Things To Know Before You Paint Your Walls White
White walls are one of the most versatile fixtures in a room. White is a color that gets along with all kinds of colors and styles. Are you looking for a minimal decor for your home? White walls and furniture are one of the chicest ways to go.
Are you looking to take it several notches higher and experiment with a bohemian look? White can still be the color that grounds the room amidst all the funky prints and patterns.
No rule says that white walls need to be bare and colorless. Of course, you can accessorize the walls but even if you leave the wall plain, there are several types of white paint available that can make a room look decorated.
So, if you love white walls or are wondering if too much white will make your home look bland, you will be relieved to know white is one of the most versatile colors—when used right. The following are some facts about white paint that may give you a better idea about how to use white.
Pure White Paint Doesn’t Exist
You may have often heard of the shade ‘pure white’ or ‘clean white’. However, a clean white color is not as straightforward as it sounds. All colors are based on a principle of reflectance, also known as light reflectance value. On a scale of 1-100, the higher value a color has, the lighter it will be. Whereas, the lower the value on this scale the darker the color will be.
Technically speaking, no color in the world as we perceive it is an absolute black (0%) or an absolute white (100%). Therefore, even what manufacturers may sell as a ‘pure white’ may have a value of 85% on the scale at the most.
White Base Paint
If you want a shade of powder blue or a light mauve but cannot find it, white paint can actually be your savior. Several manufacturers keep base paints of various kinds which are then tinted to give customers the shade they are looking for.
There are light and medium base paints, transparent base paints, as well as white base paints. While you can use the white base paint on its own without any tint, any pastel shade that you recognize on walls or anywhere else likely began as some form of white which was then tinted for the right shade.
Now, Here Are Some Facts about White Paint
The following are some facts about white paint that you may find interesting and useful.
Same Paint, But Different
Even if you have picked a single white paint for your whole house, you can still play around with how the final wall looks because the same paint can vary in optics from location to location. Depending on what kind of light the room has, whether the wall has any texture, what the color of the furniture is in the room, and so on, the effect of the same white paint can be different in different rooms.
The intensity of light in the room will certainly impact how the white paint looks and you can work this to your advantage as well.
No Pigment, Great Price
Another amazing thing about white paint is that it is likely to be the cheapest in any range. The pricing of paints is decided based on how much pigment is involved in the mix. The higher the amount of pigment in the paint, the more expensive it is likely to be.
Since white paint does not have any added pigments, it automatically becomes the cheapest in a range of paints.
This also means that white paint is one of the cheapest ways to redecorate a room. If the walls need another coat but you are on a tight budget, white paint is a good option to look into.
What’s more, it is also a more forgiving color even if you do mess up so you can also save money on labor and just do it yourself!
White Paint and Optical Illusions
If you are dealing with space constraints, white paint is your best friend! There are several tricks that you can employ in interior design that makes a space look larger than it is.
Some people add mirrors to the room, while some people install windows. White paint is one of the best ways to make any space look brighter and larger.
If you have a low ceiling in your room, consider painting the ceiling and the walls the same shade of white. The room will automatically open up and look much larger than it is.
Visually, the height of the ceiling will increase with white paint. However, for the best effect you would be wise to ensure that the ceiling and the trimmings that connect to the ceiling are of the same white color. Any deviation in the shade of white breaks up the visual effect that you are trying to achieve.
White Paint and Lighting
White is also a very malleable and absorbent color. While this bodes well for when you want to introduce other elements of color into the room, it also means that you have to be careful about the tone of light entering the room.
While sunlight is the best source of light for a room that has been painted white, not everybody is fortunate enough to have an abundance of natural light. People must turn to artificial light.
If the artificial light you are using has cooler tones like green, blue or gray, it threatens to make the entire room dull as the light will reflect off the wall. In other words, if you have a white room with limited sunlight, you really have to consider the type and color of artificial light you are using.
Value of a Good White Paint Finish
A good finish of white paint can be a better replacement for a brighter or flashier color. White paint is forgiving as it does not give away the imperfections of the wall but provided you use the right finish.
The higher the sheen of the finish, the easier the wall will be to clean and the more durable the paint will be. In case of any mishaps with gravy or a glass of wine, you can simply take a dry cloth or sponge and wipe the wall.
