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How To Test Paint Samples 2024 [6 Easy & Practical Tips]

By: Susie
Updated On: August 18, 2023

When you decide to reimagine your living spaces, step one often involves picking out the perfect shade of paint. It’s not as simple as it appears, though.

How do you ensure your chosen hue will look the same on your wall as on the tiny square swatch? It’s not always easy to select the correct color palette, so I focus today on how to test paint samples.

Selecting and testing paint samples doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed. I’m here to walk you through step by step, alleviating the anxiety that comes with home makeovers.

From understanding different color tones to knowing where and how to apply test patches, with these tips in hand, picking out colors for your home will become an enjoyable task rather than a complex chore.

Why Are Samples Important Before Choosing a Paint Color?

Determining the perfect paint color isn’t just pulling out a choice from a hat. It requires some strategic decision-making and testing. Here’s an in-depth look at why paint samples are essential before making that color commitment.

  • Better Visualization: It can be tough to imagine how a particular shade will look on your entire wall based on a small swatch. A sample allows you to paint a portion of your wall, showing how it appears on large surfaces.
  • Lighting Effect: Different lighting scenarios can drastically alter how a color appears. Using samples first, you’ll see what the shade looks like at different times of day and under various conditions, such as artificial light.
  • Avoid Mistakes: Paint isn’t always refundable, and it can be a costly error if the result isn’t what you anticipated—applying samples before the final decision allows you to avoid potential blunders.
  • Harmony with Décor: Your chosen color needs to work in connection with your furniture, curtains, and other decorative elements. Testing samples will save future regret and ensure your desired hue fits perfectly with existing decor.

Testing samples guide you toward making an informed choice – resulting in walls that exponentially enhance your home’s aesthetics and charm.

6 Effective Tips On How To Test Paint Samples

6 Effective Tips On How To Test Paint Samples

Three primary elements play an essential role in effectively testing paint samples. Let’s discuss each in detail to aid you in making the ideal decision for your home or office.

1. Using Large Paint Swatches for Accurate Perception

Using Large Paint Swatches for Accurate Perception

When it comes to paint swatches, bigger is better. The larger surface area gives you a more accurate perception of how a color will look on your walls.

I recommend using swatches at least 12×12 inches but feel free to go bigger if possible. Paint a sizable portion of your wall with the sample and observe how it appears at different times of the day.

Paying Attention to Undertones and How They Interact

Every paint color has an undertone – either warm, cool, or neutral – which can significantly affect how colors appear individually and together.

When comparing shades of the same color, pay attention to these subtleties. Understanding undertones can help you create a harmonious color scheme in your space.

Keep in mind:

  • Warm undertones are red, orange, or yellow hues.
  • Cool undertones have blue, green, or purple hues.
  • Neutral undertones incorporate grey or brown hues.

Before finalizing a color choice based on the dominant hue alone, consider its accompanying undertone within your overall design scheme.

Involving Family Members or Roommates in the Decision

Don’t forget about those other people who might be living with your paint choice! A color scheme dramatically impacts the mood and atmosphere of a space.

Therefore, gathering opinions from each person who’ll live with it may lead to a final choice everyone enjoys and agrees upon.

These tips for effective paint testing ensure you choose the best color combinations and enhance living spaces’ quality and harmony.

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2. Common Mistakes to Avoid

Common Mistakes to Avoid

As we venture into testing paint samples, it’s also crucial to remember some common mistakes people often make. Being aware of these pitfalls can save you from future regret and re-doing your work.

Choosing a Color Solely Based on the Store Swatch

While selecting a color based on how it looks in the store or online is tempting, remember that those small swatches do not accurately portray how the paint will appear on your walls.

The surrounding lighting and colors present at the time can skew our perception of the paint’s true hue. The remedy? Always test samples at home before making a decision.

