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How to use tech to choose your paint colors



You are ready to freshen up your house . Maybe you stare at greige office walls for far too long, or you move children to their own rooms or you just want a new color for your living room.

Choosing the right paint can transform your space. Looking at rows of colors in your local hardware store, you can easily feel overwhelmed by choices. It's also easy to love a color in the store, but hate the way it shows when it hangs on your wall. If you try to match an old color it can get even more complicated.

A handful of smart sensors and mobile apps help here. With a little technical help, you can confidently handle a brush and add the right shade to your home.

What Affects Paint Color

Light is one of the biggest factors influencing how color translates on your wall. In a home furnishing store, you're likely looking at a paint chip under a display lit by strong fluorescent light that's very different from the light in your home. Take home that same paint chip and it can look very different.

That's because the artificial and natural light from your home plays a role in how color looks. In fact, intersecting walls can look like different shades at the same time of the day, as each wall receives a different amount of light through the room's windows.

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Light is one of the biggest factors in how a paint color looks on your wall.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

The finish or gloss of your paint also makes a difference in the way color is perceived. A flat paint finish (like what you find on most paint shavings) won't reflect as much light as a high-gloss gloss, so a flat finish usually looks a bit darker. Often higher gloss finishes are good for bathrooms, kitchens and rooms that see more moisture. Flatter finishes work well in spaces such as bedrooms and living rooms.

How Technology Reads Color

Color translates to the computer through a range of values. Knowing those values ​​for the shade you need will allow you to navigate sensors and apps and fine-tune the color to different brands. The most common values ​​for color are HEX, CMYK and RGB.

Typical electronic screens and displays that emit light use RGB color values ​​(red, green, blue), while CMYK values ​​(cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) set the standard for printed materials such as newspapers and magazines that absorb light . The hex color valuation method is used to communicate RGB values ​​in computer programming, such as HTML. Once you know the desired color value, you can find it in almost any medium.

Virtual Paint and Color Matching Apps

Many major paint manufacturers have websites and apps designed to help you choose a paint color. Sherwin-Williams, Valspar and Behr all have websites with virtual design studios where you can paint on an uploaded photo of your space. It is by no means a perfect system, and the color and light settings on your computer monitor or mobile device will affect how you see the color. Still, virtual painting is a good way to narrow down your choices and help you choose between different looks.

All these color picks are manageable if you paint a brand new or well primed wall. It gets trickier when paint matching is your goal. Like clothes, car colors, and photos hanging in the sunlight, paint colors fade over time. Even if you know the original paint color of a wall, a new coat of paint may look due to color fading or loss of gloss.

"Paint on walls fades over time and shine changes," notes residential designer Angela Kirkpatrick. & # 39; Even if you get a piece of wall next to a wall outlet, it may not match the color and shine in the center of the wall where the TV is mounted. A difference in wall gloss can make a color look very different. & # 39;

If you want to match new paint with an old color, you probably need more than just a paint chip. Tech can really help here.

Paint manufacturers and third party app designers provide color matching apps that analyze color in photos taken with your phone's camera or images uploaded from your phone's library. If you have a good picture of your wall, you may be able to make the closest possible match from different paint manufacturers.

Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Match

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Sherwin's ColorSnap- Williams provides color matching from your phone's camera or photo library.


Screenshot from Molly Price / CNET

Sherwin-Williams offers an app called ColorSnap Match, which allows you to upload an existing photo or take a new photo to find paint colors to match. There is also a virtual painting tool and multiple ways to explore all of Sherwin-Williams' paint collections. The app includes RGB color values ​​for Sherwin-Williams paints, coordinating color lists for each paint, as well as the color strip where you would find them in a hardware store. The app is free and works on iOS and Android devices .

Behr's ColorSmart

Behr's ColorSmart app works much the same as the Sherwin-Williams app, with options to take new photos or upload existing ones. You can also view selected colors in generic scenes such as kitchens or bathrooms. The free app works with both iOS and Android devices.

Benjamin Moore's Color Capture

Benjamin Moore's Color Capture does not provide virtual room visualization, but you can still match colors with photos from your camera or library. After playing with all these apps on my fake test lemon, I was most disappointed with this. Even with every setting on my phone on silent, the in-app camera had a loud shutter and there is no precise point to indicate where in the picture the color matches. But if you need to use Behr paints and don't know what colors you want, this free iOS or Android app can be helpful.

Project Color by The Home Depot

The Home Depot offers a color app that draws from multiple brands sold in Home Depot stores. You can match colors through your phone's camera or photo library and view results on the walls of a room in real time through your phone's camera lens.

Color Grab

Color Grab is a third-party app that identifies color in real time using your camera's viewfinder. After you save the color, you can view the profile including the hex code, CMYK and RGB values. Color Grab can also match colors from photos in your phone's library. The app is free and works with Android devices.

Unlike brand manufacturers' paint apps, third-party apps feel color without trying to sell you a specific paint. The downside is that there are no brand paint colors to choose from as a result. You can easily identify the color value of the object or wall you are scanning. Once you have a color value, you can use it to find a matching paint color, probably using the RGB value as it is the most commonly used value in the paint industry. There are even online converters that match color values ​​with multiple paint brands.

Color Detection Devices

When it comes to measuring color, spectrometers have long been the industry standard. With prices in the thousands of complicated processes and bulky designs, these high-tech devices are often out of reach for the average do-it-yourselfer, but some of the basic ideas behind spectrometers show up in color-sensing devices that you can fit in your pocket for $ 100.

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Chris Monroe / CNET

Nix Color Sensor Mini

At $ 100, this color sensor isn't exactly cheap, but it can make life a lot easier for anyone who combines multiple paint colors. The pre-calibrated Nix Color Sensor Mini blocks ambient light and uses a calibrated light source to read the color of a surface. The sensor then sends that readout to your phone via Bluetooth and the Nix Paints or Nix Digital app, where you can match colors with a dozen different paint brands in the US and Canada.

  paint-samplers-3 "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/MdXjqCG3BRXnkPA4H9GTSV_9i_I=/2018/05/30/9431ff87-ab91-4d94-8eb9-d04be82bdcf9/paint-samplers-3 .jpgerking19659043abelspaint-samplers-3ication19659023] The Color Muse color sensor uses a built-in light source to detect color. </p>
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Chris Monroe / CNET

Color Muse

Color muse is a $ 60 color sensor, and like the Nix sensor, it reads color by blocking ambient light and shining its own light source on a surface to detect color. The sensor then sends the results via Bluetooth to the Color Muse app, where you can see the closest matches from brands like Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Benjamin Moore, and Valspar. The Color Muse takes a bit more effort on your part because you need to calibrate the device to take full advantage of its features.

Choosing paint colors and matching old paint is not as difficult as it used to be with apps and devices like this. You can browse thousands of paints from the comfort of your home and throw them on your wall with the tap of a finger. But if you're wondering what a color will look like on your wall, the tried and tested approach to a paint sample is a surefire way to find out.

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Pico shines controlled amounts of red, green and blue light on the scanning surface to determine the color value of your wall.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Palette Pico

Australian company Palette released Pico in 2018. The $ 80 paint-matching device successively emits red, green, and blue light on the surface you scan. It then shares those results via Bluetooth in your smartphone's Pico app. Pico reports the RGB values ​​and matching brand paint colors.

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