How Lighting Affects Paint Color (and Why You Should Care)

Ever wondered why the color indication on the paint can sometimes isn’t an accurate approximation of how it looks on your walls?

It’s a common issue encountered by many tackling DIY interior painting projects. It’s also something that can be attributed to a variety of things. Perhaps the most common (and obvious) of which being the quality of the paint, or accuracy (or otherwise) with which the manufacturer has decided to represent the real thing.

If you buy low quality paint, it’s going to take a toll on the quality of your interior painting job.

Painting Over High-Gloss Paint

But even when you pick up the highest quality paint money can buy, it’s still possible that the final result won’t be quite like you expected it to be. In which case, it could be to do with the lighting in the room.

Natural Light and Directional Placement

This is why one of the first things to do when painting interior walls is to consider the natural light that enters the room and how strong it is. A few important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Windows pointing to the south tend to bring the most intense natural light into a room, which can be quite harsh. This kind of natural light has a tendency to make darker colors appear brighter and pale colors appear faded.
  • Indirect natural light is more likely with north facing windows, creating a more consistent and soft tone throughout hours of daylight. In which case, daker colors can seem even darker than they actually are.
  • With east and west-facing rooms, it’s a case of the room being blasted with bright natural light in the morning and subsequently becoming darker as the day progresses, or vice versa. In which case, you’ll need to think about how both lighter and daker conditions will impact the paint you choose for your walls.

Of course, the fact that natural light levels change throughout the day isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Bright and cheerful interiors in the morning which gradually become more subdued (and even romantic) towards the evening can be quite appealing.

Nevertheless, it isn’t just natural light that needs to be factored in. You also need to think about how the artificial lighting in the room affects the appearance of your chosen paint colors, which can be just as dramatic as natural light.

How Artificial Lighting Affects Paint Colors

Experimenting with different kinds of light bulbs (and lighting sources in general) often holds the key to achieving the aesthetic you want. The color tone of any given bulb can be identified and assessed by way of its Kelvin measurement – anything from 2700K to 5000K.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s worth remembering that bulbs with a lower temperature emit warmer light and those with a higher temperature emit cooler tones. Right at the top of the scale, a bulb with a 5000K rating will be pretty close to the power and effect of natural daylight, though could be too powerful for some rooms.

This is why it is a good idea to paint sample boards and mount them in place on your walls for a day or two, before deciding which colors to go for. This way, you’ve every opportunity to see how the paint looks at different times of day and night, assessing the extent to which both natural and artificial light affect its appearance.

Take your time and see which colors you are most happy with, before starting the process of painting the walls themselves.

Experiment with Different Lighting Sources

Referring back to the previous point, one of the best ways of enhancing the aesthetic of any interior space is to experiment with as many different lighting sources as you like. Rather than illuminating the entire space with one exceptionally powerful central light fitting, try distributing a few lamps and feature lights around the place.

It’s worth remembering that both the temperature and the direction of the light can and will make a big difference to how your room looks.

If in any doubt, you can always organize an obligation-free color consultation with the pros. At Homm CPS, we take huge pride in helping our customers make educated and informed decisions about their interiors, in order to gain maximum enjoyment from their homes.

For more information or to discuss your requirements in more detail, contact a member of the team at Homm CPS today.