The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Perfect White

You are working on a home project, so you head to the paint store to buy some white paint. But to your surprise, when you arrive you discover that buying white paint is not that straightforward. In front of you lies a grand display of every color imaginable, including 5,027 different shades of white. You find a shade that looks like it will work, make your way home, and begin the long arduous process of painting your room with your beloved white paint. When you finish, you step back to admire your work but are horrified to find that the room you just finished painting white is not white. It looks blue (or yellow, pink, purple, or green). Yikes!

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.

Thankfully, there is a better way to select the perfect shade of white for your home. Here is our step-by-step guide to finding the perfect white paint, plus a list of our favorite whites to get you started!

1. Location, Location, Location

Look at the room you are painting. Is it a south-facing room that gets lots of natural light or is it a dark north-facing space? What type of artificial light will you use in the room (i.e., bright pot lights, warm ambient lighting, fluorescent lighting)? What other colors or tones will be present in the room (i.e., a fabulous blue velvet sofa, creamy white cabinets, or natural hardwood floors)?

Each one of these things will be important to keep in mind as you select the white you will use for your home.

Image: Braemyn Homes | Modern Rustic Cottage

2. Understanding Undertones

When you get to the paint store, you will hear a lot of talk about undertones. If you are new to the world of paint, this just refers to the underlying colors that make a color what it is. For example, in the scenario above, the blue, yellow, pink, purple, or green color you were horrified to see refers to the undertone of that shade of white.

Whites have a wide range of undertones and the factors we considered in Step 1 will affect which undertones will appear and how. An easy test to see which undertones a particular of white has in it is to hold up a piece of white printer paper next to it. Generally speaking, cooler whites will have blue or green undertones, while warmer whites will have yellow or pink ones.

How do you know which undertones are right for your space?

It comes down to finding an undertone that will coordinate well with the other colors and materials in the room and that will give the room the feel that you want it to have.

Here are a few examples:

Warm White

We wanted to use a white that would feel warm and inviting and tie in well with those gorgeous white oak floors, so we chose a warmer white with more yellow undertones.

Image: Braemyn Homes | Killarney Residences

Cool White

We wanted this home to feel crisp and clean, especially during the day with those gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows, so we used a cooler white with more blue undertones.

Image: Braemyn Homes | Western Elegant Cottage

3. Testing 1, 2, 3…

So you’ve figured out which undertones are right for your space and found a couple of options that could work. Now what?

Most paint stores sell sample tins of paint so you can try the color out before committing to an entire gallon of paint. Grab a few sample tins of the colors you are considering and some poster paper. Paint the poster paper with the samples and hang them on a wall of the room you are painting. Live with them for a few days to get a feel for the colors. During this time, move the papers around to different walls and look at them at different points in the day to get an overall sense of what the color looks like in your space.

4. Purchase Paint

When you find a color you are happy with, it’s time to buy paint! As you head to the paint store, though, there are a few more things to keep in mind.

The first is the quality of the paint. Paint stores offer a variety of different grades of paint with a range of applications and uses. Higher quality paints, though, tend to have a higher amount of coverage per gallon and yield a better end result. When in doubt, you can always ask a sales associate which type of paint is best suited for your project.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure that you choose the right sheen for your paint. As a rule of thumb, flat or matte finishes are generally used for ceilings, matte or eggshell sheens are used for walls and pearl or semi-gloss sheens are used for trim and cabinets.

Image: Braemyn Homes | 10th Street Residence

5. Our Top 10 Picks

And there you have it: our ultimate guide to picking the perfect shade of white for your home as well as some of our favorites to get you started! Happy painting!

About Us

Braemyn Homes is Calgary’s custom home building and renovation specialist. Whether you are looking to build your forever home or make room for a growing family, our clients can expect the highest standard of excellence delivered with exceptional craftsmanship and superb customer care. Call us at (403) 606-2923 or fill out our contact form to see how we can help you create the home of your dreams.

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