“Help! How do I match a paint colour?”

A lot of us have been here before. Whether you are just trying to do touch ups, or you forgot what colour you painted, chances are you’ve wondered if there is a way to match a paint colour.

At Erin Mills Paint & Décor Centre we pride ourselves on the ability to match with success just about any colour you bring to us. All we need is a sample of what you would like matched.  

The most ideal sample would be a clean paint chip the size of a toonie, with little to no sheen, no texture, not metallic, and with a solid coat of paint. Always remember, the better the sample, the better the match.

The most ideal paint sample is the size of a toonie.

The most ideal paint sample is the size of a toonie.

Once you bring us the sample, we can begin with a few different methods. We can check manually to see if your colour matches any of our colours from our full colour library, we can scan the colour using a spectrophotometer, or we can have a senior colour match specialist create a custom match. Some colours might require using all these methods to achieve a match.

Looking through the colour library.

Looking through the colour library.

A spectrophotometer is a device that's hooked up to a computer and measures color electronically. There's a port on one end that shines a light on a paint chip sample and then takes a very detailed reading of each wavelengths of light reflected off the sample.

From that reading the program creates a formula by calculating the exact amount of tint needed to achieve a colour match.

Most of the time this works well and is a real time saver, however, sometimes a colour needs to be adjusted after the reading and that’s where a colour match specialist is a big help. The specialist will see whether that colour needs to be darkened or lightened, needs to be redder or more yellow, for example, and they will make the appropriate adjustments.

Sometimes people bring in photographs and magazine pages as their sample and although this may be a good place to start, it won’t produce a good match. Photographs and computer screens cannot display the same number of colours as the human eye can see so the colours will never be precise.

Pictured is a page from a magazine with the exact colour chip placed on top to show how much they differ.

Pictured is a page from a magazine with the exact colour chip placed on top to show how much they differ.

Just as I said before, the better the sample, the better the match, but it takes time to achieve a great match. Often, I’m asked to make sure the colour match is “perfect” and then I’m given a 10-minute timeline. I of course would love to be able to guarantee every match “perfect” in 10 minutes or less but this just isn’t the case for every colour. 

This is our finished result. There is a spot dried down in the middle of the sample.

This is our finished result. There is a spot dried down in the middle of the sample.

So whether you are looking to touch up a room that’s had some wear and tear, or match an unknown paint colour you’ve fallen in love with, drop by Erin Mills Paint & Décor Centre with your sample and watch our colour experts work their magic.

Interior Surface Repaint Tips

Interior surfaces are quite often re-coated with “same on same”, i.e. where the new coating system specified is a replacement of the same type of coating.


The type and the condition of the coating that currently exists on the surface to be repainted is determined by the specifier or painting contractor.


Where a change in the type of coating system is desired or required, special attention must be made to assure that the new system is not only appropriate for the use, but also is compatible.


Where a new coating is applied over a chemically different coating, various problems can arise. Many of these problems can be attributed to one of two incompatibilities;



  • Problem - the binders used in the two coatings are not compatible, which can lead to poor adhesion in the dry film. 
  • Solution - a “tie coat", that is compatible with both the old and new coating is recommended


  • Problem - the previous coating is incompatible to the solvents in the second coating, which can cause lifting, bleeding, etc.
  • Solution- a “barrier coat", which is compatible with both coatings, does not contain solvent to affect the original coating and is resistant to the solvents in the new coating, is used. 

Gloss considerations

Repainting must take into consideration the gloss as well as the age of the previous coating. A “same on same” application where the previous coating is glossy, must be prepared properly or a failure can result. A glossy surface does not allow penetration of the new coating, affecting adhesion and subsequently leading to peeling, flaking and cracking. Most coatings that cure by chemical reaction can continue to harden and become difficult for another coating to adhere to (even if the new coating is a similar and compatible product).


Re-coat Window

It is important to consider the minimum and maximum re-coat time (i.e. the re-coat window) for any coating system. With some coatings, this can be as short as one to two weeks, or as long as six months to a year. During the window, normal preparation can be used. After the window, even extraordinary preparation may not be enough and a tie coat may be necessary.


Surface preparation.

In both of these cases (i.e. glossy surface or outside 'the re-coat window'), surface preparation is critical. Abrading the surface creates an “anchor” pattern. This increases surface area and provides mechanical adhesion to the surface.


 Colour Change

As a general rule with a colour change, budget grade paint systems may not provide adequate hiding. Premium grade paint systems should be specified. Also, with semi-transparent stain, it is virtually impossible to change to a lighter colour without removing the entire previous system.


Two actions, which should be considered part of the normal procedure in ensuring a surface is suitable for repainting, are the appropriate testing of the surface to be repainted and the application of a test patch.


Comparisons of products

  • High-Performance Architectural Latex offers substantially better performance than Conventional Latex products in the areas of washability, burnish resistance, and ease of cleaning.
  • The mar resistance of High-Performance Architectural Latex is better than W.B. Light Industrial Coating.
  • W.B. Light Industrial Coating provides better chemical resistance than Conventional Latex or High-Performance Architectural Latex, and almost equal performance to Alkyd in some circumstances.
  • Alkyds have less alkali resistance than Latex.
  • Epoxy and Polyurethane coatings provide the highest level of chemical and abrasion resistance. They are much superior to both Latex and Alkyd coatings.

2 Must Know Painting Tips

There are many different painting tips out there. Probably too many to list. We're going to share two that we think are most important before you start any painting job. 


1. Know the type of paint before you begin

One of the most important things you can do before starting a DIY painting project is to know what you’re dealing with. You need to find out if the dresser you are about to refinish is oil based paint or latex based paint. It is very important to know if you have oil based paint on the surface you are going to repaint, especially if you are using a latex based product as your top coat, because if you put latex on top of oil, the top coat will come off like butter. 

A quick way to test if your paint is oil based paint or latex based paint is to rub a cotton ball that has been soaked in nail polish remover with acetone in it, or pure acetone, on the surface. 
If the paint comes off, it’s latex based paint. 
If it doesn’t, it’s oil based paint. 

Example of reaction of oil paint on top of latex. Photo source: http://www.doityourself.com/ 

Example of reaction of oil paint on top of latex. Photo source: http://www.doityourself.com/ 

Latex paint being reemoved by acetone soaked pad. Photo source: http://salvagedinspirations.com

Latex paint being reemoved by acetone soaked pad. Photo source: http://salvagedinspirations.com

2. How much paint will you need? 

The easiest way to figure out how much paint you will need is to measure the square footage. If you are painting a wall, measure the width and the height of all the surfaces you will be painting. If you are painting a piece of furniture, measure the depth and length of the surfaces. Add them together for the square footage. 

Example: 1 bedroom, 4 walls at 10L x 8 H = 320 square feet

1 gallon covers approximately 400 square feet
1 quart covers approximately 100 square feet

For 1 dresser, chances are you’ll only need 1 quart of paint. 
For a 10x10 bedroom, you’ll need a gallon. 

You can also use this handy tool from Benjamin Moore, the Paint Calculator Tool

What other tips do you wish you knew before you started a DIY painting project?