What does @ 50% of paint color mean?

psyoheAugust 23, 2013

In 2010, jjsweenc showed the final kitchen pictures. In that post she said that she used BM Quiet Moments for the kitchen and living room walls @ 50% formula of Quiet Moments.

Can someone explain what that means? What would the other 50% color be?


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You use the normal amount of base color and add 50% of the colorant. So, if your base is white, the other 50% is white. It makes a softer version of the original shade.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 6:00PM
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Paint formulas start out as a base, and drops of color tint are added. A 50% formula means only half as many drops of each color are added. For practical purposes, the other half could be construed as "white", but tint bases are not truly pure white.
(x)% formulas are often used for ceilings in a room, to add some contrast, without going to a white ceiling.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 6:07PM
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What's the advantage of this over moving up the color card to a lighter color? Seems like with a % there is the wildcard of what the base brings to the table in terms of color affecting the final appearance, especially with the medium/dark bases.

I've often wondered about this too!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 7:24PM
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I think one advantage is it's a very simple way for a designer, or owner, to "lighten up" or soften a color they want, keeping the same name. Also, the formulas which for the most part are computer processed, are pretty much standardly cross referenced among most brands, should one happen to choose a color in one brand, but prefer the paint qualities of another.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 7:43PM
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I'm sure other, more knowlegeable paint people will chime in here soon, but til then, here's my answer: It all depends. ;-).

1) Sometimes, moving up on the paint card works just fine

2) On other occasions, I had better luck using 50-75% formula

3) Still other times, adding white to my original sample color until I achieved the desired color was more satisfactory. (I'd then just bring a paint swatch of the newly obtained color to my local SW, where they do a fantastic job color-matching. )

Sometimes, when I simply move up on the color card, it ends up having a slightly different undertone than my original choice

Hope you can glean some kernel of wisdom from that wishy-washy answer!

1 Like    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 7:56PM
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Moving up on the paint card usually goes to a totally different color- not necessarily a lighter shade of the one you like.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 8:32PM
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Wouldn't it be easier to look it up in the encycolorpedia and just match the lighter shade by color code? It gives gradients from your color to white and black. Wouldn't any tint in the color base be more prominent at 50%?

I find color to be the hardest part of remodeling/decorating. I'm not good with undertones most of the time, and I'd love to be able to go lighter/darker with confidence.

I'm hoping if I can figure out what all the stuff on the encycolorpedia page means I'll understand color a bit better. I found it by accident looking for a paint pic I could save (didnt find one, but this is cool too).

Here is a link that might be useful: Encycolorpedia

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 10:21PM
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I was told something similar to what 2LF just said. My color consultant told me that shades on a color card are not shades of the deepest color on the card with progressively less color added to them as you go towards the lightest color. IOW, the lightest color isn't just the darkest color shade with more white added to it. The colors on a card are simply complimentary to each other. Sometimes the undertones are a bit different if you look closely.

I view trying a named color at 50% (or 75% or 150%) of that color as just another color to try out on the way to finding the right one.

1 Like    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 2:36AM
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Looking at it from the other end, i.e. the color. I have Yarmouth Blue on the walls and 25% (i.e. 75% white added) on the ceiling. It's very pretty but definitely a very different color, i.e. not the same as YB but lighter. Rather, it reads quite a bit grayer than YB.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 7:15AM
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White is cool so if you are starting with a warm color (even a warm blue) and reduce pigment, thereby raising the relative proportion of white, you will be slightly cooling down the color. You are changing the chroma, not just making it less saturated.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 8:52AM
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Wow, this is making sense to me. Thanks to you all for helping.

Let me see if I have this straight.
1. the three colors on the card have different colors. I thought they were just lighter or darker.....now I know they are just complementary. I think that is why I keep choosing the wrong paint color.

2. If I choose a paint color, but it is too dark, I should try only 75% of the tint to go lighter or 50% to go even more lighter. If I need a color darker I would ask for 125% or 150%.

I got lost on the last thing Sayde wrote. "thereby raising the relative proportion of white." That one went over my head.

I can see why I was having so much trouble choosing a paint color. I could open a sample store with all the samples I have bought.....but it beats buying a gallon of a color that I don't like.

I am also having trouble with morning paint colors vs what they look like in different light....at night. They are so different. If I like the daytime color, I don't like the night time color and vice versa.

I have to choose a paint color soon. My daughter's wedding is in October.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:46AM
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Funcolors over in Paint says that changing the percentage of the pigments does not result in a lighter shade of the same color, for various reasons.

How colors are laid out on a card varies by manufacturer, even their own lines. Some are a progression, others not. I would imagine some look like a progression but technically adjustments have been made to make it work that way, so be careful asking if they arrive there by "percentages". You might get a "no" but the results are intended to be so.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Thanks to this thread I asked for 75% color last weekend when I found a grey I liked except that it was a bit too dark. The result was exactly what I was hoping for, and it was easier than trying to find the perfect color on the fan. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 12:01PM
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My bedroom walls are a soft sage (BM Camouflage). On the same color card, at the top, is Breezy's cabinet paint (BM Simple White). Not remotely a lighter version of sage green.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 12:31PM
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I think the cards are just colors that work well together or are a similar type of color. I wouldn't worry about how they got there.

But it is very useful to know about altering the amount of pigment. A lot of people find success with it. You can also increase, for example, try 125 or 150 percent.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 12:57

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 12:55PM
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I am going to try using a percentage on my next sample of paint. Peke

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 1:10AM
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