What-is-the-Whitest-White-Paint-Color-Blog PostThe 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.

Dog looking for the whitest white paint color

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.

Reading Paint Color Formulas is Like Trying to Smell-the-Color-9

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

What Bruce said applies to artist’s paints and architectural bases and colorants. 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.


This is my dog. He’s smart. Nic, my youngest, took this picture.

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.

What is the Whitest White Paint Color Blog Post

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 color 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.

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.

Behr-Ultra-Pure-White the whitest white

Source: Behr


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, color 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.

Your Turn

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?

More About Color:

    1. Bringing Perspective to Undertones
    2. Color Order Systems are Like…
    3. How To Master Overtones


  • Juli

    Great article. I’m happy to learn that the color I have described to customers for several years now as “the whitest white” paint was indeed confirmed. I don’t have occasion to use it too often, but it is a great visual aid to show people if you need to explain how some really light Behr colors can have tint added to them, and still have the same or lower LRV as someone else’s plain white base.

    I also find it useful if someone is doing white walls, but wants at least a slight contrast on their trim. Then it’s just Behr Ultra Pure White, straight out of the bucket.

    What’s amazing though, in their ultra plus premium and marquee line, the colors can hold some serious chroma, and still cover pretty much in one coat. Not sure how they manage that, but I am in awe of the chemists who figure all that out!

  • Julie

    Love this, no bias and very informative!

  • FrannieM

    omg. I have asked at a paint store for their whitest white, and they said “this is our most popular white” and I said okay, great! Painted on the walls? CREAM. Why is getting a white white so difficult? I know there’s tones and it is all a light play, but still. If I ask for white I expect a white. Anyway – thank-you! I’m going Behr Hunting…

  • Beth

    Can you tell me why the whitest white at Benjamin Moore is?

  • Beth

    Can you tell me what the whitest white at Benjamin Moore is?

    • Hi Beth,

      The top three whitest whites from Benjamin Moore are OC-68 Distant Gray, OC-66 Snow White, and OC-65 Chantilly Lace.

      (CIELAB 100,0,0 – D65 Illuminant 2° Observer.)

  • Lorece

    What would you say is the whitest white at Sherwin Williams? Thanks

    • 7757 High Reflective White. But it doesn’t come in all SW product so before you choose HRW, you need to verify if it’s available in the product you want to use.

      7006 Extra White is the second most white and probably the easiest to get across SW products.

      CIELAB 100, 0, 0 | D65 2°

  • Adrien Gary Lucca

    Your demonstration is non-existent and your argument is false: 1- easy rgb does not contain all white paints data 2- you confuse highest reflectance with whitest, which is quite related but not the same thing. Whiteness has its own formula in colorimetry for a reason.
    By the way, the whitest white is spectralon, and whitest non fluorescent white paint is based on Baryum Sulfate (ex.: http://sphereoptics.de/en/product/white-reflectance-coating-barium-sulphate/) . I also think that the mention of substance uncertainty is largely irrelevant concerning white paint.

    • 1. I never said that easyrgb contained “all white paints data”.
      2. I’m talking about American architectural coatings and searching the easyrgb.com library using CIELAB values is quite sufficient for determining the whitest white paint colors found in the major, most commonly used American paint brands. Searching and organizing colors by CIELAB values encompasses more than just reflectance. You should look it up sometime.

      • Adrien Gary Lucca
      • Adrien Gary Lucca

        Now about whiteness, here’s one of many formulae :
        W=Y+800*(xn-x) +1700*(yn-y)
        Where xn and yn are the chromaticity coordinates of the illuminant and x, y the ones of the sample you want to evaluate the whiteness of.
        Whiteness does not only refer to luminance, actually you can sometimes have a sample which is whiter but darker than another sample.

        • In order to apply a formula or equation to evaluate whiteness you first have to define a reference for comparison. As well as define a standard appropriate for the application.

          This application is very specific. We are searching a comprehensive yet limited collection of architectural paint colors. Typically, architectural paint colors of white that are bright with the least amount of discernible hue are perceived as the most neutral and more white in comparison to other paint colors in a paint brand’s collection.

          The task is to compare all the colors of white paint available in the easyrgb.com library to see which one looks most white. The most efficient way to do this is numerical comparison. And L*=100, a*=0, b*=0. D65/2° is a practical standard for this application.

      • Adrien Gary Lucca

        I won’t comment further unless you want me to. I understand cielab perfectly, no need to worry about this. Have a nice day.