Choosing the Right White Paint

Choosing a white paint may seem like an easy task, but it can be trickier than you might think once you start to see how many subtle variances there are for white in the paint industry. The reason white paint can be difficult is because of tones, undertones and sheens. Here’s our simple guide to choosing the right white paint.

The way white painted walls appear can vary greatly depending on the lighting in a home. The color of the  light, neighboring colors, and other factors in the room can all change how the end product looks on a white painted wall. A pure white hall with a natural white light bulb can seem off yellow. The same wall across from a blue wall will take on the tint of the color. White trim against a green wall will also look a bit green. For all of these reasons, getting the white wall or trim you want is more difficult than it seems. If you would like professional assistance with color selection, we can help with our paint color consulting services.

The most common question to paint mixologists is what’s the difference between white, extra white or pure white. The truth is, none will be exact white, because of the surrounding furniture, accessories and walls.

Here are a few guidelines to get your started with your choice.


If your space has lower natural light, a cool white will look shadowy and gray. Pick a white with warm undertones to make it look more welcoming. If the room is lacking in outside lighting through windows, consider even a greige instead. The space will feel white and opened up, but not cold.

The opposite is true as well. If your room has an abundance of natural light flooding in, a cooler white with blue tones will keep the color from presenting as a yellow.

Sherwin-Williams Extra White for a well lit room with a modern look.
Sherwin-Williams Pure White for a lower light room that has a soft feel.


Almost all of the time homeowners overthink their trim. Experts suggest always going for an untinted white. Don’t worry about tones and shades. The white will be find in small amounts, like trim, and won’t show up as a tinted, toned color.

The only exception to this rule is with kitchen cabinets. When it comes to larger projects like cabinets, choose either Sherwin-Williams Extra White or Benjamin Moore White. It’s a bit softer of a color than the untinted white and the color will hold up well.


Choosing to paint a whole room white can give it a very sterile feel. Instead, vary the colors by several shades within the same warm or cool family. Using creamy or blue toned whites will give the room more depth while still reading white.


Another way to give depth to your whites is by using different finishes. Flat works great for ceilings, especially when paired with eggshell or satin for the walls and semi-gloss trim. It gives the room definition while still being white.


The most sure way to know if a color will work in your home is to do a thorough test. Bring home sample and paint a large swath of the color on the wall. If you aren’t sure you want to paint, experts suggest painting a poster board and hanging it various places around the room to test for color, lighting and furniture compatibility.


Need a hand with a painting project? We can help. Set up a free estimate appointment online.