Best Practices for Picking a Paint Color

Picking a color to paint a room in your home, or your home itself, can be daunting. There are hundreds of thousands of colors, shades, and tints. There are a few ways you can get started. One way is to decide what kind of mood you want the color to evoke. You can learn more about color and mood in our Color Theory 101 rundown. Another thing you can do is look at pictures you’ve liked on Pinterest or a similar website or app. Is there a common color or theme that sticks out to you?

Once you have a general idea of the color you want, it’s time to get specific. Here are a couple attack plans for figuring out exactly what color and shade you want without having to stand at the paint counter at your local home improvement store and look at every single color option to narrow down the playing field. Find a picture that has the color you want and upload it to the Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap tool on your phone or computer. The ColorSnap tool will give you a color palette based on the colors in that picture. Here’s one I made:

Another thing you can do is go to the Pantone Color Finder. From here, you can select a color, hit submit, and it will give you 100 shades of that color.

You can click on any of the shade options and it will give you the color value details.

You can then take that color into your local paint/home improvement store, and ask them to color match it.

A great way to narrow down the options is to ask for samples of a few colors you like, and then paint a 1-foot square on your wall of each to see what it would look like in that room and with the lighting in that room. Sometimes a color looks great in theory, but then you get it on a wall and it’s not what you were expecting.

If you’re nervous about painting a whole wall or room, you can use the Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer to upload a picture of your room and test out different paint colors in seconds.

A lot of companies also provide a “Color of the Year” or a “Color of the Month” for the trend-seekers out there. Check out a few of them here: Pantone, Benjamin Moore, Valspar, PPG, and Sherwin-Williams.

Something else to consider is a color palette or scheme. If you are more of a tactile person, check out The Color Scheme Bible by Anna Starmer – while it was written in 2005 and a bit outdated in terms of what’s trending, the “Color Palette Dictionary” that makes up the majority of the book has some good ideas for combining different colors in a room. You can also use this helpful infographic.

When it’s time to buy your paint, remember that a gallon of paint can cover up to 400 square feet, so consider how many coats you’ll need and plan accordingly. If you aren’t sure how many square feet you are working with, check out this handy calculator from Glidden.