When Paint Chips Lie and Why

Hiring an interior painting company means that you get the benefit of someone else doing the vast majority of the dirty work. Often that will include color consultations if the company you choose has a designer or adviser on staff. What your interior painting company can’t do for you is make the final decisions when it comes to choosing paint colors. That makes sense, considering that you’ll be the one actually living with those colors, day in and day out, until you decide it’s time to repaint.

The first thing you do when you make that decision – before even calling around to find interior painting companies in MA or your area – may be taking a trip to the hardware store to check out the paint chips. Who doesn’t love poring over chip after chip of gorgeous pastels and saturated hues and, really, who knew that there are so many different kinds of white? You’ll probably go home with fistfuls of chips and strips in every color under the rainbow. Maybe you’ll even tack them up on your walls to see what they look like under different lighting conditions – a smart move.

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After a while, you’ll whittle down your choices to just a few and then to just one (or sometimes two) for each room. You bring them to your painter and the job gets started. Maybe you poke your head in while the painting crew is working and that’s when you have your very first misgivings. But you brush them off because paint can look pretty different until it’s dry. A week later, though, you’re still looking at each room painted and thinking, this isn’t the color that was on that paint chip. No way.

But actually, as your painting company will no doubt confirm, it is – at least in name. Here are just some of the things that might have happened:

  • The Light’s All Wrong: A paint chip will look one way under store lighting and one way in your home; that’s obvious. But it will also look different when tacked to the wall in the a.m. than it will when you’re holding it next to the winder in the afternoon. That’s why it’s always a good idea to buy a test can and paint a square on each of the walls in the room – that’ll give you the best idea of what a color will actually look like in your home, all day long.
  • More Coats are Needed: Some colors, like very saturated primary colors, don’t over the same coverage in two coats that “creamier” colors do. It may be possible to match the color on your paint chip with one, two, or maybe even four more coats.
  • It’s Not the Paint, It’s the Room: It may surprise you to learn that furniture and home accessories can change the way you perceive wall colors. Paint on the walls of an empty room may seem very different from the same paint in a room that is fully furnished. You may need to swap out or update some of your décor to achieve the color effect you were going for.
  • The Chip Lied: Could that paint chip have been faded? Dusty or dirty? Outdated? It’s possible! The paint manufacturer may have changed their formulation and thus the color without the store updating their chips.
  • Chalk It Up to Human Error: Store employees can make mistakes. Your chip may say Evening Primrose and your paint can label may say Evening Primrose but the tint in the base in the can is actually Lunar Falls because somewhere some lines got crossed. If you really absolutely think you got the wrong pigment, head back to the store ASAP.

Unfortunately, when you’ve had your home painted and you feel like the paint chip lied you only have two choices: live with it or repaint. Repainting is always going to be easiest when your home is already set up for painting with furniture out of the way and your favorite things packed up safely. But deciding whether you can live with a color you don’t immediately like can take time. If you do ultimately decide to repaint, the process may go faster if you choose a color one or two shades away from the original one so there won’t be a ton of priming and prep necessary.

At Jerry Enos Painting, we know the right products for the job. Every Massachusetts exterior painting and interior painting project is different, and unlike other MA painting companies, we will always treat your house, building, or surface as one-of-a-kind. Call us for a free estimate at 978-546-6843.