How to use tech to pick your paint colors

Light is among the greatest components in how a paint colour seems to be on your wall. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You’re prepared to give your home a refresh. Maybe you’ve got been observing greige office walls for a lot too lengthy, otherwise you’re shifting children into their very own rooms or simply desire a new colour for your lounge.

Picking the correct paint can rework your house. Staring at rows of colors in your native house enchancment retailer, it is easy to really feel overwhelmed with selections. It’s additionally simple to love a colour within the retailer, however hate the best way it seems as soon as it is on your wall. If you are attempting to match an previous colour, it may well get much more difficult.

Here to assist are a handful of smart sensors and mobile apps. With a bit of assist from tech, you possibly can confidently wield a paintbrush and add simply the correct hue to your house.

What impacts paint colour

Light is among the greatest components affecting how colour interprets on your wall. In a house enchancment retailer, you are doubtless taking a look at a paint chip underneath a show lit by a powerful fluorescent mild — very totally different from the sunshine in your house. Take that very same paint chip house and it may look completely totally different.

That’s as a result of your house’s synthetic and pure mild play a task in how colour seems. Intersecting partitions may even appear to be totally different shades on the similar time of day, if every wall receives a special quantity of sunshine from the room’s home windows.

Your paint’s end or sheen additionally makes a distinction in how colour is perceived. A flat paint end (like what you will discover on most paint chips) will not mirror as a lot mild as a high-gloss sheen, so a flat end tends to look a bit darker. Often, increased gloss finishes are good for bogs, kitchens and rooms that see extra moisture. Flatter finishes work properly in areas like bedrooms and dwelling rooms.

How expertise reads colour

Color interprets to laptop by way of a collection of values. Knowing these values for the shade you want may also help you navigate sensors and apps, and match colour precisely throughout manufacturers. The commonest values for colour are HEX, CMYK and RGB.

Typically digital screens and screens that emit mild use RGB (crimson, inexperienced, blue) colour values, whereas CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) values are the usual for printed supplies like newspapers and magazines, which soak up mild. The hex methodology of valuing colour is used to talk RGB values in laptop programming, reminiscent of HTML. Once you understand you desired colour’s worth, you will have the opportunity to discover it in almost each medium on the market.

Virtual portray and color-matching apps

Many main paint producers have web sites and apps designed to make it easier to select a paint colour. Sherwin-Williams, Valspar and Behr all have web sites with digital design studios the place you possibly can attempt paint on in an uploaded picture of your house. It’s not an ideal system by any means, and the colour and lightweight settings on your laptop monitor or cellular system will have an effect on the way you see the colour. Still, digital portray is an efficient method to slim down your selections and make it easier to determine between totally different seems to be.

All this colour selecting is manageable in case you’re portray a model new or well-primed wall. Things get trickier when paint matching is your aim. Like garments, automobile colors and pictures hung in daylight, paint colors additionally fade over time. Even if you understand a wall’s unique paint colour, a brand new coat of paint may look off both due to colour fading or lack of sheen.

“Paint on walls fade over time and the sheen changes,” Angela Kirkpatrick, a residential designer, notes. “Even if you get a chunk of wall beside an outlet, it may not match the color and sheen in the middle of the wall where the TV was mounted. A difference in wall sheen can cause a color to look very different.”

If you want to match new paint to an previous colour, you will doubtless want the assistance of greater than only a paint chip. Here’s the place tech can actually help.

Paint producers and third-party app designers alike supply colour matching apps that analyze colour in pictures taken with your telephone’s digicam or photographs uploaded from your telephone’s library. With a superb picture of your wall, you may have the opportunity to give you the closest attainable match from a wide range of paint producers.

ColorSnap Match by Sherwin-Williams


ColorSnap by Sherwin-Williams gives colour matching from your telephone’s digicam or picture library. 

Screenshot by Molly Price/CNET

Sherwin-Williams gives an app known as ColorSnap Match, that enables you to add an present picture or take a brand new picture to discover paint colors that match it. There’s additionally a digital portray instrument, and a number of methods to discover all of the Sherwin-Williams paint collections. The app consists of RGB colour values for Sherwin-Williams paints, lists of coordinating colors for every paint, in addition to the colour strip you’d discover them on in a ironmongery shop. The app is free and works on iOS and Android gadgets. 

ColorSensible by Behr

Behr’s ColorSmart app works a lot the identical because the Sherwin-Williams app, with choices to take new pictures or add present ones. You may also view chosen colors in generic scenes like kitchens or bogs. The free app works with each iOS and Android gadgets.

Project Color by The Home Depot

The Home Depot offers a color app that pulls from a number of manufacturers bought at Home Depot shops. You can match colors by you telephone’s digicam or picture library and examine outcomes on the partitions of a room by your telephone’s digicam lens in actual time.

Color Grab

Color Grab is a third-party app that identifies colour in actual time utilizing your digicam’s viewfinder. Once you’ve got saved the colour, you possibly can view its profile, together with the hex code, CMYK and RGB values. Color Grab may also match colors from pictures in your telephone’s library. The app is free and works with Android gadgets.

Unlike the branded apps from paint producers, third-party apps sense colour with out attempting to promote you a selected paint. The draw back is that there are no branded paint colors to select from as outcomes. You’ll merely have the opportunity to determine the colour worth of the article or wall you are scanning. Once you’ve got acquired a colour worth, you possibly can use that to discover a matching paint colour, doubtless through the use of the RGB worth, as it’s the mostly used worth within the paint business. There are even online converters that may match colour values to a number of paint manufacturers.

Color-sensing gadgets

When it comes to measuring colour, spectrometers have lengthy been the business customary. With costs within the hundreds, difficult processes and ponderous designs, these high-tech gadgets are sometimes out of attain for the typical DIYer, however a number of the fundamental concepts behind spectrometers are exhibiting up in colour sensing gadgets you possibly can slot in your pocket for underneath $100.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Nix Color Sensor Mini

At $100, this colour sensor is not precisely low-cost, nevertheless it may make life so much simpler for anybody matching a number of paint colors. The pre-calibrated Nix Color Sensor Mini blocks out ambient mild and makes use of a calibrated mild supply to learn a floor’s colour. The sensor then sends that studying to your telephone by way of Bluetooth and the Nix Paints or Nix Digital app, the place you possibly can match colors to a dozen totally different paint manufacturers within the US and Canada.


The Color Muse colour sensor makes use of a built-in mild supply to detect colour. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Color Muse

Color muse is a $60 color sensor, and just like the Nix Sensor, it reads colour by blocking ambient mild and shining its personal mild supply on a floor to detect colour. The sensor then sends the outcomes to the Color Muse app by way of Bluetooth, the place you possibly can see the closest matches from manufacturers together with Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Benjamin Moore and Valspar. The Color Muse does take a bit of extra effort on your half, since you will want to calibrate the system to profit from its options.

Picking paint colors and matching previous paint is not as exhausting because it used to be with apps and gadgets like these. You can flick thru hundreds of paints from the consolation of your sofa and throw them on your wall with the faucet of a finger. Still, in case you’re questioning how a colour goes to look on your wall, the time-tested method of a paint pattern is a surefire method to discover out. 


Pico shines managed quantities of crimson, inexperienced and blue mild onto the scanning floor to decide the colour worth of your wall. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Palette Pico

Australian firm Palette launched Pico in 2018. The $80 paint-matching device sequentially bursts crimson, inexperienced and blue mild onto the floor you scan. It then shares these outcomes by way of Bluetooth in your smartphone’s Pico app. Pico reviews the RGB values and matching branded paint colors.

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