Ask The Painter: About Sample Chips

July 06, 2010

Does Actual Paint Come Out Lighter or Darker then Sample Chips?

Paint_ChipsThis is a fairly common question with a not-so-straight forward answer: both and neither. Let me explain. In the ideal world, every can of paint mixed would dry out to the color that exactly matches the sample chip from the store. But we do not live in an ideal world and there are many factors that can introduce minor variations that could cause the actual paint to appear slightly lighter or darker than the sample chip. If you look on the back of the sample chip, it will probably have a statement to the effect of the color being representative, but not necessarily exact.

Among the factors that come into play are: variances in how much “base” paint is in the bucket shipped from the factory, variances in tint machine calibrations where the highly concentrated pigments are metered into the base paint at the paint store, and the color over which the new paint is being applied. In addition, paint that has been up for a while may shift its color slightly due to environmental factors.

Computer controlled manufacturing and tinting has gone a long way toward reducing variations from the color chip standard, but it is not possible to have zero variations. For this reason, it is advisable to buy all the paint needed for a job at the same store where it can be “tinted” on the same machine, and to save paint for touch-ups. Buying touch-up paint at a later date could result in the touch-up paint being slightly off due to minor base paint or machine calibration differences.

The differences in color are very subtle, yet still potentially noticeable. Perhaps a bigger factor in how the paint compares to the sample chip is what type and color the surface being painted is currently. For a correct match to the color chip, many colors will need two (or more) coats, possibly involving tinted primers or gray primers. Every quote we give will specify how many coats and what kind of primer is needed, and we will explain why. If you have a project you’ve been meaning to get to and would like a professionally prepared quote for painting, give us a call today.

Copyright 2009 Jeff Stec

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