You might be considering painting your walls — whether you want a change of scenery or you enjoy the mental benefits of painting, such as its fostering of creative energy and its strengthening of memory. Whether you're a homeowner or contractor, white paint is a staple of any renovation project.
However, finding the perfect white paint color can be tricky. There are so many of them after all! Although there are many paints that can give you white walls, we've compiled a list of things you should consider and do that can help narrow down the list.
First, you need to get to know the different undertones that can be present in white paint. Then, you'll need to consider the lighting of the room you're painting, your hard finishes, any other paint color that will be in the room and any accessories that will go in the room. Before you order your paint, you'll want to test your favorite shades of white that you'll have picked out before this step. Finally, you'll order your favorite shade of white paint and get to painting.
Get to Know the Nuances in White: The Undertones
White paints have undertones like any color, which is why it's important to choose your paint from a large paint company, such as Benjamin Moore. They will have a larger selection of white paints with different undertones.
Typically, shades of white are divided into two main groups — warm whites and cool whites. It doesn't matter whether you want a room to have warm or cool undertones. The important part is picking an undertone and sticking with it for every decision about the room.
For example, if you have cool white walls in a room with a warm orange accent wall, these colors may clash with one another. If you chose an accent wall of a cool blue in this room, there would be less clashing. Another example of a clashing pair would be warm white walls and a violet rug. Whereas a magenta rug would complement the warm white walls.
These white paint colors will have yellow, orange or red undertones. Examples of warm, white paint colors are the following:
These white paint colors will have blue, green or gray undertones. Examples of cool, white paint colors are the following:
Neutral whites are more versatile than warm and cool whites, so if you're not sure how you're going to design a room, you might consider painting it a neutral white. An example of neutral white paint is Benjamin Moore Simply White OC-117.
These white paints don't have the addition of undertones. The best example of a pure white paint we would direct you to is Benjamin Moore Pure White OC-64. If you're looking to paint the trim in your house white, pure white may be your best bet.
Can't Detect the Undertones of a White Paint?
You might be wondering if you should choose a warm white or a cool white if you've chosen to design a room to be neutral in color overall. Experts will typically advise you to pick a warm white.
Not sure whether you're looking at a warm white or a cool white? It can help to differentiate between different white paints to hold your swatches against a white piece of paper. You can also take a glance at the bottom of a paint swatch against different tones of white because the bottom of the paint swatch will have a white with no undertones present. Asking a product expert is also a good idea when you are confused about what undertones a white paint might have.
It's important to consider the lighting of a room when you're choosing what white paint color to paint the walls. Is it bathed in a fair amount of natural light? If you're not convinced you're going to paint the walls white, a room that is often filled with natural light helps white paint make the room look larger. That being said, once you've decided you're going to paint the walls white, how does lighting factor into what shade of white you're going to choose?
Rooms with a lot of natural light should be painted with whites that have less of a pigment. Rooms with less natural light should be painted with whites that have more of a pigment.
If you're painting south-facing rooms white, you have the pick of the draw when it comes to what tones of white will work in these rooms. North-facing rooms will look best with warm whites, so if you were looking to paint some north-facing rooms with a cool white, you might reconsider. East- and west-facing rooms appear warm and cool in terms of lighting throughout the day, so you have freedom with white paint colors when it comes to these rooms.
Typically, you would pair warm whites with warm lighting and cool whites with cool lighting. Hotter lights will be perceived as giving off cold light, whereas cooler lights will be perceived as giving off a warm light. That being said, if you choose a cool white to paint the walls of a room, it's in your best interest to find artificial lighting options that are high in Kelvin. If you choose a warm white paint color for a room, artificial lighting options that are low in Kelvin will complement these walls best.
Consider Your Hard Finishes, Other Paint and Accessories
Consider factors such as the hard finishes and other paint colors that will be in a room, as well as any accessories you might place there when deciding on the best white paint color for your home. That way, you won't have any regrets when you see your newly decorated home come together.