Not Considering How Light Affects the Paint Color

Lighting—a critical factor when choosing paint—can dramatically alter how colors appear. Natural daylight, fluorescent light, and incandescent light—all impact the color differently:

  • Under fluorescent lighting, colors tend to shift cooler.
  • Incandescent light brings out warm hues and yellows.
  • Daylight varies throughout the day but is ideal for showing a color’s most authentic form.

Ensure you observe your samples under various lighting conditions before settling on the final choice.

Neglecting to Observe Samples at Different Times of Day

Another common mistake is only observing samples for a short time after application. Paint color can look significantly different from morning to evening due to varying natural light conditions.

Consequently, constantly assess samples at different times throughout the day and under artificial and natural light.

Avoiding these common mistakes will help you better navigate the process of testing paint samples and achieve your desired outcome—a beautiful space colored perfectly for you!

3. Limiting the Number of Colors

Limiting the Number of Colors

Selecting the perfect hue for your space takes more than just an eye for color. It also demands strategic decision-making and focus. Limiting your paint color options is an often overlooked but critical element in this process.

Why Testing Too Many Colors Can Be Overwhelming

While it may initially seem fun to bring many colors home to try out, this approach can quickly become overwhelming instead of inspiring.

With each new shade added to your palette, you muddy the waters and make it increasingly challenging to compare contrasts, undertones, and how each painting works with your room’s natural and artificial light. Furthermore, every added sample on your wall increases the potential for indecision and confusion.

Focus on Your Top 3 Paint Colors

Aim to zero in on three if you’re wrestling between colors. Here’s why:

  • Prevents Overwhelming: Too many choices can lead to confusion and delay decisions. By narrowing down your options, you can evaluate each color and decide which suits you best.
  • Enhances Comparison: With three colors, you can easily compare how they look and interact with room furnishings in various light conditions.
  • Saves Time and Money: Streamlining the testing process by focusing on fewer samples prevents wasted time and unused paint.

To sum up, keep it simple for effective results. Concentrating on a maximum of three favorite color choices assists in making a swift, well-judged decision on which shade will transform your space from drab to fab.

4. Creating Paint Sample Boards

Creating Paint Sample Boards

Creating paint sample boards is an ingenious way to test colors before slathering them on your wall. They are reusable and portable, allowing you to envision how the color will interact with the surrounding environment.

Step-by-step Guide to Creating Paint Sample Boards

  • Choosing the Material: Choosing the right material is the key to creating effective sample boards. Foam core boards work well due to their lightweight, rigidity, and smooth surface that mimics a typical wall finish.
  • Preparation: Purchase foam boards and cut them into your preferred size – ideally large enough to accurately indicate color but small enough to move around quickly. Make sure the surface is clean before painting.
  • Application: Apply the paint sample onto one side of each board using a mini roller for even distribution – usually, two coats will suffice to represent the color accurately.
  • Labeling: Don’t forget to label each board on the back with detailed information about the paint brand, formulation, finish, and name of the color.

DIY Sample Boards versus Samplize

While creating DIY sample boards can be fun and economical, there are more accessible options like Samplize for those who’d rather skip this step entirely – a service that delivers repositionable 12×12 inch samples of any paint color directly to you.

Whether you choose DIY or Samplize, remember that perfecting your interior design dreams should be an enjoyable experience – clear your worries about committing to a wrong shade by testing effectively first.

5. Considering Fixed Elements

Considering Fixed Elements

When choosing a paint color, you can’t overlook the fixed elements in your space! What are fixed details? Predictably, these parts of your room are set in place and have defined colors.

They include cabinetry, countertops, flooring, built-in furniture, large appliances, and more.

Identifying the Permanent Fixtures

The first step in this process is identifying all relevant permanent fixtures in your proposed room for painting.

Some common elements might include wood paneling or stonework on walls, existing tiled surfaces, kitchen cabinetry, or permanently affixed furniture like a built-in bookshelf. Make a list of these elements and their predominant colors to refer to throughout sampling.

