Does Paint Dry Lighter or Darker Than the Color Swatch?

» Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

One question commonly asked by homeowners in the painting industry is: “Will the paint color I choose appear lighter or darker than it does on the color swatch?” In short, the answer is neither. If mixed properly, the color should remain true to the color swatch. However there are a few psychological and environmental factors that play into how a color appears.


  1. First of all, our eyes can play tricks on us. The scientific word for this is Metamerism. This phenomenon is when a color looks different to the viewer under different circumstances. When selecting paint colors, our eyes automatically compare colors to the surrounding shades and colors. Look at a color individually either by paint-sampling or by using large single swatches for a true impression of a color’s value.
  2. When choosing a color for an already painted room we might also psychologically compare the prospective color with the current color. If you hold up a paint chip to a dark blue or red wall, the color will automatically change to your eye. This is another effect of metamerism. For a true representation of a color selection, look at the color against a white background or against your trim color.

same color, different sheen


  1. Light significantly affects color, both the type of light and amount of light can change how a color appears. Natural light, incandescent, fluorescent, LED and halogen lighting will all slightly alter the way a color appears in a room. For instance, some lighting will cast blue tones whereas others might cast yellow tones. Therefore, it is very important to choose a color in the prospective room’s natural lighting.
  2. Sheen (the type of finish you choose) also affects the color. Flat paint has a chalky appearance, absorbs light, and can make a color look slightly lighter than the swatch color.  Glossy paint will typically make a color look darker because the sheen reflects the light, causing the color to be darker. An Eggshell or Matte finish generally stays very close to the swatch color because it neither reflects nor absorbs light.

Call Bear Mountain Painting if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a free estimate. We service Atlanta and the surrounding areas of Northern Georgia.

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