The Whitest White Paint Color is . . .
What is the whitest white paint color? It’s one of the questions I’m asked most often.
Here’s the problem
I can tell you what white is the whitest out of all the major paint brands, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, Behr, etc. but it would take less than a minute.
With the exception of those who have taken my color training course, I do what nobody else in the color expert, architectural coatings and color consultant-designer realm knows how to do. I apply a color science called colorimetry to specifying color for the built environment.
If I were to show and tell you how I do it, we’d be done by now which means this blog post would be really short. The process is THAT simple, fast, and easy. No joke.
But Google and its SEO algorithms do not like short posts. Which means I have to milk this burning question, “What is the whitest white paint color?” for all it’s worth.
So, I’m going to explain in detail the #1 thing NOT to do when trying to find the whitest white paint color and why.
Not my dog.
Am I right?
Need a reason to stick with me until the end besides how to find the whitest white paint color? Ok, let me ask you a question. Do you know what LRV is?
If you can answer yes, it’s very likely because I’m the one who taught you what LRV is as well as how to practically apply your knowledge of LRV to specifying architectural color. After searching all of the interwebs, and maybe even skimming a couple color books or training manuals, you finally found my article and watched the video. Both explained LRV simply and clearly. Am I right?
You trusted me to teach you about light reflectance value and show you practical applications. Further, you have used what you learned. You have tapped into that well of knowledge about LRV for one reason or another or maybe you were able to teach someone else about LRV.
Now, I’m asking you to trust me again. We’ll tackle how to find the whitest white paint color together. Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do so maybe it’s serendipitous that I need to write a longer post for Google and SEO.
The #1 Thing Not to do When Looking for the Whitest White Paint Color
Do not look at the list of colorants to try to determine anything about a paint color’s characteristics. This is especially true when trying to find the whitest white. Using paint color formulas to determine how a color will behave is like trying to smell the color 9.
The chemistry involved, the consideration of the color of the paint base, the make-up of each colorant and how they all mix and interact is not only boring as hell, it’s also an exercise in futility. It’s futile because of what Bruce MacEvoy over at handprint.com calls substance uncertainty.
“Unfortunately, the color mixture “predictions” made by subtractive color theory are often inaccurate, because the light absorbing properties of a colorant are affected by its physical state — its particle size, transparency, density, dispersion or medium, the color of the substrate, the other colorants it is mixed with, the thickness of the color layer, and so on. I call these problems substance uncertainty: because of them, the color of ingredient substances does not determine the color of their mixtures. Often, colorants must be physically mixed in order to find out what their mixture color will be.”
Chemistry Doesn’t Discriminate
Bruce is talking in terms of artist’s paints for the purpose of his website but the basic chemistry of color mixtures apply to architectural coatings too. Not like architectural color is different. Chemistry does not discriminate whether the mixture is for a can of architectural paint or an artist’s palette.
I learned a long time ago that characteristics of architectural colorants are not uniform and neither are cans of base paint. Whiteness of paint bases varies brand to brand. Particle sizes within colorants also vary and some are more transparent than others. Some colorants are simply stronger than others and will dominate in the mix.
There’s no way to predict which colorant – or what part of which colorant – will end up dominant or what will be completely overpowered and neutralized until you mix the color, let it dry, and look at it (or measure it).
Didn’t take me long to realize that the only thing that matters in architectural color is what the color *is* when it’s dry.
Time is Money
Repeat the paint color mixing process with the SAME substances eleventy-million times, and -sure- you might get to a point where you can predict what’s going to happen with the SAME set of bases and colorants you’ve been working with.
Anything is possible but it’s going to be long, drawn out, messy, and extremely fussy and for me, it was impossibly boring. Which is yet another reason why I love colorimetry, it’s clean and simple. I don’t even break out paint chips until the end of my color workflow process. There is zero fuss, zero mess and it’s fast which means I have more time to spend on my business. My clients, marketing, networking, social media, admin work.
To be honest, I’m just not the crafty type. Going to Home Goods, Michael’s or Hobby Lobby makes my teeth itch, the massive visual chaos of cheap shit is not my thing.
Delegating color mixing tasks to professionals who do it every day works better for me and my bottom line. In order to stay profitable as an architectural color consultant, I think it’s smarter to leverage the tens of thousands of paint colors already mixed, measured for spectral data, tested for lightfastness, and weather.
No Jedi Mind Tricks
With all that said (you’re welcome Google algorithms), I will never tell you that you don’t need to learn something or tell you it’s not necessary to know when it comes to color mixing theories, architectural color specification theories, color relationship theories, science or anything else about color.
Because that’s not what a teacher you can trust does.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Mom to two boys, I dunno, but influencing you to remain ignorant of something just because it’s not “my thing” is disrespectful to your intelligence and fundamentally wrong in my book. The Mom in me says your horizons are limitless! No boundaries! Go for it, baby!
Or maybe it’s because I am confident in my color expertise and so secure with what I have to share that I don’t see different approaches to color as a threat to what I teach. I don’t agree with most of them anyway and can articulate exactly why; they’re just so disconnected from my color point of view I don’t care.
I say if mixing your own colors and learning about paint color formulas makes you happy, then you should do it. My advice is read as many books and take as many courses about color from as many different trainers as you as you can.
Time to Find the Whitest White
Of all the color training courses available to you, we know none of them would approach finding the whitest white paint color – or color in general – the way I’m about to show you.
Color science, colorimetry, scares a lot of people because it looks super intimidating. It’s not.
Like LRV is easy to understand and use, other points of colorimetric data are easy to understand and use too because the data is just a color’s DNA or fingerprint – if you’ve read previous blog posts, you know this already.
The spectral data values we need to search for the whitest white paint color are called CIE L*a*b.
CIE L*a*b is a color space that includes all the colors we can see plus colors that can’t be seen or made. It includes a lot of colors.
Next, we need a massive color library of paint brands to search for the whitest white paint color. My favorite is EasyRGB. No affiliation, they are simply a free online color resource that I trust and teach you how to use in Camp Chroma Online Training Course 1.
All I had to do on EasyRGB was enter the following CIE L*a*b values to look for a color with a maximum L (lightness) value of 100 and no color. You can see the value entries in the screen capture below.
The result of my search for the whitest white paint color in easy-to-acquire paint brands is Behr’s Ultra Pure White #PP100.
That’s all there is to it. Told ya it was quick. Only thing left to do is summarize what we’ve discussed.
- Behr’s Ultra Pure White is the whitest white paint color out of all the brands included in the EasyRGB library. (D65 Illuminant, 2° observer)
- Color science, colorimetry, spectral data whatever you want to call it is no more difficult to understand and apply than LRV, light reflectance value.
- Google’s SEO algorithms can be a pain but are perhaps serendipitous after all. Suppose that depends on what you think of this post. (FYI, I have never once typed the word, “algorithms” without misspelling it.)
- Color freak. Love or loathe my color freakiness, fact of the matter is I am the only color expert trainer whose expertise is informed by colorimetry and internationally approved color systems based on the psychophysical dimensions of color, hue/value/chroma.
Why do you want to know what the whitest white paint color is? I’m curious, so do share.
Have you ever asked your paint store what the whitest white paint color is? What’d they tell ya?
What about reading paint color formulas to assess a color when it’s wet, not dry – brilliant strategy or am I totally out of line saying that it’s a tragic waste of time?
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