But the shinier the finish is, the more likely it is that it will highlight marks or dirt on the wall. You can bring it down a notch and settle for the semi-glossy paint finish. There are also other types of finish such as satin and eggshell which have some gloss but are considerably less shiny than the high and semi-gloss options.
Finally, if you want something completely stripped of gloss, you can opt for the matte or flat finish. The flat finish is best used in areas that have low traffic and where the paint is not likely to get damaged because it isn’t as resistant to scuffs and stains.
Make A Fresh Start With White Paint
As has been mentioned above, white paint is one of the easiest, quickest and cheapest ways to redecorate your house. If you are looking to sell your house, this is an even better option. You want the house to look clean and well taken care of when potential buyers come, so you may want to add another coat of paint to the walls to give it a clean finish.
The white paint will also allow the potential buyers to visualize how they will decorate the space and presents them with a clean slate to redo the house as their own. White paint is also more forgiving so even if you do an average job of painting the walls, it can still be presentable for an open house or for potential buyers.
If you want to put your home on the market, real estate agents suggest white may be the safest and cleanest option to paint your walls. The color goes with everything and is the perfect blank canvas to start with.
In case you want to change your existing decor for an open house, you can do that easily with white walls.
White Paint and the Fading Problem
White paint does have a problem of fading, especially when it is exposed to strong sunlight for a long time. If you have picked a ‘pure’ white shade, it could take on a yellow hue as it fades. However, this is not a problem that white paint alone faces.
Any color will fade when it is exposed to direct sunlight for a long time. You should consider retouching the paint with another coat every two years or so, or sooner if you feel it has faded more than you like.
However, the one fading problem that is peculiar to white paint is that people’s eyesight also adjusts to seeing the white as flat as there is no other contrast. Whenever you are amidst stark white surroundings, the eyes need to strain as there is nothing to break the monotony of the bright color.
The pupils need to adjust and dilate in turn which desensitizes the eyesight. The white color automatically looks dull or faded as that is how your eyes are accustomed to seeing it. Therefore, it is important to add other elements of color and accents so the brightness of the white paint can be maintained.
The Effect Of Sunlight On White Paint
Again, white paint is often deployed to make any space look bigger and brighter. If your room does not have enough natural light, often you may think of taking recourse to a bright coat of white paint.
White paint has the unique property of instantly brightening the space. However, you should appreciate that white paint is by no means a replacement for sunlight. You can make up for the lack of sunlight in your home to a certain degree, but white paint is not the solution.
The only thing that gives the effect of natural sunlight is the sun itself. You should try to see if you can make any structural changes to the room and carve out a window somewhere. Even if not a full-fledged window, perhaps even an opening for a skylight.
If there is no way for you to get natural light into the room, another solution is to invest in indirect lighting. This comes closest to simulating natural light as the source of the light will be hidden but it is spread around the room through reflection on the floor, ceiling, walls, etc. These sources of light paired with white walls can come close to substituting sunlight in the room but are still not exact substitutes.
White Walls and Accessory Decor
As has been mentioned in the sections above, white walls alone are not the way to decorate a room. This is the blank canvas on which to build the aesthetic of your room.
The full impact of the room will be seen when along with the white walls of the room, you also add elements that make the white stand out (or recede into the background, depending on what you want to highlight).
No matter what decor style you choose, whites are an element you can play around with and create a unique style.
If you want to create a minimalist effect, the white bare walls will go incredibly with other accents and perhaps a pop of color here and there to break the monotony. Even if you want to try a more colorful, baroque approach, the white of the walls will lend the appropriate contrast so that the busy prints and colors do not look confusing or muddled.
Think of how you will furnish the room, what type of fixtures you want to introduce to the room and what accessories will add depth to the whites of the room and enhance the overall aesthetic.
White Walls and Maintenance
White walls are also easy to maintain provided you use the right finish. The concern most people have about white walls is that you may spill something on the walls by accident or if you have a younger child they may go to town on your pristine white walls with a Sharpie. Of course, if you have the right type of paint finish you do not have to worry about these things.
The glossier the paint finish is, the easier it is to wipe off any stains. So in areas like the kitchen where you could be dealing with highly pigmented ingredients, you may want to get the high-gloss paint finish.
