How Do I Match a Paint Color?

We’ve all tried to make a small drywall repair or remove a scratch from the trim and realized we now had to repaint. Paint can take on a life of its own after being exposed to smoke, cooking grease, and incense, so although we have the original paint, it no longer matches. The pros approach this problem by matching the paint as closely as possible, depending on the situation.

How Do I Match a Paint Color?

Paint matching used to be done visually by paint pros having years and years of experience. Today, a computer can not only match a paint shade, they can make slight adjustments as well. For example, if you are color matching an exterior paint, some paint pros will ask you which side of the home the color will be one. This allows them to make subtle changes that might be exposed to more, or less, sunlight.

You’ll need a sample about the size of a quarter that is as smooth and clean as possible. You can take that sample to any paint store or home improvement store and give it to the paint technician. The paint pro will use your sample to allow the computer to formulate a mixture that matches your sample. The best ones have a great eye and can make micro adjustments to the mixture for a perfect match.

How Do I Get a Sample to Take to the Paint Store?

You can get your sample in a few ways, but often the easiest way is to find a piece of debris. If you need the paint as a result of a repair, often a scrap of the demolition material will be enough. If you don’t have any debris, you can also search for the original paint can. Even if there is not enough to do any real painting, often there will be enough to paint a scrap for a sample.

When all else fails, you can just steal a sample from somewhere and replace it when you get your paint. For example, if your color matching project involves drywall, you can use a sharp utility knife and remove a sample of the paper. It’s best to take your sample from an inconspicuous place like a closet or behind a toilet tank. Once you have your color matched paint, you can skim coat the hole and paint back over it.

How Much Color Matched Paint Should I Buy?

Always buy a little more color matched paint than you need. Most paint companies warn customers that exactly matching the same paint twice is not always possible. So, they recommend that you buy about 10% more than you think you will need and mix them together. This process is called boxing, and ensures that all of your paint is the same color.