Blog post about picking off white paint

kathecFebruary 11, 2011

I posted this in the kitchen and home decorating forum too.

It can be a major source of frustration. You Google 'til the wee hours of the morning, should I do White Dove, Mayonnaise, Cloud White, Marscarpone, Blah, Blah, Blah. Megan from Frugal Farmhouse Design posted about how she picks off whites. This is probably one of the most informative. I never would have thought to have the store print out the formula. Based on the tints, you can better determine which undertones it will have. Or maybe, narrow the field WAY down. I've been buying samples and have a list of samples I want as long as my elbow. Don't even ask me how much I've spent so far, LOL! So, take a look.

Here is a link that might be useful: Frugal Farmhouse Design off white paint

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Lori A. Sawaya

Unless you're the dude or dudette who mixes gallons of paint from sun up to sun down then one really does NOT have one fat clue what an extra 32nd of yellow oxide - or whatever - "base tint" is going to do to a can of paint. By "base tint" I think she means colorant. And if you ARE that dude or dudette you know better than to count your chickens before they hatch - or in this case before the draw-down is dry.

This is the kind of bogas color information that makes it harder for people to navigate a paint store, not easier. If she really spent as much time in a paint store as she says she does, she wouldn't be spewing this crap..... So, I know that was harsh. Let me soften the blow a little:

Everyone who is just starting out in their effort to build their paint & color knowledge thinks there is some magical code to be found in the formula. And they always believe they're the first one to think of it, the first one to crack said imaginary code.

The guy behind the paint counter will print out the formula for you - no problem. If you say you need it because by seeing the formula you'll know what the undertone is going to look like, he's not going to ask any questions. He's not going to try to re-educate you. Reading formulas or reading tea leaves - whatever you say - fine by him. He's going to print the label with formula like he always does while hoping you'll shut the hell up and quit taking up real estate at his counter. The "great relationship" with the paint store is always good to hear. Translated that means they've got her wrapped. They're simply doing their job. Excellent customer relations sells paint. Every can counts.

Don't mean to piss in anyone's Cheerios by my knocking the information in this link. But. . .

If someone wants to speak to how to use the formula in predicting how a paint color's undertone is going to materialize once in situ, then they do need to cough up significant data, some facts, specific examples with pictures. They do indeed need to bore us with the details of exact formulas.

Been down the road of this conversation a million times. Press the "read the formula folks" for more information, better details, explore an in depth conversation about how this *really* works for them and the back peddling is enough to alter earth's axial tilt.

With that said, I always cut them some slack. Not like they're the first ones to believe there's some kind of special color magic to discover and write about. What you won't find, however, is any one of these Don Quixotes of color qualifying what they claim to have seen. Given some time and slack they'll return to reality. After their color adventures, they almost always come to realize there are no short-cuts. The reality of 3D color doesn't come printed on a paint can label.

In the 7+ years I've been posting on the GW, I have never jumped forums to dual post. I think it's poor form to post twice. Totally my own hang-up and standard -- don't expect anyone else to feel the same way about double posting. I am making an exception to my own rule in this case and I'm hopin' forums to post this twice because I think it's important. May the forum Gods forgive me.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 5:42PM
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I don't normally cross post either, but I thought it was important. I thought I was being helpful as so many people struggle with this particular color.

Consider my hand slapped with a big ruler.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:58AM
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Lori A. Sawaya

I made it very clear that it was totally my own hang-up. Lots of people cross post - across this forum and many others all day every day.

It's just I don't like to do it and many folks who follow me know that. So, I felt the need to further explain because I made an exception in this particular instance.

Really, it wasn't about you. Or your hand. Or a big ruler.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 7:17PM
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I think if the "dudes or dudettes who mix gallons of paint from sun up to sun down" were more helpful in educating the public, we wouldn't need to devise our own theories about paint color. Frankly, my experience, especially with the dudes, is that they would rather just mix the paint and not express an opinion. It's kind of like shopping in a state run liquor store. You're on your own. With this kind of customer service, I may have an allegiance to a brand of paint, but I can go to any of their stores for a formula print out if that's all I wanted.

