How To Choose The Perfect White Paint

How To Choose The Perfect White Paint | Dream Green DIY

Now that the cat’s out of the bag (i.e. our home is finally under contract and we have a brand new home under contract for ourselves out of town), I can finally share the few updates that we’re planning behind the scenes. I may not be comfortable enough with our situation to share “before” photos of our next house, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that painting will be a number one priority. That said, if our current townhouse has taught me anything, it’s that vibrant color on the walls isn’t necessarily a good idea. I’ve painted and repainted too many rooms because I started out too boldly, so I plan to choose one color to unite the spaces in our next house: white.

The problem is that there are an incredible amount of whites to choose from. Deciding to go “white” doesn’t mean that there’s a one-size-fits-all shade, so we’ll have to take our time choosing the right one for our home. Today, I’m sharing a few of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help you in your own quest for the perfect white paint. Oh, and by the way, although all of these swatches sport the Behr logo, this post is in no way sponsored by the brand. I just happened to be at Home Depot while on the hunt, and so we walked away with a stack of their paint chips.

How To Choose The Perfect White Paint | Dream Green DIY

Cool white or warm white?

For me, the first step was deciding if I wanted to go with a warm shade of white or a cool one. In other words, does your ideal shade of white sport a hint of orange or red, or does it fall on the gray side with hints of blue or purple? For me, it’s all about the cool end of the spectrum. Behr actually makes things pretty easy in that they use the white’s undertone as a category for organization. As you can see in the detail shot below, the chip’s number has a couple of letters in front of the dash, followed by “W” and then the number. Those first few letters denote the undertone, so “OR” stands for orange undertones, “PR” stands for purple, “BL” stands for blue, and so on.

If you’re not quite sure which way you want go, try grabbing your favorite white paint chips from the hardware store and then place them on a sheet of white computer paper. You should be able to tell pretty quickly which end of the spectrum it leans towards, and then you’ll have a better idea of your preference.

How To Choose The Perfect White Paint | Dream Green DIY

Preview before painting

I’ve always been the type to rush into paint choices, so I typically look at swatches in the store, choose my color right there, and get a big gallon mixed up without even going home to check the paint swatches against our specific room’s atmosphere. The fatal error here is that colors look completely different in different spaces. If you’ve noticed, even just looking down on a paint chip on the stand and then picking it up to look at it at eye level often reveals what seems like two totally unique colors. So, I ask you to learn from my lesson and at least take the paint chips home before choosing your white.

If you want to go the extra mile, choose your favorite two or three chips and then order paint samples. Sure, it delays the fun for a few days, but there’s nothing worse than having to repaint a room because you rushed into it.

How To Choose The Perfect White Paint | Dream Green DIY

Different shades for different spaces

Alas, when I say that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all white paint, I mean that even different rooms within a single house may benefit from different shades of white. It might seem like overkill to vacillate between three or four different whites between rooms, but light is a tricky thing and loves to mess with your eyes. For example, an interior bathroom with fluorescent lighting, cream tile and purple countertops (yes, we will be dealing with this in House Number Two) needs one shade of white, whereas a light-filled room with vaulted ceilings (!!!) needs a totally different shade of white.

So, my advice to you if you’re dealing with the same situation is to take things one room at a time. We actually picked up three of each shade of white from the paint chip aisle so that we could tape them all up in three rooms at once. Many of them will likely take a repeat shade, but if there’s an exception, we’ll be able to spot it before having to repaint.

Spoiler alert: I think Ultra Pure White be the one for us, but have you found your own perfect shade of white? Please, oh please, share the details with us in the comments.

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