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The Right Way to Test Paint Samples in Your Home

The best way to choose a paint color for your home is to sample it on the walls before. Today we will discuss the right way to test paint samples so you can choose the right color every time.

I get questions about paint colors all the time. It’s very hard to choose the right color and even more so without seeing the home.

The view of the top of a paint can and a paintbrush laying next to it.

I always suggest a few different ones based on the information given then recommend testing that color on the walls. But there are a few keys to testing paint samples that you need to know.

Personally, I love Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore the most. I feel like they have the best quality paint which will save you time and money in the long run.

That being said, those paint manufacturers are also a bit more expensive so if you need to go with the Behr line from Home Depot or Olympic from Lowes. They are both good quality paint lines and will do a good job in your home. They also can color match any color from Sherwin Willaims or Benjamin Moore!

*This post contains affiliate links. For more details see my full disclosure.

The Right Way to Test Paint Samples

Testing paint on the walls is the best way to know if a color is right for your home. Here are the best ways to accomplish this and make sure you paint a room the best color the first time.

Step 1 – Choose the fixed Elements in the Room

The first thing you should do is choose the things that will not be easy to change. For example, if you are painting a kitchen choose your cabinet color/stain, your countertops, and the floor colors first. These are things you cannot change easily.

Once you have those chosen it’s time to choose a paint color. Take cues from those fixed elements when deciding on a paint color. I have a whole post dedicated to choosing the right paint color so if you need help on that make sure you take a look at it.

Step 2 – Narrow Down your Choices

Now I know that you have fallen in love with dozens of colors but you cannot put that many colors on your walls, you will simply go mad. So try to narrow down your choices to 3-5 colors.

I know that’s super hard but you will thank me later. If you have more than that your home will start to look like a patchwork quilt and you will only confuse yourself more.

Step 3 – Get Paint Samples

All paint stores will sell you a paint sample to test on your walls. If you are going with Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore those samples will cost you anywhere from $5-10.

Home Depot and Lowes are a bit cheaper, I think I got one from Lowes for only $2.

My first choice however would be to go with a company called Samplize. They specialize in paint samples and will send you a 12 by 12 inch peel and stick sample of the color of your choice.

The paint sample from Samplize is great because once you are done with it you just throw it away. When you get samples in a paint can you only use a touch of the paint and then you are left with this small can of paint and nothing to use it on.

Paint samples from the paint stores are made with very low-quality paint so you don’t want to use it on anything. The only purpose of that small can of paint is to test a color on your wall and that’s it. I know super big bummer.

Step 3 – How to Paint a Sample on the Wall

If you choose to go with the sample from the paint store then there are a few things you need to do when painting that sample on the wall.

The first thing is to use a good quality brush. I always buy good quality brushes because it can mean the difference between okay and great when it comes to the finished product.

Using your good quality brush paint a square on the wall about 12 inches by 12 inches. (This is why Samplize is so great because it comes that size!)

Make sure you feather out the edges. That means making sure the edges are brushed out so there aren’t any hard lines. Think about how you blend in your makeup, you don’t want harsh lines!

Step 4 – Multiple Coats

You need to paint at least 2 coats on the wall. When you paint the walls for good you will most likely need to do 2 coats so when you are deciding on that color you need to do 2 coats as well.

This gives you the best view of how each color will look once you paint the walls with your color of choice.

Step 5 – Paint the colors on Multiple Walls

The lighting in the room will make the color look different, even on different walls. This includes the light coming in the windows as well as the light fixtures you have in the room.

So it’s my recommendation to paint the samples on multiple walls so you can get a good look at how that color will look in all the lights during different times of the day.

Urbane bronze used on walls in a bedroom with a bed that has light neutral bedding, a hanging light with fringe and a light wood toned end table.
Source: Sherwin Williams

Step 6 – Use a Primer

For dark colors or ones that are very light paint a primer on the wall before painting your sample. This will help you see what the color will look like.

I do not recommend painting a color on posterboard and moving it around the room unless you plan to prime all the walls of that room before you paint. This will not give you the correct idea of what the color will look like.

The reason I do not recommend this is because the color you have on the walls will have an impact on the final color you paint. You don’t get this effect when you test a color on a poster board.

As I said, if you are going to prime the room then the poster board method is fine but the best thing to do is go ahead and prime that wall, then test your paint colors.

Step 7 – Never Decide Right Away

Paint dries darker than when it’s wet so always make sure you let the paint dry before making a decision.

You should also wait a few days before making a decision on which paint color you want because they can look different in different lights. For example, from day to night a color can look very different. Undertones can rear up in dark spaces or light.

The light bulbs you have in lamps and light fixtures can also alter the look of a paint color. So make sure you test that out in day time as well as at night.

Final Thoughts on the Right Way to Test Paint Samples

Choosing a paint color can be nerve-racking because you want to get it right the first time. But if you don’t get it right never fear, paint is one of the cheapest DIY projects you can do in a home.

Testing the color on the walls the right way can help you choose the right color so it’s very important. If you follow the steps I have outlined for you here today I guarantee you will set yourself up for choosing the right color every time!

Other Paint Color Posts:

A paint roller against the wall with text overlay.

The Right Way to Test Paint Samples

As a licensed Real Estate Agent and an avid home decorator, I strive to give my clients the very best I can when it comes to staging, selling, and decorating their homes. I have lots of experience with paint color choices and love to DIY my home so I can have everything just the way I want it. I share my ideas and projects with the world in the hopes that I can help others have their homes just the way they want as well.

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