I appreciate Kathec's trying to be helpful. If I come across information I think may be helpful to others, I like to pass it on too. So what if she double posts. I'm new to the forum and don't "follow" anyone. Your reply was not helpful at all.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 2:38PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

I agree- so what if Kethec double posts. Like I said several times now I don't like to post repetitive information across multiple forums but other people can do whatever they want to.

The www is already saturated with misinformation about paint and color. Truly one more link added to the bunch isn't going to make a difference one way or the other. Buy in to whatever makes you happy and go for it.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 5:00PM
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I think Kathec had the right intention in being helpful...but funcolors, having great experience in these matters, offered a helpful reality check. There's enough confusing information out there already, and nothing can substitute seeing actual paint in your space.

I like comparing formulas when I'm debating between colors, but I mix paint & have an idea of what I'm looking at...and even then, I end up spending too much on paint samples because there's no substitute for seeing the real thing.

As for the folks mixing paint being helpful, they've likely been there long enough to know that people see color differently and colors will look completely different in the store vs on your wall. If they help you pick a color you don't like, they have to deal with an angry customer blaming them. Plus, very few people trained in mixing paint are trained in interior design or color theory, so they might not be the best people to ask beyond what tints go in the can (I hear that some BM stores have color experts, no doubt high end stores do...but the average joe hardware store does not). Personally, I'd have no problem telling a customers the paint formulas if they were debating between colors. However, if they want to do this with 12 colors while I need to help other helpfulness is going to be challenged a bit. People get paid to be color consultants for a reason.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 10:07PM
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I agree with what you're saying, jessicaml. I just feel a "helpful reality check" by funcolors could have been done without being rude and condescending. Behavior like that just makes people afraid to post.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 11:44PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Helpful reality check was a very nice way to put it, jessica, thanks. :)

But honestly I have little control over if it's perceived as rude or condescending -- if someone is going to choose to take what I write as rude and condescending there's really nothing I can do about their issues.

My bottom line is always the same, professional, accurate information about paint and color. I'm not about sugar-coating the facts just so people can feel brave about posting.

Perhaps the difference in this case is that this is a public forum outside of blogosphere. Blogs have a markedly different tone and tend to focus only on the happy, fluffy, supportive cheerleading-like aspects of that community. Opposing points of view are avoided and are rarely -if ever- stated. Blogoshphere mentality isn't programed for debate in any way shape or form. A lot of sunshine gets blown around.

And, well, this isn't a blog. Pasteurized opinion is as rare here as debate is in blogland.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 10:33AM
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Paint formuals are hardly a secret. BUT...sometimes they'll give erroneous info. to people who are "set" in their thinking that "Color X" has a "yellow undertone".

(This just happened to a customer at our store! I let her know the formula...which had no Yellow in it!! It had some Yellow-Oxide in it, but it's a browny-gold kinda yellow...not "yellow" at all. Separately, most BEIGES have Black and Red or Red-Oxide in them!)

Overall, customers may be "right" only about half the time, relative to what they SEE in a color. The other 50% of the time....I mention..." doesn't have "X" in it Ma'am."

Whad'ya do?!?! Oh Well!

Fun-C can be "direct", but I've read her stuff for years now.'s a "respectfull" direct. It's her living, and She knows her field. There's a LOT of wisdom behind her statements. I like the way She blasts through some misconceptions out there too!

I'm one of those "Mixing paint all day" dudes! I don't step ONE INCH into choosing a color for someone! I can describe the actual paint differences, best sheen use, its colorants, good tools to use, prep, reasons for a technique, priming choices, etc......

BUT...ME choosing color?! NO.
We turn that over to one of our Decorators, who see many colors "In Situ", with many flooring styles, lighting, etc.
It's a whole 'nother universe of knowledge, which I have little exposure to.

I wish more consumers would realize that subtle (but HUGE!) difference! Humorously, it's like asking your plumber to finish-up your taxes!


    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 11:46AM
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