Painting Your Home? How to Get That Perfect Color Match

Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Color Match for Your Home

By: Alexa Erickson


Painting is a surefire way to freshen up a space.

Over time, a home is due for a fresh coat. A well-lived in residence comes with its fair share of dings, nail holes and random scratches and marks on the wall. Other times, it’s a brand new hue that’s calling to transform the space — whether that’s a bold accent wall, or even just a different base color throughout the home.

When it’s time to DIY a touch up, the first step is to determine the exact color you need. And if you’ve found the coolest color for that accent wall on Pinterest, you’ll want to pinpoint the exact color as well.

If it’s been years since you painted, you may be hard-pressed to dig up the original paint you used. That’s where a color match comes in handy. But it’s not as simple as describing the paint to a specialist, showing a personal picture, or coming in with crumbs of chipped paint. To make the most of your renovation experience, you’re going to need some expert advice.


How to Match Paint Color Already On Wall

“Matching an existing paint color in your home may seem like a tricky business without a paint brand, sheen or color name/number to work from. But, just like any DIY painting project, the right information and expectations can go a long way,” says According to Erika Woelfel, VP of Color and Creative Services for Behr Paint.

For patching paint from nail holes or other wall damage, Woelfel suggests painting the whole wall, from corner to corner. “It might seem time intensive, but it doesn’t take much longer than individual patches and a quart of paint can cover up a wall up to 100SF.”

Lydia Fedos, Marketing Content Manager at Datacolor, agrees. “Paint on a wall does change over time, so even if you had the original can of paint and tried to touch up a spot on the wall, it wouldn’t blend perfectly.” Fedos recommends painting the whole wall to avoid splotches of new color standing out among the old paint on the wall. “You’d be better off painting the whole wall (which of course could then look different next to adjacent walls depending on how long ago the walls were painted, if you were using the old paint or a new batch, etc.)”

For baseboards, Woelfel advises repainting the length of the baseboard from corner to corner. “Or another natural stopping point (like a door opening).”

Woefel harps on consistency when it comes to painting. “How you paint makes a big difference in the outcome. A consistent paint job will look complete and a patchy job looks patchy, regardless of a high-quality color match.” The bottom line: It’s best to paint the whole wall, which will give you the best results and highest ROI.


Matching the Finish

Once you know the color you want, it’s imperative you pick the right finish! This is especially important if you’re not repainting other walls that had the same paint on it. The good news is there are only a handful of sheen options to choose from. The challenging component is that sheens do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

“Most home walls are eggshell (medium sheen) or matte (a bit chalkier). Trim is often satin or semi-gloss. Behr has a full sheen guide at the Home Depot paint desk which demonstrates the finish options within its product lines,” says Woelfel.


Color Matching The Sample

If you have a color on your wall or other surface you want to match, you’ll need to get a sample. But not just any piece of paint will do! “The chip that you bring to the store for the spectrophotometer (the machine that ‘reads’ the color) should be a minimum size of a quarter,” says Woelfel. “Anything smaller will allow other light in to be read by the machine and create an inaccurate result.”

As for where to collect your sample, the best place to choose the paint chip from is behind the door, under a windowsill, or from a closet interior in the same color. “Taking a chip off the wall will leave a slight change in texture, so the chip location should be subtle,” says Woelfel.


Use an App

Paint matching apps are another way to pinpoint the color you’re looking for. Some of the bigger paint companies, like Behr, provide mobile apps that allow you to upload a photo of the painted surface you want to match and receive the manufacturer’s closest colors.


Try the ColorReader EZ

This device and accompanying app lets you scan the flat surface (such as a wall or area of trim) to find its top three color matches across the leading paint manufacturer brands,” says Fedos. “You can choose to select only those paint brands you prefer (you may live in an area of the country where certain brands aren’t readily available or have a personal preference for a particular paint brand) by simply tapping the ‘Change Fandeck’ icon at the top right corner displayed on your smartphone.”

You can save your color match, as well as organize matches according to project, room and more. You can also share your matches with friends, family, paint contractors, etc. “There is also an area in which you can make notes about your color match,” says Fedos.

“By tapping on the ‘Colors’ fan deck icon on the bottom, you can explore all the digital fan deck colors available. By tapping on your color match, you’ll have options that include seeing your color match in the color fan deck it’s located in.” This allows you to see even more related colors.

Pinpoint coordinating colors organized by palettes, too, like “Complementary,” “Triad,” “Analogous” and “Monochromatic,” along with a little primer to help you understand each scheme. Save any of the color schemes as palettes, or create your own palettes!

“You’ll also find color data such Hex, Cie Lab and RGB (helpful for digital designers),” says Fedos. It should be noted that the ColorReader EZ can’t tell you what sheen was used.


Take a Photo

Quick and effective, snapping a photo can help you with getting a color match. Be sure the object or room is well-lit with natural light, then bring that photo to your local paint store. While you might not get the exact color you’re looking for, it’s an easy option if you’re not too picky. This option is ideal if you have an idea for an accent wall, but not if you’re in need of a perfect match.

Painting Your Home? How To Get That Perfect Color Match
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Painting Your Home? How To Get That Perfect Color Match
If it’s been years since you painted, you may be hard-pressed to dig up the original paint you used. That’s where a color match comes in handy, and here is the best way to get that perfect match!
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