White paint, dependent upon a variety of factors, has the potential to create a space that is cold and sterile or a space that is warm and inviting. For this reason, selecting white paint for your home can be challenging. This guide, and those that will follow, are intended to provide you with the information necessary to make an informed decision when selecting white paint for your home!
There are three concepts that are important to understand when choosing white paint; undertone, light reflective value, and sun exposure.
Aside from (true) white, (true) black, and primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), all colors have an undertone. Undertones, secondary to the predominant color, or overtone, are the result of mixing colors. Warm colors have red, orange, and yellow undertones. Cool colors have green, blue, and violet undertones.
White paint, unless true white, will have warm undertones or cool undertones.
Light Reflective Value
Light reflective value (LRV) refers to the amount of light absorbed by and reflected from a color. It is measured on a scale of 0 (black / absorbs all of the light) to 100 (white / reflects all of the light). Thus, dark colors with a low LRV will contribute to a dark and moody aesthetic, whereas light colors with a high LRV will contribute to a light and airy aesthetic.
That said, it is important to note that, in order for white paint to reflect light, there must be light to reflect. While it might seem intuitive to paint a dimly lit room bright white, the lack of light may cast shadows in areas of particular low light, for example, the corners.
It is also important to note that white paint will reflect both light and color. The color reflected by white paint will be dependent upon both the colors within and surrounding the space and color secondary to sun exposure.
North-facing sun exposure will result in diffused, indirect light with cool undertones throughout the day.
Rooms with east-facing sun exposure will receive direct light with warm undertones in the morning and early afternoon, which will shift to indirect light with cool undertones in the late afternoon and evening.
South-facing sun exposure will result in bright, direct light throughout the day.
Rooms with west-facing sun exposure will receive indirect light with cool undertones in the morning and early afternoon, which will shift to direct light with warm undertones in the late afternoon and evening.
Next week, we'll continue to explore how to choose white paint for your home and discuss the concepts of undertone, light reflective value, anas they apply to a variety of white paints from Benjamin Moore!