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Why Does my Paint Colour Look Different on the Wall?



Why does your paint colour look completely different on the wall than it did in the store? There are a number of reasons why a paint colour may look different than you might have expected once you’ve painted it on your walls.

Sheen: A flat paint reflects less light than a glossy sheen, affecting how the colour will read when dry. Did you know that paint chips are produced in a flat sheen? If you choose a paint with a shinier sheen, such as semi-gloss or gloss, drip a drop or two of water on the paint chip to get a better idea of how the paint will look when dry.

Gloss level and colour may be affected by the texture and the porosity of a surface (how much a surface soaks up the paint), along with atmospheric conditions.

Lighting: Colour looks different under different lighting. The natural light in a room changes, at different times of day and as seasons change. Artificial light can also change the appearance of a colour. One wall in a room could look slightly different during the bright light of day, because it receives the full force of that daylight compared to the other walls in the room.

Placement: Even though every wall in a room is painted the same colour, that colour can appear differently on different surfaces, caused by the angle of the surface or the location in the room to the light sources.  

What’s Underneath: The existing colour over which a new colour is painted can also affect the final look, especially if any wall isn’t fully covered in the new colour and the existing colour is 'bleeds' through.

When indicated on our colour cards by a *, be sure to use a tinted primer for these darker or more vibrant colours to ensure the proper depth of colour is achieved.

Undertone: Every colour has an undertone, whether it be cool or warm, and it can be tricky to pick a shade that is just right for the other colours and conditions. To detect the base colour of any of our lighter tones, head up the colour family card to the darkest tone and that will help you determine the base colour of a neutral - red, yellow, violet etc. – and its undertone. Read ‘Understanding the Undertones of Neutrals & Whites’ for more tips on determining the undertone of neutrals.

What’s Adjacent: Colour can also be affected by what other colours are adjacent to it, either reflecting onto it or if it is a complementary colour. For example, red is the complement to green, and placing these two colours side by side has the affect of amplifying the undertone of each.

Online vs Real Life: If exploring our colours on our website, keep in mind that because of variations in monitors and printers, the CIL paints shown on your computer, tablet or mobile device may vary slightly from the actual paint colour. Before making your final choice, pick up the colour cards and/or tester pots at your local CIL paint retailer to see which colour choice works best for your home
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