Physical paint samples are an essential part of the color selection process. Choosing paint colors from a color fan deck or color chart can be misleading. It is best to see a sample of the actual paint before making the final color decisions and proceeding with the painting. Just imagine how disappointed you would be if you disliked your color selections after all of the hours of hard work you had put into the job.
Paint Color Cards
Once you have now narrowed your choices to a few colors, it is time to create physical paint samples.
Try to purchase the sample paints in the smallest volume possible, to reduce cost and minimize waste. Many paint suppliers package house paints in small jars or pouches just for this color selection process. Be aware that these small quantities may not be available in the particular sheen that you have chosen but they still may give you a good representation of color. The next smallest size is a quart. It should not be necessary to purchase any volume larger than a quart for the purpose of color samples.
Most paint stores have 8 x 11 inch cardboard paint color cards. They usually provide these free of charge. Obtain enough of these cards so you can have at least one brush-out per color. Purchase a few foam pads for paint application. They are reasonably priced items.
Label the back side of each brush-out card with a corresponding color name, color number, and paint sheen. Apply an even coat of paint to the paint color card with the foam pad. A second coat is probably necessary to get a true color representation. Make sure to allow the first coat to dry properly before applying the second coat. Repeat this process for each additional color sample.
Interior Paint Color Samples
Depending on the scope of your painting project, you may have several color brush-outs for walls, ceiling, and trim. Examine them in different scenes so that you may further narrow down your color selection.
Lighting plays an important role with colors. Because lighting often varies within a room, paint colors will appear lighter in well lit areas and darker in the not so well lit areas. Different types of artificial light, such as florescent lights can also impact the appearance of paint colors. Examine the paint color cards at a few locations within the room to get a better idea about the effects that lighting has on the paint colors.
Compare each paint sample brush-out card alongside the color of an adjacent painted area. For example, place the wall paint color card next to the corresponding ceiling and trim colors.
Have a look at your brush-outs with some of the permanent architectural features in the room, such as floors, wood ceilings, stained trim and cabinets, stone and brick work, etc.
Finally view your paint sample cards next to the existing furnishings, carpets, and other decorative elements.
Observing the paint sample colors in all the different settings should help with the color elimination process.
Paint Sample Mock-Up
Once the color selection is narrowed to just one or two colors, larger color samples can be helpful. Buy a quart of each color if you have not already done so. Choose a wall with good lighting. Paint a large sample of each wall color on the wall. A 4 x 4 feet sample gives a realistic representation of the color. It is easiest to apply the sample paint with a mini roller. It will not leave unsightly brush marks and the cleanup is simple. Do the same for the ceiling if applicable. The larger samples should help you commit to your final color decisions.
Exterior Paint Color Samples
The process for exterior color samples is very much the same as interior samples. Once you narrow your colors to a couple of schemes, paint a small area at the front of the house.
Paint the body, trim, and accent if applicable next to each other. Stand back or even walk across the street to have a look. Do this when the sun shines on the wall and also when it is in the shade. That should give you a good representation of the color.
Producing paint samples will require some additional time and expense. If you are having some difficulties selecting colors, it is a worthwhile exercise. If you are reasonably confident with your color choices, you may want to skip some of the steps described above. Nonetheless it is still a good idea to make a large sample on the wall or ceiling.