How to Select the Perfect White Paint

Tips and tricks to do white the right way from Benjamin Moore colour and design expert Sharon Grech

Credit: Benjamin Moore

The right white foresight

It’s the perfect blank canvas, the cleanest backdrop to your favourite home accents. It’s a fresh start, a new potential or a neutral balance. It’s no wonder that white, the most versatile choice of paint, is also the most popular – especially when it comes to interior spaces. There’s a shade to suit every situation and satisfy even the choosiest tastes. With over 140 shades available in its off-white collection, Benjamin Moore understands that white needn’t be devoid of colour, nor of personality.

But selecting the right white can sometimes seem a daunting prospect. Finding the shade that sets the right mood, complements the furniture and suits the room’s purpose takes a bit of know-how. For this, we asked Sharon Grech, colour and design expert from Benjamin Moore for her advice.

Click through to read Grech’s top tips and tricks for choosing the perfect white paint

Credit: Adapted from Flickr/Serge Kij

Get inspired

“Look online and in magazines for inspiration of whites used in rooms that you love. Benjamin Moore also has great resources online and in-store where you can view beautiful room settings in an array of hues including white. Don’t choose the white in isolation – be sure to consider the context of the room you are painting when selecting the right white.”

Think It Through

“Whites can be warm, they can be cool; they can punctuate and they can also camouflage. White can make a room feel spacious, airy, modern – or it can make it feel sterile, unfinished and dated. You really have to put as much thought into choosing the right white as you would with any other colour. White shouldn’t just be a default colour decision… that’s when things go wrong.”

Credit: Benjamin Moore

View Paint in its Environment

“It really helps to lay several white chips next to one another to spot the undertone differences. However, it’s even more important to view your white samples vertically, as they will appear on the wall, and in the context of the furnishings and lighting conditions of the room. Every white paint option is unique due to its pigment composition. A white formula often has black and grey tones, but may even include pigments such as red, yellow, green or blue. And that’s before the paint leaves the paint store!

“Once it’s on the walls, a shade of white will continue to diversify as it takes on the personality of the room. Furnishings, flooring and lighting conditions all bring the undertones of the white to the forefront. Sun exposure, as well as the type and strength of artificial lighting, will influence the white differently, especially as it changes throughout the day.”

Credit: Benjamin Moore

Consider the Complement

“If you have deep baseboards or any interesting architectural details like crown moldings, you may want to highlight them. Our eyes naturally gravitate to the lightest element in a room, so if the trim is painted white in contrast to the walls and other elements in the room, they will stand out. Sometimes you want to minimize the attraction of the trim and draw the eye elsewhere in the room. In this case, use the same colour as the wall for the trim, or a few shades lighter or darker, but change the sheen to a semi-gloss or gloss for interest.

“If you have other whites at home in furnishings, flooring, fixtures or anything else that you are trying to complement, don’t trust your memory of those whites. Keep a colour sample of the items to bring with you when you are looking at paint samples.”

Credit: Benjamin Moore

Don’t Assume All Whites are Created Equal

“My number one piece of advice for colour selection is always “test drive” the colour first by purchasing a Benjamin Moore pint sample. This is truly the most accurate way to see the undertones and ensure you have chosen the perfect white. Even if you are confident in your selection, I would still suggest bringing samples of textiles and other colours from your home to the store so you have a point of reference as you are making your final selection.  The differences in white may appear very subtle until they are magnified on your wall.”

Credit: Benjamin Moore

Keep it Clean

“Sheen can make a big difference to any colour, including white. With a glossier finish, you will see more detail, which for elaborate trim can be an advantage – but for imperfect walls, maybe not so much. Changing the sheen is a great way to use the same colour throughout a space, while subtly drawing more attention to particular details. This is a common treatment regardless of colour – a matte or eggshell finish is often paired with a semi-gloss or high-gloss trim. Features like mouldings, baseboards and elaborate architectural details tend to collect dust more easily, but glossier paints make dusting and everyday cleaning that much easier.

“Regular cleaning is the best form of maintenance, however. While Benjamin Moore’s advanced Waterborne technology and pigment system prevents aging and maintains the integrity of the white, scuffs and dirt will still be a visible hazard. Luckily, Benjamin Moore Premium products are durable and easy to clean in any sheen, so you don’t have to work as hard for your white. If you have lots of messy fingers and animal paws around your house, white may not be the best choice as you will be busy with frequent clean-up jobs. But if you don’t mind, then go for it!”