But while the paint finish defense is one that applies to other colors as well, white walls are also more forgiving when it comes to painting touch-ups.
This is because the contrast between the old faded white and the new coat of paint will be less noticeable, compared to darker or brighter colors. Of course, if someone were to look closely the correction may be visible. But the contrast is flattened out enough that this is not the first thing that the eye catches.
However, flat or matte paint finishes are also easier to touch up as they do not give away the mistakes so readily. Glossy paint finish can be more unforgiving in this regard.
Sleeping With White Walls
White is a color that is often associated with calmness and peace. If you have ever been to a meditation retreat, you may have found that the walls are a ‘pure’ white or pastel colors which are closer to white compared to other colors that have darker pigments.
Studies in sleep psychology have also found that greens and whites are much better for sound sleep than dark colors like reds. White walls with accents of green (perhaps through indoor plants) are said to be one of the best combinations for sleep.
White is a grounding color that does not stress the eyes too much if it is paired with the right colors and accents. It can make a room feel airy, spacious and warm at the same time.
So if you are looking to paint your bedroom, this is an advisable direction to go in but you should certainly think of the other accents and colors you will be working with.
There may be analogies like ‘sleeping in a cloud’ for a pristine white room. But remember to also add color elements of the skies and the trees you can see below as the white of the clouds alone can also lead to dullness.
The Wide Variety of White Paints
Often painting your home or even your car white is jokingly associated with indecision. “Oh nevermind fellas, he couldn’t decide on a color so he just went with white!” you may hear someone say. However, technically white paint is the opposite of indecision. In fact, finding the right shade of white for your home can be one of the toughest decisions to make.
Any big paint company will have shades white running into double digits, at times even triple digits! Since white is the base color for a variety of other paints, you can add all kinds of undertones to get a unique shade of white. The main difference in undertones is between warm undertones and cool undertones.
Vanilla and cream are examples of whites with warm undertones. Warm undertones often have hues of yellow, red or pink. Similarly, whites with undertones of gray, blue or green are considered shades with cool undertones.
In other words, when you pick white for your walls, it does not have to be a bland or blinding white. There is a wide range of shades under the umbrella of white. This is a space of nuance that you can play around in and have a lot of fun doing so!
The ‘White’ House
Now, it would be unfair to talk at such length about white paint without once mentioning the most famous house that is painted white—the home of the President of the United States. The White House derives its name from the pristine white color of its facade. The historic building was first conceptualized and constructed beginning in 1792. The structure has seen several changes in the last four centuries, but its current name comes from the beginning of the 20th century.
According to the official website, the stunning neo-classical style building requires 570 gallons of paint for its external surface alone! Another tweet from the official White House Historical Association account also revealed that while the original structure was coated with a lime-based whitewash, the shade that is now used is Duron’s ‘Whisper White’. Now, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could say the shade in your bedroom is the same as what adorns the walls of the White House?
Popular Paint Makes
There are several popular names in the market when it comes to finding the right kind of paint. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Valspar are some of the legacy names in the United States when it comes to paints. Some of the popular shades of white from these companies include:
- Benjamin Moore: Cloud Nine (neutral, clean white), Chantilly Lace (white with a cool gray undertone) and Crisp Linen (warm white with a pink undertone).
- Sherwin-Williams: Pure White (clean with no hidden undertones), Extra White (crisp but not overtly stark) and Egret White (crisp modern white with gray undertone).
- Valspar: Honeymilk (warm with a hint of grey or beige), Perfect White (clean white with no hidden undertones) and Thousand Shells (a unique white with hints of pink and gray).
Finally, Why Would You Want to Paint a Room in a Monotone Like White?
As the sections above have indicated, white may be a color that looks flat if it is used in excess but with the right combination of colors, accents and accessories, this is the color that can elevate the look of any room. Starting your decoration process with bare white walls is one of the best ways to start decorating your home or room, as it is akin to beginning with a blank canvas!
In the last few decades, the minimalist aesthetic has become popular thanks to styles inspired by class Scandinavian designs. If this is an aesthetic you had in mind, white paint is your best friend! Experiment with shades of white and explore various options for accessories, light sources and complementary furnishings and fixtures.
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