help me with this project. Because I love the complete transformation of white paint I chose some of their top white paint colors. I’ll walk you through my selection process and share my tips using this space. 

For this, I used 3 different white paints from Clare Paint Whites & Light Swatch Kit.  I used Fresh Kicks, Snow Day, & Whipped. 

1. Look at Samples at Different Times of Day

You might’ve noticed that wall paint colors will look different throughout the day. That gray bedroom wall might look more mauve in the evenings. Or a white paint may be more yellow with morning light.

By looking at paint samples at different times of day (preferably in various types of weather!), you can get a more accurate reading on how the paint will present itself over time. 

2. Place Samples on a Variety of Walls

Often, when we;re testing paint colors, we put up a sample on one easy wall and only use that reference point. Well, that can easily throw things off. What if that wall is the only one that gets direct sunlight? Or what if it’s shadowed by a corner? 

Using just one wall narrows how you’ll see that paint sample color. Instead, try placing the sample on different walls to get a good read on how it looks throughout your space. 

paint sample on neutral background

3. View Paint Sample on a Neutral Background

Ok, I’m saving one of the best paint sample tips for last here. Be sure to view your paint sample on a neutral background. Why? Well, if you’re only looking at it against the *current* wall color then you’re pulling up all sorts of hues. 

If the existing paint color is warm (like a beige, yellow, or brick red like mine), then the paint sample might look extra cool and icy. 

Or, if the current paint color is cool (think blues, greens, steely grays), then your paint color might look muddy or dingy. 

How to fix this? If current wall color is not a true neutral (see some of my favorite neutral paint colors) try placing your sample on top of a neutral white printer paper for a more accurate representation. 

Best white wall paint? 

After using all of these tips for testing paint colors, I ultimately went with Fresh Kicks. It’s a solid neutral white with even undertones. Just how I like it! 

Although this room is due for a complete makeover (stay tuned for a fireplace makeover and flooring update), the fresh coat of paint really made a dramatic impact. Goodbye maroon red and pinky gray – hello modern and fresh. 

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