Why paint color matching will never be an exact match

Why paint color matching will never be an exact match

A couple of weeks ago I attended a lunch and learn for designers hosted by Julian Tile. It was at this event where we were educated on large format tile as well as learning about paint pigments. After learning more about paint, as well as working with a client who was going to color match, I thought this would be the perfect time to write about why paint color matching will never work!

Learning about pigments in paint was hosted by Jennifer Nelson with Benjamin Moore.

Paint Science 101

First of all, Jennifer gave us a little science lesson. We must have said this word a lot because it is now part of my vocabulary: titanium dioxide. If you are ever in the market for the whitest white, titanium dioxide is the whitest pigment on the market. According to Natural Pigments

Today, titanium dioxide pigment is by far the most important material used by the paints industry for whiteness and opacity. These unique properties are derived from the refractive index of titanium dioxide. The refractive index expresses the ability to bend and scatter light. Titanium dioxide has the highest refractive index of any material known to man, greater even than diamond.

Natural Pigments

What’s in paint?

There are five key components that make up paint (from The Essential Chemistry Industry)

  1. Pigment(s) – prime pigments to impart color and opacity
  2. Binder (resin) – a polymer, often referred to as resin, forming a matrix to hold the pigment in place
  3. Extender – larger pigment particles added to improve adhesion, strengthen the film and save binder
  4. Solvent (sometimes called a thinner) – either an organic solvent or water is used to reduce the viscosity of the paint for better application. Water-borne paints are replacing some paints that use volatile organic compounds such as the hydrocarbons which are harmful to the atmosphere.
  5. Additives – used to modify the properties of the liquid paint or dry film

Color Matching Paint

Paint manufacturers, like Benjamin Moore, work hard to create their colors. As such, they have proprietary, top-secret ‘recipes’ that make up their colors This makes it next to impossible to get an exact color match. Did you hear that? I’ll say it again,

This makes it next to impossible to get an exact color matching paint.

Sheri Bruneau | Get It Together

For Benjamin Moore, they have created Gennex® Colour Technology.

We realized that if we made our own colorants, designed specifically for our paints, we could remove unnecessary chemicals that weaken paint. What we ended up with is a formula that’s better, stronger and simpler.

Benjamin Moore

Why you would want to color match?

There are a few reasons why someone would want to color match.

  1. The painter you are using has loyalty to one brand and one brand only (and it’s not the brand that was specified).
  2. There is a sale on paint in a different brand.
  3. Someone has convinced you that color matching will work.

Don’t do it!

paint color matching

I recently worked with clients where we chose new wall colors for the main floor and stairwell, a new trim color, along with new flooring. My painter provided a quote for all of the painting work. When I heard back that my clients were going to go with another painter, I also found out that he was not going to be using the Benjamin Moore colors that I had specified. So…his quote was cheaper. Here is where I am not going to beat around the bush and just tell it like it is.

No shit his quote was cheaper. He’s not using Benjamin Moore paint. He’s using a lower end paint brand that will never, let me repeat, NEVER, match the colors we selected. Will it be a close match? I have no idea and I can not promise that.

No Promises

Here is what I have on my paint specification sheet when I strictly carry out color consultations for paint.

paint color matching
Excerpt from my paint disclaimer form

While painting is a great way to totally change the mood, the feeling, and the look of a space, it also isn’t always cheap. To hire a painter for your entire home can be a big investment. Why oh why would you ever want to get a color that is close enough? Do you know what is going to happen if the color is wrong? You’ll end up living with it as you will not want to pay more money to have it repainted. Yes – you will live with it, you will see it, and you will hate it. Every. Day. Close enough is not good enough (in my books).

The next time you invest money with an Interior Design who specifies a specific color and brand, please do me a favor and get that exact color. You will never regret it!

I’m curious, have you ever done a paint color match and it worked or didn’t work? I’d love to hear your story!

Sheri Bruneau Get It Together


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