Paint Color Matching: Does it work?

Ah – the big question… does color matching work?

Short answer, it’s not 100%.


Paint manufacturers purposely create paint colors unique to their brand – so even the most sophisticated color matching tool can only achieve about 90% accuracy.

That said, if you have the time, patience and persistence – you can get really close.

Here is what we’ll cover in this article:

  1. Key considerations before attempting to color match
  2. Best way to get the exact result you want
  3. 3 Effective Methods for Matching Paint Colors
  4. The #1 Color Matching Mistake to Avoid (often neglected)

Let’s get started:

Key Considerations Before Attempting to Color Match

Matching paint colors is a difficult task. However, with a few key considerations in mind, it can make the process much easier.

When was the last time the area was painted?

Whether interior or exterior paint, paint changes color as it ages so even if you get a match, it’s likely the color will be different than the original.

Manual color matches take time and persistence.

Manual color matching is time-consuming and difficult, with modest changes having a significant impact on the final result.

Did you know, for example, that you should only mix paint in natural light since artificial lighting will alter the colors?

Color matching by spectrophotometers is only accurate 90% of the time, according to experts.

One approach to match paint hues is with a spectrophotometer, which may be found in virtually any paint store.

Although this device is probably your best bet, it’s still only 90% accurate with someone operating it with a lot of experience.

It’s possible that several tries will be required to achieve the color correctly.

Paint company match records are frequently incorrect.

Paint manufacturers usually keep a record of the colors they employ in paint matches.

These databases are manually compiled or measured using a spectrophotometer.

If the operator has been properly instructed, their accuracy is around 90%.

What paint colors are the most challenging to match?

White is one of the most difficult paint colors to match.

Because whites have a low pigment content, even a minor variation can make a big difference in color.

Until they’re used in a space, white paints’ color shifts are almost impossible to notice.

Modern Master Bedroom with White Trim and Light Grey Walls

Is it possible to replicate paint sheens between companies?

NO, in a nutshell.

In the United States, there is no standard paint sheen for residential use.

For example, Benjamin Moore Eggshell and Sherwin Williams Satin are comparable products. And so on.

Each sheen requires a distinct paint recipe because of the difference in reflectiveness.

his contributes to “mismatch” unpredictability.

The best way to color match paint and where to find it

Of course, the color code is the most accurate method to get an exact match, but they are occasionally misplaced.

Paint Color Code on Sherwin Williams Paint Sample

However, if you’re diligent about it, you may still discover several locations where the color code might be found:

  • On those dusty paint cans tucked away in your garage
  • If you live in an HOA and your home has never been repainted, it’s entirely possible that the HOA has your color code.
  • Check all of your paperwork regarding the property, including when you purchased it.
  • Examine your old correspondence with the builder or seller.

If you’re still having trouble finding a paint can with the color code, here are three tried-and-true methods for obtaining a near perfect color match:

3 Effective Methods for Matching Paint Colors

Method 1 (best): Remove a paint chip from the surface you want to compare and bring it to a paint store.

This option is ideal if you don’t want to hire a color expert.

All you need to do is remove a chip of paint (larger than half a dollar) from anywhere and take it to your local paint shop.

Simply scrape or cut away the top layer of paint with a knife or razor blade.

That’s it.

Bring it to a paint store (examples: Home Depot or Sherwin Williams) and will match with their spectrophotometers and database history.

Although this is the most accurate for most people, it’s still only about 90% accurate.

Consider hiring a professional who looks at these color daily or just schedule a free color consult with our staff here.

Method 2: Compare the color deck to the area you want to match.

If you think you have a good eye to match, you’ll want to get your hands on a fan deck.

A fan deck is all the colors that particular paint manufacturer makes on a surface that allows you to see the actual hues (virtual environments skew color visualizations).

Every paint supplier offers color fan decks, you just have to ask.

Color matching with a color fan deck

Then find the color that matches closest to it by holding it next to the area you want to match and try to get as close as possible with your eye.

This approach is not very accurate for most people.

Method 3: Schedule a color consultation

The best way to get close to an exact match is by consulting with a professional.

Because it is so subjective, color matching isn’t a simple procedure. To ensure that the hue is accurately reproduced, a competent professional will most likely employ a combination of these choices as well as some of their own techniques.

And for a limited time, we are offering color consultations for free. Just request a color consult here.

The #1 Color Matching Mistake to Avoid (often neglected)

Some individuals believe that matching colors is as simple as going online and looking for which ones are the most similar.

The issue with your smartphone, tablet, or computer display is that each has its own color palette, thus the colors on them would be distinct and different.

Color Matching With Actual Color Palettes (not on computer, tablet or phone)

Always compare actual color chips or a fan deck when matching paint colors.

And even better if you actually paint samples on the wall and allow time to cure.

This will provide you with the most accurate results.

Summary and Final Thoughts

Matching paint colors is a more difficult process than most people realize.

If you’re looking for a precise match, the best place to start is with the color code.

And if everything else fails, try one of these 3 methods:

  1. Take paint chips to a paint store.
  2. Compare the color deck to various areas
  3. Schedule a color consultation

What’s your experience been like when it comes to matching paint colors?

If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts on the topic, please leave a message!

We’d like to hear from you.

In the comments section below, let us know what your experience has been like matching colors. Did you have success? Or was it a fail?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.