When color consulting clients look at paint color samples the most common question I get from them (after they choose their colors) is this: Do I have to buy “this” brand of paint to get the color I want, or can I buy something cheaper? The answer isn’t simple. Sometimes the answer is yes, other times no.
Here’s why. There are at least 3 parts to how a latex house paint color looks: Base tint, pigment and sheen. House paint isn’t just white paint with colors added. Depending upon the color, the paint store selling the brand uses a particular (there can be several choices) tinted base color to which they then add measured amounts of their color pigments. Each company has their own group of pigments. And some companies such as Benjamin Moore, Pantone or Divine Paints use very particular pigments.
What this means to the homeowner trying to match a paint color from one brand to another (usually cheaper) brand of paint is that there will be differences between brands. Sometimes you can’t tell the difference, and you’ll be happy with the result. Other times, differences may include subtle things like sheen changes, and sometimes (especially when using Divine Paints) the difference between the actual brand and the cheaper copy results in radical shifts in how the color actually looks on the wall. Depending upon the skill of the paint store professional who matches the color, the differences between the color specified and how that color looks on the wall can range quite a bit.
So what should you do if you want certain colors but want to save money? The first thing I suggest to clients is that they buy a cheaper product from the line of colors they like. That way, color consistency will be the same across the product line with some exceptions. Benjamin Moore for example, won’t sell their Affinity colors in their lower priced product lines because they can’t deliver the exact match and paint qualities.
If purchasing the color sample paint brand isn’t going to work because of availability issues or some sort of arrangement with a painting contractor, then ask to see large samples (dried) of the colors so that you can be sure the color match is acceptable between brands.
Recently a painting contractor asked me about matching Pantone Colors from the Pantone Matching System (PMS). He said that the professional paint stores he worked with were hesitant to match the colors. When this happens, it’s likely because the paint store personnel does not have a clear sense of the base tint that will yield the best result.
The bottom line is that if you’re not willing to buy the brand of paint consistent with your color sample, you take a risk that you won’t get exactly what you want. Buy the best quality paint you can afford from a professional paint store, and it’s often not a problem. If you’re trying to save money on house paint it’s important to make an informed decision that works for both your sense of aesthetics and your wallet.