Paint Colors for Different Lighting

Homeowners agonize over undertones and colors for their painting projects. Many are disappointed when their choices don’t perform as expected. Often, the paint is interacting poorly with a light choice in the room causing it to give off a different color. Here’s our recommendations of paint colors for different lighting.

Finished painting results are affected hugely by the lighting put in the room. Brights can be overpowering, whites can look gray and more. To see this effect in person, hold up a black shirt under incandescent lighting and it will look black. Hold the same shirt up in natural sunlight and it can seem navy blue. The paint on your walls is not any different.

Because of this, you’ll need to consider not only the color and finish of your paint but also the lighting you intend to use in the room. A dark hallway with little natural light should be paired with a color that works well with artificial light. Test patches of the color and finish are crucial to ensuring you choose the right color to paint. Be sure to test the color with both natural and artificial lighting in rooms that will have both.

Natural lighting

The location of the room in your house and its direction it faces makes a difference how much light you get in the room. Catering to the morning, evening, or all day light with your color choice will allow you to control the look of the room.

North Facing Rooms

North facing rooms are more difficult to work in, being that they tend to be on the darker side. Light from the north makes colors look washed out and dull. Choosing colors that are gray, blue, green, lavender or any of those undertones are going to appear darker than they are. Choose a color with warm red, gold or orange undertones to counteract the cool light. This is particularly important if you are painting the room white. Choosing dark colors for these rooms can add a feeling of a bigger space.

South Facing Rooms

South facing rooms are easier to work with. Typically, they are filled with light for the majority of the day so most colors look great. Go for lighter options of colors to intensify the look. Dark colors will work well in these rooms since the lighting will counteract the deep shades.

West Facing Rooms

Rooms that face toward the west are a bit more complicated to shop for colors for. The room will experience different amounts of light throughout each day. Darker mornings will make paint look gray, while warm afternoon sun makes it seem brighter. Consider the time of day you intend to spend in this room when choosing your paint options.

East Facing Rooms

East facing rooms have a morning glow that is unmatched. This means you’ll need to give these rooms the same consideration as the west facing rooms. Colors will vary throughout the day so plan for when you intend to use this room the most. Cool colors are great for mornings but warmer undertones are necessary the rest of the day.

Artificial Lighting

For rooms that are naturally darker, you’ll want to see how artificial light plays off of the colors you choose. Evenings and mornings in these rooms are particularly dark so work in the brighter and lighter paint hues. If you intend to exclusively rely on lamps and bulbs, test the color in a patch with the bulbs you will use. This ensures your color will look its best in the room with the light you’ll have in place.

Fluorescent Lighting

There is an unmistakable blue tint that comes off of fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs work better with blues and greens on the walls. There are bulbs to replace the blue tint with a yellow and warm color. Changing the bulbs in the room will change the look of the paint on the walls. Be sure to use the appropriate bulbs you will have in the room when you do test colors.

Halogen Lighting

Halogen bulbs are the closest to a natural light you will find. The light they produce is a white light that doesn’t lean blue or yellow. These lights will affect the color of your paint the least. You should feel confident with warm or cool colors paired with these bulbs. Still test your paint to be sure of the finished product.

Incandescent Lighting

Incandescent lighting gives a warmer light off, typically with yellow or amber undertones. This can be used to enhance reds, oranges or yellow colors, making them seem brighter. If you pair it with cool colors like green and blue, they will feel more muted and dull. Keep in mind that many places are no longer stocking incandescent bulbs. As they are phased out, you may not be able to replace your bulbs with the same colors.

Schedule an Estimate

At CertaPro Painters, we are experts at working with the natural lighting in our area to ensure you get the best results possible. We have color consultants on staff to assist you in your choices with their expertise. Schedule a free, no-obligation estimate appointment with our team today.