Selecting paint for your walls

Paint colour options

I have always known that choosing the colour of walls in any room of the house is difficult and that once you have applied the paint the task of repainting again because you don’t really like what you’ve already used is painful. So I will give you guidance as to how to choose colours and how to use it to create the illusion of more or less space.

You would generally give a room an effect of less space if it is too big and sparsely furnished and more space if it’s small and densely furnished.

First things first; before you choose a colour for your walls you should consider the following, your personality and lifestyle, the structure of the room( architecture), how much natural light is comes into the room, what you will be using the room for  and what mood/ambiance you are trying to achieve.

The colour spectrum


The size of the room, structure and personality will determine you base colour schemes.

This will now get very technical but it is necessary. Colour has a reflectivity index that is the amount of light that it reflects or absorbs calculated on a percentile scale, 0% for absolute black and 100% for absolute white. The table below shows you the values, the higher the number the more light it will reflect. Some yellows may reflect up 80% – 90% but yellow is not particularly liked colour by most people. Note,the higher the value the more light it will reflect and the opposite applies for the low values.

Refractive   Indices of Various Pigments
Colour Pigment Refractive   Index
Blue Azurite 1.73-1.84
Indigo 1.49-1.52
Smalt 1.49-1.52
Ultramarine (lazurite) 1.50
Vivianite 1.58-1.70
Green Chrysocolla 1.58-1.60
Dioptase 1.64-1.71
Green earth (glauconite) 1.62
Malachite 1.65-1.90
Verdigris (basic copper acetate) 1.53-1.56
Volkonskoite 2.50
Yellow Gamboge (organic resin) 1.58-1.59
Indian yellow 1.67
Jarosite 1.71-1.82
Massicot 2.50-2.61
Ochre, yellow (goethite) 2.00-2.40
Orpiment 2.40-3.02
Cinnabar 2.81-3.15
Hematite 2.78-3.01
Realgar 2.46-2.61
Red lead 2.42
Vermilion 2.82-3.15
Brown Goethite (brown ochre) 2.08-2.40
Siderite 1.57-1.78
Sienna, burnt 1.85
Sienna, raw (goethite) 1.87-2.17
Umber, burnt 2.20-2.30
Umber, raw 1.87-2.17
White Anhydrite 1.57-1.61
Chalk (whiting) 1.51-1.65
Gypsum 1.52-1.53
Titanium dioxide (rutile) 2.27
White lead (basic lead carbonate) 1.94-2.09
Zinc oxide 2.00-2.02
Black Carbon black (opaque)

When light is reflected from a the paint on wall it create “volume” and when it is absorbed it shrinks volume, this is why we all look slimmer in black and bigger in white.

Paying attention to a colour’s LRV can prevent poor wall colour selections by helping you determine and evaluate certain characteristics of a color before you even buy it. The LRV can be found on the back of most color chips and in the index of all major brands or on the back of the paint container.

An easy way to get the paint colour that will reflect or absorb light is to buy a base colour and add shades (add a black colour) to make it darker or tints (add a white colour) to make it lighter. Most paint retailers have this service, but please remember that the “real” colour of paint can only be really visible after it has dried up. It is best then that you do this only a sample of the paint like 500ml tinted and then painted on the wall and wait till it dries up.


Posted on December 2, 2011, in DIY, Paint. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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