paint roller

Common Problems why Paint Does not Match Swatch Colors

Written by David | December 6, 2023

You are getting ready to paint your house. On the way home you went to the paint store to get paint swatches of colors you like. To make sure you like the colors, you bought sample quarts and painted your walls. When the paint dries- What the Heck! The Paint does not match the swatch Colors!

Hey Everyone- David at Dfranco Painting and Wallpaper here in Huntley, IL. Helping you with your questions on painting and wallpaper. This question was also our problem last week. As we were painting a house in Huntley, Painting in Pingree grove and Painitng in Barrington, we had 3 separate jobs where the paint and paint swatch were off. So lets look at why and what you can do to make sure it does happen to you! We are takig a peek at the 2 brand we use the most, Sherwin Willliams and Benjamin Moore.

paint color not matching paint swatches

Reasons paint colors may be wrong- Benjamin Moore

Let’s start with Benjamin Moore. We do use this paint, but as needed or when requested. Our reasons have been cost, locations and issues with color. They have great paint and colors. We are just tired of dealing with issues that cost us time and money. So – we have found that:

  • BM colors are printed. (most are) These are printed in different areas of the country. So with different printers come different colors. There doesn’t seem to be any standard color verification process to verify color from location to location, or from different runs/years. Which means you can have color 1 from 3 different printers. They are dispursed at dozens of different stores- giving you a variation in color form store to store.
  • Paint bases and Paint tints change every 2 years or so. If the paint swatches have not been updated or you have old fand decks- the color may be different
  • proprietary colors. Each paint company has colors they pride themselves on. These paints are made by using, a base and tints that other companies do not use. For example, if BEhr uses black tints and SHerwin uses black tint the colors should match. But if one of these do not use black but use other colors to get black- the paint color will never match.
  • matching chips vs computer match. This gets to the paint swatches again- if a swatch is being used to make or have the paint matched too- at store A, but store B uses the computer formula- there will be a difference.
matching color by eye or hand

Problems with wrong colors – Sherwin Williams

By and far the most common problem with paint colors being wrong is older or outdated paint chips. Next would be name or color spelled wrong. Lastly, it is trying to make a competitors color.

There are certain colors, that just cannot be made from one brand to another. Using a swatch to verify the color you want is the best method to make sure this issue does not happen to you! Paint stores with experience and good reps will just tell you that up front. These people will let you know up front- it will not match or be off by “x” percent.

We have been using Sherwin for some time now and we have had very little (zero) issues with colors being wrong due to swatch or color matches. Im not 100% sure why, but they seem to be more systematized which helps reduce these issues taking human error out of the equation. AGAIN.. best way to make sure this does not happen is to have the paint swatch in hand use it to verify color you want.

Other top reasons paint colors do not match

Some of these reasons may be the same as above. We just want to make sure you know what we know to be better informed.

  • To be 100% fair across the board- every paint maker will tell you color from swatch to paint can vary 1-3%.
  • old paint swatches. Paints ae updated often. New tints, new base formulas from year to year change the coloration
  • human error. Did you know that people with blue and brown eyes see color differently? With that in mind- your color may look different because of eye color!
  • lighting affects colors. Different light makes color look different. Time of day the sun will shift color appearance. Fluorescent vs LED will make a difference.
  • Reflection. As you paint, reflection will matter. If you have a lot of green trees outside your window, that green will refect in your home, affecting the color. Have you ever painted red? the red turns white paint colors pint because of reflection!
  • Sheen. the sheen of paint will change how colors appear as well. (this is a issues with swatches more than anything else)

How to make sure your paint colors are correct.

Lets list this one out…

  • give your painter a list of name and number of colors you want
  • if you have paint swatches- take them to store or give them to the painter so the color can be matched
  • make sure you have the most up to date color swatches
  • hire a designer to do the work for you!

HAve other questions about painting- let us know how we can help!

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