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4 Reasons Why Light Affects Paint Color

Posted on April 04, 2016 by Kate Moynihan | 0 comments

4 Tips On Lighting are below. You may appreciate them a bit more after reading this incident of another life's lesson I learned.

See that long, long GREEN wall in the photograph?  I painted it green several winters ago when the wall was ho-hum beige. Back then, I decided we needed a touch of pizazz so I picked a fresh spring green to paint the 84 foot wall.

To begin this project, I had to unscrew the 14 floating shelves that matched the beige wall and painted them green.

Next it was time to tackle the long wall. Starting pre-dawn, I rolled away.

While I painted the wall, Larry, my husband, was puttering with the track lighting fixtures. He had just purchased the new and improved fluorescent lightbulbs. This was the big switch from the traditional halogen bulbs. Until this revolutionary new and improved lightbulb was created, halogens were the only choice. But the lightbulb change-over came with a big initial investment.

“Over time,” Larry said fiddling with the new, expensive lightbulbs. “We’ll save more than the cost of the lightbulbs because they’ll draw a lot less electricity.” 

I shrugged and painted, merrily. The fresh green paint over the drab beige was lighting up my spirit, shrugging off Larry’s lightbulb fiddling.

“Ouch! These old bulbs are hot,” he sputtered. I looked up and saw Larry juggling a halogen bulb in his gloved hands.“These new, cooler bulbs are going to save on our air conditioning bill, too,” Larry bragged.

He was right; the old sizzling bulbs had our cooling bill on overdrive running as high as $800.00 a month. 

The day progressed and soon dusk was approaching. I was losing precious daylight as Larry had the power off while he tinkered with the light fixtures.

Hustling, I rolled my last stroke of the second coat. I was covered in paint spatter and my knees ached from climbing up and down the ladder to trim the 13-foot ceiling edge. I was exhausted but delighted with the fresh green color. It felt like I could smell the summer lawn!

Then it happened.

Larry flicked the power.

The new lights hummed, slowly becoming brighter.

“Oh! No!” I shrieked.

My happy green wall instantly turned to split-pea soup, and not the luscious homemade kind. The walls looked like the foul-smelling snot that drips out your nose when you have a sinus infection.

It wasn’t much of a stand-off. The new, cost-saving, irritating lights won. The next day I was back at the paint store, testing a new shade of green.

I learned lights do matter. Today you can buy warm and cool halogen bulbs, but back then, I was re-rolling 14 shelves and one 84 foot wall. Have you ever had a day like that? Or maybe two rough days, like me? Remember that fuchsia wall color in the photograph, click here for another story.

4 Reasons Why Light Affects Paint Color

  1. The obvious tip: The lightbulb. I can't write fast enough to keep up with the improvements of the lightbulb. They seem to change daily. There is even “smart” LED bulbs whose color you can control wirelessly! My word of advise, have your lighting in place before painting and picking your wall color.
  2. Consider both: overhead and accent lighting. My story above focused on overhead lighting. Give some thought to the light swishes you'll be turning on in the room. Will you need overall light for cooking like in a kitchen or will you be using an cozy lamp for reading?
  3. Consider sunlight. Natural light changes throughout the day and is affected by a room’s location. As the amount and angle of the sun changes, so will the color values of your room. Pay attention to the time of day you plan to use this room. Also consider your hemisphere location. For me, in Michigan, summer verses winter day lengths will affect the mood of the room.                                                                                         North-facing rooms: Since little sunlight will penetrate this room you may want to choose a lighter, bolder, warmer color. The lack of sunlight make most colors feel a bit more cool and bluish.                                                                                        South-facing rooms: The most powerful affects of the sun will be seen in this room. Lots of natural light brings out the best in cool and warm colors. Dark colors will look brighter; lighter colors will virtually glow.                                                            East-facing rooms: East light is warm and yellowy before noon, then turns bluer later in the day. These are great rooms for reds, oranges and yellows.                                                                                                                                                          West-facing rooms: Evening light in these rooms is beautiful and warm, while scant morning light can produce shadows and make colors look dull.
  4.  Paint Quality: The gloss level of a paint will affect how it reflects light. The higher the gloss level, the higher the sheen – more light will bounce off a surface painted with a high gloss paint than one with a matte finish. As a rule, higher gloss paints tend to enrich and brighten color.

When selecting a paint color and decorating a space, some things are controllable, while others are not. I encourage you to consider light, location, and how you plan to enjoy your space. Good luck and have fun. Let me know if you learn another tip for me.

 

 

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