Believe it or not, painting your walls white isn’t as simple as it may seem. White paint comes in countless shades with variations that can ultimately make or break the look of a space, and not all white paints are created equal. If you’ve seen a shade of white paint that you like online or in stores, there are a few things to consider before purchasing it.
The undertones of paint are either warm or cool, and certain undertones work best for particular design styles. So it’s important to consider the style of your home before picking a shade of white paint. Cool-toned white paints enhance modern rooms with clean, sharp design aspects. Warm-toned white paints are cozier and complement earthy colors and decor. To determine if a paint color has cool or warm undertones, hold a swatch up to a piece of white paper. If the swatch looks yellow or red in comparison, then it’s a warmer white. If it looks gray or blue, then it’s a cooler white.
After considering your design style, examine the natural light in the space to be painted since the paint will reflect that light. South-facing rooms have more of a warm, bright light due to direct exposure to the sun. This can create a yellow cast that cool-toned paints can help counteract. North-facing rooms don’t get direct sunlight, so the light entering them will have a cool blueish or grayish cast that warm white paints can balance out. Because the light in east- and west-facing rooms varies throughout the day, both warm- and cool-toned paints can work in these spaces depending on what you use them for and when you use them. In rooms with little to no natural light, white paints with neutral or slightly warm tones can open the space, creating a lighter, airier feeling.
Paint sheens show damage in various ways, so it’s important to pick the right finish for your room. Eggshell is a popular option for walls because it’s more durable and easier to clean than flat paint. However, because it has some shine to it, it will reflect natural light more. Matte and flat finishes don’t have a shine, so the paint will appear true to color. On the downside, they are harder to maintain since they tend to show more scuffs, so consider the foot traffic in the area you’re painting since you’ll have to clean or touch up the paint periodically.
Deciding which white paints would be ideal for your home isn’t always easy, but by taking the time to consider all these factors and even testing a few options in your home, you can arrive at the perfect shades for your living spaces.