How to Select the Right White Paint

If there are 50 shades of grey, there might be 200 shades of white. Choosing the right white paint colour can be tough. In fact, it can be one of the hardest tasks when it comes to designing. What seems like an easy decision can instantly become a challenge once you see just how many contrasting shades of white there actually are to consider.

White makes for a perfect neutral backdrop. Just don’t be fooled by all the names. Ivory. Eggshell. Marshmallow. Snow. All wonderfully white, in theory, but oh-so-different. Here’s what you need to look at before you decide on a shade.

The Finish

Determining the room’s use will help you decide what sheen works best. A matte finish will absorb light while a gloss or semi-gloss will reflect. So if you expect the space to get a lot of traffic, or anticipate the walls getting a little banged up, then pick something with a higher sheen factor — often used on baseboards, cabinetry and bathrooms — for its durability and cleanability. We’re looking at you, Crisp Linen. In addition, a matte finish will absorb light and hide minor imperfections while a gloss or semi-gloss will reflect and can highlight imperfections.

The Undertones

White paint might seem like it’s just white but it takes on touches of other colours to make it unique. For a warmer, creamier feel, look for yellow undertones like Benjamin Moore’s Mascarpone, but for a crisp, more brilliant white, find one with cool notes, like Pure White. Also consider the other colours in the room’s décor and bring those into your choice.

The Lighting

Lighting should be considered on so many levels, from the type of lighting (both natural and artificial), to the direction the sunlight is travelling, to the time of day. In general, if the space gets a lot of natural light, which tends to be warmer, you may want to counterbalance with a cooler shade of white like Chantilly Lace. But if the room relies on artificial lights, like florescents or those cool white LEDs, definitely opt for a warmer shade, like Benjamin Moore’s Mayonnaise or Timid White.

The Room Itself

Think about what completes the room, from the seating area, tables, window furnishings, cushions and cabinets, and use those colours to complement your choice. Before you commit, though, paint a sample on a wall (two coats, close to the trim, maybe even the baseboard). That will either determine whether you made the right decision, or you’ll instantly know you need to go in a different direction. Your best bet is to include Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. It doesn’t get any cleaner or crisper than the multi-purpose white, which is ideal for everything from walls to ceilings to trim.

The Final Decision

If you’re stuck between a handful of whites, the best way to settle the debate is by putting all three paint chips on the same piece of paper. Leave a space between the shades and you’ll instantly be able to see the different up against that stark white sheet. From Snowfall White and White Dove, to Eggshell and Bavarian Cream, it’ll be an adventure.

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