Harmonizing Your Paint Samples with Existing Fixed Elements

Once you’ve identified these elements, including their color tones (warm, neutral, or cool), the next step is harmonizing your selected paint with these fixtures.

The overall look should be balanced and cohesive for a pleasing aesthetic experience (Cold metal kitchen appliances? Don’t pair them with warm paint tones).

Creating a Cohesive Look Within Your Space

By considering all these static players in your room during the decision-making process and harmonizing them with your potential paint choices using samples, you’ll avoid any unpleasant post-painting surprises.

Let the fixed features guide you towards compatible hues that carry through the entire room – ensuring unity and cohesiveness in your finished space.

Don’t neglect those persistent, permanent aspects when contemplating a new wall color. A methodically sampled paint selection that takes account of every element creates synergy across every corner of the room.

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6. Daytime Evaluation: A Critical Step in Paint Assessment

Daytime Evaluation: A Critical Step in Paint Assessment

Observing your paint samples in natural daylight is crucial when testing colors. During the daytime, you’ll gain the most authentic glimpse into how a color will ultimately appear on your wall.

Why Daylight?

Natural daylight offers the purest, most balanced light, rendering colors accurately and revealing their most accurate nature.

The intensity and angle of sun rays change throughout the day, which can subtly shift a color’s appearance over time.

For example, in the morning, you might see warmer tones gradually becoming more extraordinary as the evening sets.

Looking at your samples not just once but several times throughout daylight hours is advisable because of these lighting shifts.

This recurring review will give you a more comprehensive understanding of how your chosen hues behave under varying conditions.

Describing Colors and Finishes

To effectively evaluate colors during daylight hours:

  • Intense Colors: Bold and vibrant shades can look even more amplified under bright sunlight, possibly overpowering other elements within your space.
  • Pale Tints: Soft shades often appear lighter than expected under intense sunlight.
  • Sheen Level: Glossy finishes are highly reflective and might create glare under intense daylight.

It’s always helpful to take notes about how each sample looks under different lighting conditions for later review. Track any shifts from morning to afternoon to evening carefully using descriptive words.

Ultimately, these insights will guide you toward choosing colors best suited for your space’s lighting conditions and personal preferences.

FAQs About Test Paint Samples

What is the primary purpose of testing paint samples?

Testing paint samples allows you to visualize how a specific shade will appear on your wall before investing time and money into painting an entire room.

How do I effectively test paint samples at home?

Paint large swatches on your desired wall and observe them under different lighting conditions throughout the day. It’s also essential to consider the paint’s undertones and how it interacts with your current decor.

Why is it important to consider light effects when testing paint samples?

Different lighting scenarios (natural or artificial) can drastically alter a color’s appearance, hence testing under varying light conditions provides an accurate idea of your chosen hue’s behavior throughout the day.

How does the size of my paint swatch affect its perceived color?

Larger swatches typically provide a more accurate perception of a color’s appearance on your entire wall than tiny store-provided cards.

How do company-provided digital visualizers compare to physically testing out paints?

Digital visualizers are helpful for initial inspiration but may not be 100% accurate due to differences in screen displays. Physical testing is always the most reliable.


Testing paint samples is an essential preface to the exciting process of coloring your space anew. It helps familiarize yourself with your favorite colors’ every nuance, how they look at different times, and interact with your room’s permanent elements.

As intricate as it may seem, breaking it down into manageable steps—from choosing swatches to daylight evaluation—eases the task and makes it enjoyable.

As we conclude, remember this—it’s more than picking a random color from a paint store; it’s about creating a space that is uniquely you and feels like home.

Know that the time you invest in testing paint samples will pay off significantly in the end— resulting in a beautifully painted room that evokes joy each time you step into it.

So next time you find yourselves staring at an overwhelming sea of color swatches, armed with these tips and insights, feel confident knowing you’re more than prepared to embark on your color journey.

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