True Blue? Effects of Lighting on Paint Colour

home interior paintingHow many times have you chosen what you thought was exactly the dead-on colour at the paint store, only to coat a couple of walls on the home front, step back to assess and feel truly disappointed? Maybe even confused, wondering how could the paint sample be so different from what I’m seeing now?

Most people think the easiest part of a home interior painting project is selecting the right colour. But it’s more complicated than that, largely due to one key factor that gets easily overlooked: the effects of lighting on paint colour.

Day or Night, Natural or Not?

The lighting in a room has a huge effect on colour. Never pick paint when you’re short of time and without getting a sense of how it will appear in your actual home environment. Here are four situations to note when choosing paint colours.

Lighting during the Day – Definitely bring paint samples into the room you will have painted, and view them in both the centre of the room and next to windows whenever possible. This lets you see the characteristics of the colour you’re considering in the most setting.

Lighting in the Evening – The effects of lighting on paint colour definitely extends to after dark. We all know that lighting at night isn’t the same as what you see in daylight conditions, so it may seem silly to point out the obvious. But you may be surprised by just how different wall colours can appear at opposite ends of the day. Make sure you get a solid idea of how your potential paint colours look at night. Deeper shades may create a more cave-like atmosphere than you imagined; if so, you might want to go up a few notches to a lighter version.

home interior paintingArtificial Lighting – All natural lighting aside, you also need to study the effects of your home’s artificial lighting, such as lamps and overhead fixtures, on the overall space. Halogen and incandescent lights are good for enhancing yellows and reds and for muting greens and blues. On the other hand, fluorescent lights tend to do the opposite with these same colours.

Location of Lighting – Remember that lighting from above will look different from that of floor and table lamps, definitely something to consider when choosing a colour for the walls. Also take into account the qualities and effects of both shadow and reflection in the room.

Ask a Home Interior Painting Specialist for Colour Advice

If your home interior painting plans are coming together and you want a trained eye to help you finalize what looks best in certain lighting conditions at any time of day or night, keep in mind that your painting contractor will have buckets of knowledge about this to spread around!


Vancouver painter and contractor Peter Byrne“PETER BYRNE is the owner and hands-on manager of Kassel Painting Limited. In the last two decades he has run over 1500 painting projects totaling millions of dollars. There is little that can go right (or wrong) on a job-site he has not seen, solved, and lived to talk about.”

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