How Does Light Affect Paint Color?

June 29, 2021

Luxury bathroom with wall lamp lighting as well as natural light streaming through sliding window illuminating tan-colored walls and two different shadesHave you ever fallen in love with a paint color when you viewed it at a retail store, only to discover later that it looked totally different—and unappealing—when you dabbed some of it on the walls at your home? Or maybe you know someone who chose gray for an exterior home painting project, and the color looked beautiful every morning but took on an unwanted lavender hue in the late afternoon.

Choosing the right paint color for your interior or exterior home makeover can be tricky. Features like house or room size and ambience play a role in selecting the ideal paint colors, but the effects of lighting—both natural and artificial—top the list of factors to consider.

Perception Is Everything

To understand how light affects paint color, it’s helpful to think about how the brain perceives color. When we look at an object and deem it blue, gray, red, or yellow, we’re actually identifying how it looks based on how it reflects or absorbs light. When the intensity of the light changes, so will our perception of color. There are also complexities related to whether a light source is emitting more wavelengths of red light, which will make a color appear warmer and richer, or blue light, which can create a washed-out effect. This means that changes in lighting can bring out the undertones in any given paint color, thus making it appear to be a different hue at various times of the day, as well as at night, when the artificial light sources take over.

If you have a home painting project in mind and you’d like to avoid the regret of choosing the wrong paint color without having to undertake a scientific study of optics, you can turn with confidence to the experts at Southern Painting. We offer professional consultations that can guide you toward the ideal paint colors as well as the best type of paint (gloss, semi-gloss, or matte) for your particular project.

Contact Southern Painting today for more information and to find out if we have local painters serving your community in the Southern United States.

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