How to effectively test paint colours

Choosing a new paint colour can be quite exciting! That is, until you walk up to the colour chip wall, and then it can become quite intimidating - especially if it's your first time. In this post we will cover the importance of purchasing a tester pot of paint and how to test colours effectively.  

Colour is an interesting thing. It can change quite dramatically in different lighting, at different scales, or with different surrounding colours. Colour can also look different on high contrast substrates and with different sheen levels.  With so many options and variables, purchasing a tester pot of paint can be a real lifesaver.    

If you are having troubles selecting a colour, we always recommend that you bring in some inspirational pieces like fabrics or pillows to get a sense of what the overall pallet could be. This will help you narrow your search to a few choices. You can also consult with one of our colour specialists if you need more help and guidance.

Once you have narrowed your selection and you purchase your tester pot, it’s time to paint! It sounds simple enough, but this can be even more confusing if you don’t consider a few key things first.

If you start by priming the wall first, you create yourself a blank canvas. This is always a great idea especially if you are changing the colour drastically. Try not to leave a white border around the sampled colour. This can make it easy to mistake the value or intensity of a colour. Remember anything can look dark on a white background but it doesn’t mean that the colour is dark.

Size matters!
It is always a good idea to paint the largest sample size possible. Certain undertones can be hard to discern in small scale but become more noticeable once scaled up.

Ignore existing Colours!
Colour is affected by what is around it and it can really change the way a colour looks. We recommend eliminating the unwanted colour as much as possible by making sure the new colour is touching an element that is staying in the room. A great place to test is by the baseboard, that way you can see the true way the colour reflects with the floor. Avoid testing paint in square patches directly in the center of the wall. It is common to see this demonstrated in magazines and on tv, but it makes it very difficult to see the true nature of the colour.  

Test samples all alone!
Another tip we like to give if you are testing multiple colours is to test each colour on its own and far away from other colours being tested. Remembering that colour is affected by other colours, testing two or more colours next to each other will bring out undertones that won’t be there if the colour is on its own.

If testing the paint directly onto the wall is not an option for you, we suggest painting a large bristle board or piece of drywall. It will give you the ability to move the colour around the room and check it in different lighting.

By taking the time to fully test out your colour selections, it will save you time and heartache in the long run. Knowing what your colour will do before you commit to painting the entire project will keep you from the dreaded ‘Painting it and Hating it’ moment.

If you have any questions, we are always here to help!

Here are some basic samples of how colour is affected by contrast and colour. In each example, the center colours are the same colour. See how easily the eye can be tricked to think that they are different.