You’re in the process of building your dream home and it’s time to choose your external and internal paint colours. Not a problem. You have your heart set on white. You’ve seen many beautiful homes use white to great effect. Then you see the colour chart – and there are so many shades of white it makes your head spin. How do you choose the right white paint for your project?
I had a chat to Denis Gabrielli of Mr Colour Painting and Decorating to try and solve the “which white is right?” puzzle. Denis explained that light plays a major part in how whites are seen. They are often asked by clients if they have painted a room a different colour than requested because the white looks different to what the client envisioned. The same colour paint can look different in different areas of the home, depending on the light that is reflecting off it.
Cool Whites v Warm Whites
White paints fall into two categories – cool whites and warm whites. Each has a different base colour. Cool whites have a blue base and tend to look crisp, sharp and fresh. They can neutralise a room with bright light.
Warm whites on the other hand have a yellow/brown undertone that creates a cosier atmosphere. They can soften up a room that doesn’t have a lot of natural light.
Effect of Natural Light in a Room
How much natural light a room gets and at what time of the day the light hits makes a difference to the visual effect of white paint.
Rooms that are bathed in all day natural light are by far the easiest to work with and choose paint for. This is because the tone remains the same for most of the day.
Rooms that get early morning sun tend to reflect a pinkish tone and turn bluer as the sun moves through the morning.
In contrast, rooms with late afternoon sun generally have a cooler tone and warm up later in the day. Therefore, Mr Colour Painiting and Decorating would recommend avoiding white paints that have a blue undertone for rooms like these.
The colour produced by natural light can also be affected by the season, the weather and which direction a room is facing.
It’s important to remember that paint colours are affected by many variables. All you can do is choose a colour that you’re happy with most of the time.
Effect of Non-Natural Light in a Room
Of course, getting the white right for daytime living, doesn’t mean it will look the same at night time when you may be using non-natural light.
With artificial lighting, it is important to remember that the colour temperature of the light source is the factor that will affect the colour of the paint. White lights will reflect differently off white paint than warm lights. Therefore, your choice of globe or light fitting could play a major part in the look and feel of a room.
Yellow lights have an orange undertone and can add a warm glow to white paints.
Fluorescent lights have a blue undertone and add a cooler glow to white paints.
Therefore it’s important to consider both natural and non-natural light sources when choosing your white paint.
So How Do You Choose the Best White for Your Room?
Denis from Mr Colour Painting and Decorating recommends obtaining a large off-cut of gyprock (your builder should be able to help with this) and painting it in your colour of choice. You can also paint alternative pieces in other colours or even try half or quarter strength in the same colour.
Then move this sample piece around your house, seeing what it looks like in different rooms and at different times of the day. It is the best way to see the true colour of white you are sampling. Never choose straight from a brochure as you could be left disappointed with the result.
Hot Tip from Mr Colour Painting and Decorating
Denis Gabrielli has been in the painting game for a long time and can offer this tip about your choice of white paint: You may find that different rooms and walls within the home are better painted in different shades of white.
Who says that you have to choose one white for the whole house? Paint your rooms to suit the light they get so you end up with an overall project that you’re happier with.
Most Popular Whites
Mr Colour Painting and Decorating primarily use Dulux paints in their projects and they have kindly put together a list of popular whites (in no particular order). This list might give you a starting point to make the choice of white paint less overwhelming.
Most Popular Dulux Whites for Interiors:
Antique White USA®
White on White™
Hog Bristle® Quarter
Most Popular Dulux Whites for Exteriors:
Snowy Mountains Half
Snowy Mountains Quarter
Hopefully, this information has made your white paint choice a little easier. If you have any other paint questions or need some amazing painters to complete your project, Denis and his team at Mr Colour Painting and Decorating (based on the Northern Beaches of Sydney) are ready to help.
Do you have any other tips to help people choose paint colours? What worked or didn’t work for you?