Blog Painters color swatch book

Published on February 17th, 2015 | by Grant Barnard


Why Does My Paint Look Lighter/Different On The Wall – Painters Advise

Many times people will choose a paint color only to have it look much different on the wall. Much of this is simple visualization abilities. However, there are many other things that will either hurt or help in your paint colors looking the same on the wall as you expect it too. Everybody wants the paint color to look the same on the wall as it does on the on the color swatch. If you are in the Indianapolis area please consider Grants Painting as your Painters in Indianapolis. Our painters can make sure that you are getting the paint color that you want and expect on your wall.

Paint Color Appears Darker On The Swatch??

When the paint color looks lighter on the wall and darker on the swatch, you have a very common problem that is not very easily corrected.  The reason that this happens is that you look at the swatch often with a pure bright white background. This is commonly found on the sample swatches you find at the hardware store. These samples have varying shades and tint of the same color and can cause them to appear darker than what they ultimately will on our wall, resulting in you not getting the results you expected.

Paint Color Just Looks Different Than The Color Swatch

If  the color on your wall appears different than the swatch it is more than likely that you are/were looking at the color with the wrong background. Almost by instinct, once you think you’ve found the right color you will take the single color swatch and hold it up in the room you are wanting to paint. Your background color is now whatever the color of the room is you are in – News Flash – That color will be gone out of the room because you are PAINTING OVER IT , or having your painters paint over it, resulting in the color you picked not turning out as  you had hoped.

The Proof Is In The Painters’ Pudding

Skewed Color Chart Comparison
Same Color Chart


At first you may think the inserts color on the left group and the insert colors on the right group are the same, but wait, take a another closer look. You will see that the set of inserts on the right are the same color in each set. However, on the left, the insert colors have been slightly skewed to appear the same, but when placed on a white back ground you can see the difference. This just goes to show how important your background is when looking at paint swatches!!

One More Factor Changing The Appearance Of  Your Paint Color

The sheen will always make colors appear different. This is another animal because it causes the color to draw from color derived from light. We won’t go that deep into things in this article, but always consider this. One way to give yourself a true to life color swatch would be to use a shiny clear coat with now amber color to it.

The magic of these images is that you will question yourself if you stare at it long enough. This proves the point of how nearby color dramatically changes how you see the color on the swatch and compared to how the paint color looks on the wall.

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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.

  • Ann

    Um… I get what you’re saying but if I stick my paint swatch right on the wall I painted it’s a completely different color in the same lighting. That isn’t a perception illusion…

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