Eggshell or flat finishes are thought to look best with white walls. However, if you're looking for a wall that is easy to wipe down, glossy or semi-gloss finishes are the way to go.
The less sheen your finish gives your walls, the more light your walls will absorb. If you want more light in your white room, an eggshell or satin sheen is your best bet. On the other hand, if you want your walls to absorb less light, consider using white paint with a high-gloss finish.
Other Paint Colors
If you're doing an accent wall or painting the furniture in a room as well as painting white walls, it's in your best interest to match warm whites with warm-toned colors and cool whites with cool-toned colors.
For example, let's say you paint the walls in a room with a cool white, but you also want to paint an old wardrobe of yours. Choosing a warm-toned color, such as olive green may not be a good idea. However, a cool-toned green, such as emerald green, would go perfectly with cool white walls.
Let's say you want to paint your walls a warm white, and you also want to paint an old side table your grandmother left you. You wouldn't want to paint the table a cool-toned color, such as baby pink. You would, however, want to paint the table with a warm-toned color, such as peach.
The colors of the furniture and other accessories that might be in a room should match the undertones of your white walls. For example, if you chose a warm white for your walls, you might pair that with a bright orange couch. On the other hand, a Prussian blue couch would clash with your warm, white walls.
Another example would be if you chose to paint your walls with a cool white. You wouldn't want to buy a warm-toned armchair, like a hot orange color, for the room with cool white walls. You would, however, want to buy a cool-toned armchair, such as a coral color.
Test Your Favorite Shades
Before you determine your favorite shades of white paint, it might help to check out the most recent color trends. For example, at the moment, pure white with no color undertones reads more modern than whites with warm or cool tones. An example of a pure white would be Benjamin Moore Pure White OC-64. That being said, if you're not into trends, follow your gut!
You might have been in a position before when you've bought a gallon of a paint color that looks great on paper but ends up not working well in the room you paint. You can help avoid this situation by buying paint samples of your favorite shades of white paint and testing each sample on a portion of a wall. This is especially important if you're buying paint online because colors typically look different online than they do in real life.
Your perception of a paint color might change when you see it in tandem with the lighting of a room and the space of the room. Finding it really difficult to tell if a certain color is working in a room? Paint a whole wall! You'll get a much better idea if that color works for you when you're done. If you don't want to commit to painting an entire wall, you can always paint a 9 by 12 Bristol board and move it around the room so you can see what the paint color looks like on different walls of the room.
Are White Walls a Good Idea for My House?
White walls are especially good for your house if you want your smaller rooms to appear larger. White paint can also be good for rooms that you want to appear clean. As an example, let's say you have a small bathroom that you want to appear larger and to seem fresh and clean. White paint would meet both of these goals.
Culturally, the color white holds certain connotations, such as purity, integrity and innocence. If you want a room in your home to emanate any of these connotations, white paint is going to be a useful tool in helping you make this happen. For example, maybe you want your nursery to emanate the innocence of childhood, or maybe you want your meditation room to feel full of integrity and purity from the walls. White paint is going to be your best friend in either situation.
If you have small kids or pets and you're pressed for time when it comes to cleaning, white walls may not be your best bet as they tend to show dirt easier than walls painted in other colors. If the payoff of crisp, clean and fresh white walls is bigger to you than the mess, then you can most certainly still paint your walls white if you have small kids or pets.
Order Online From Aboff's Paints
At Aboff's Paints, you're sure to find the right white paint for your home. Why? We're the number one retailer of Benjamin Moore paints on Long Island, and our employees are considered product experts. If you need help finding the perfect white paint, we're here and ready to share our knowledge with you. Whether you have questions about what white paint color might look best in a specific room of your home or you have questions about what a particular white paint color's undertones might be, we want to help!
Set on painting some or all of the walls in your home white? Check out our favorite and most popular white and off-white paint colors. New to painting? Check out our how-to articles on painting. We want your first time painting to be as stress-free as possible. Find a store located near you or call us at 631-427-2008 to start your journey to fresh, white walls.