How to Match Paint on a Wall: 9 Best Techniques

When we repaint our walls or fix an imperfection, finding the exact shade or hue of a color is important. Color-matching is an art. Match the correct shade of paint to the wall and you can easily cover over any holes, dings, or paint issues.

Before you go out searching for how to match paint on a wall, just know that you don’t need to be exactly perfect. A 100 percent match may not always be achievable. With that said, you can always get close – very close. You don’t need to know the paint’s name or brand to do it, either.

If you don’t have some of the original paint left to use – and let’s face it, most households won’t – here are the nine best techniques on how to match paint on a wall:

Technique #1: Find the closest paint match

Big paint color brands don’t duplicate their competitors. They use proprietary formulations to create unique colors that are almost uniquely their own. As paint colors come and go in popularity, and as companies do the same, over time, the color on a wall could easily go discontinued.

This is why finding an exact match can sometimes be endlessly frustrating. Fortunately, getting close – very close – is always achievable and usually does the trick. Professional painters usually have access to a vast selection of paint colour options, so contact them for assistance if necessary.

Technique #2: Use a paint-matching app

Technology can be a great way to help you match paint on a wall. There are mobile apps that will interpret a color for you and help you to match it to an existing color. Sherwin-Williams has an app for this purpose as do many of the larger paint companies.

Simply take a photo of your painted surface in natural light, upload it to one of these mobile applications, and automatically the algorithms will suggest a manufacturer’s closest colors to it.

Technique #3: Take a photo of the wall

A spectrophotometer doesn’t just work with physical material. A photo will work, as long as it captures the paint color in natural light. Bring this photo with you to the paint store.

Please note, however, that cameras can slightly change the color depiction depending on its settings. This equates to a likelihood of getting a close-but-not-exact match.

Technique #4: Bring fabrics to the paint store

If you don’t have a way to bring a sample of paint with you to match, try to find some fabric, throw pillow, or thread to act as a match. Bringing this to a paint store, you work with a representative who is experienced at color-matching.

If anyone can find a matching color, chances are it’s them. A lot of stores have what’s called a spectrophotometer which aids them in breaking down color into wavelengths and analyzing it to determine exact paint pigments.

Technique #5: Compare paint chips

Go to your local paint store and get a selection of paint chips or hues you believe are close to matching what’s already on your wall. Bring them home and compare. Observe them in different lighting conditions, including in daylight and by lamplight.

You can do this more easily through hanging your paint chips against the wall. The closest match is your best bet or, if you’re unsatisfied, repeat the exercise with another selection of paint chips.

Technique #6: Create your own paint chip sample

Instead of bringing samples or paint chips to you, take your own from the wall. With a standard sharp utility blade, take a small square of painted drywall that’s not too obvious. For the best comparability, take at least an inch square.

From there, a paint store’s spectrophotometer examines it and offers suggestions on a match. Paint store employees may also be able to immediately match it, depending on how familiar or common the color is.

Technique #7: Buy A Color Analyzer or Color Matcher

Color matches can be purchased online. What they do is work alongside an app, on a sensor interpreting a colored item. They are used for painted walls, fabrics, and more or less anything else.

A color analyzer like this isolates the color and blocks out all ambient lighting which gives homeowners a straightforward, pure reading on what color a wall is. Alternatively, a color analyzing device can also recommend complementary colors or aid in creating a palette.

Technique #8: Clean the wall you will paint-match

Wall colors fade, get covered with fingerprints and dust and smudges, and require decent cleaning before you go trying to match the color. If you don’t clean beforehand, you will be matching a color that is either darker or lighter than it really is. Use a damp, soapy sponge and gently scrub down the wall. Let it dry.

From there, you can get started on paint color matching techniques. This way, you know you’re searching for the real deal – not a color that’s been darkened over time by age.

Technique #9: Trust your instincts and visual judgment

If you really trust your judgment and visual interpretation abilities, eyeballing it works for some homeowners. The unfortunate truth with this strategy is you will almost always come close but never achieving an exact match. To get a more accurate match, you’ve got to put in more effort.

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