Published on May 26th, 2014 | by Grant Barnard


My Paint Color Swatch Does Not Match My Wall Paint

Having trouble with your paint color matching your color swatch? If you are in the Indianapolis area from Fishers to Greenwood, call Grants Painting. We are the best Indianapolis painters near you.

Grants Painting, 5508 Elmwood Avenue Suite #320, Indianapoolis, IN, 46203, United States (US) - Phone: (317) 800-4540 Email: URL:

Paint colors are complex. They are generally made from many different colorants instead of a basic set of colors such as printer ink. Some color systems work from as many as 20 or more colors to make each and every paint color that they offer. You can read a history of paint colors here.

Printer ink is usually made in three or four colors plus black. Some printer systems use up to six color but nowhere near the pigments used in paints.

Why Does My Paint Not Match The Color?

Paint Color Chart

Paint Swatch Disclaimers

Most paint swatches have disclaimers on the back of the paint color swatch. Sometimes they are on the back of the paint can or in another obvious place. They pretty much all say that there will be variances between the color swatch and the actual paint color.

Why The Disclaimers?  Why The Colors Won’t Match?

Usually you will find that the color swatch is slightly lighter if there is a difference due to fading. The color swatches are made with printer ink. Printer inks are not the best at holding color for very long periods of time or under stresses like heat and extreme sunlight exposure. So if the color swatch has been forgotten in the back of the pile for years or otherwise abused by the geniuses at the local big box store, it could be faded and the colors may not be faded equally either.



Sometimes You Just Need To “Box” The Paint

To “Box Paint” means to mix it all together first. Boxing the paint is the best overall way to get all of the paint to be the same. For example, if you were to buy 3 gallons of a specific color, put the three gallons into a five gallon bucket and mix it all to be sure all your final paint is the same color. This prevents just one gallon from being slightly off. Occasionally there are differences in the base or the machine isn’t exactly precise in delivering the pigments equally. Mixing all of the paint together first ensures that any slight variances are eliminated. This also ensures that the brushed in paint matches the rolled on paint because it’s always from the same container.

Check Out A Few Paint Color Swatches

Always leaf through the color chip swatches to be sure that you are not getting the one that is faded and old. If there is only one, it could be the last one from a year ago, so ask for a fresh one if they have it.  Also some painters leave their color books in hot vehicles often so you may want to stop by the store and get a fresh color swatch just to be sure.

Does Your Interior Paint Look Lighter On The Wall?  Read This

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About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

  • Jo TYler

    WE are trying to paint our dining room a Khaki color. . We have bought two different colors of interior paint from Behr Ultra. Neither after drying are any where near the swatches we picked out? Frustrated.

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