WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR DARK GRAY PAINT COLORS?
When it comes to the best DARK shades of gray, it’s ALL in the undertones. And not just that, it’s about MATCHING these undertones to your interior finishes – regardless of your personal tastes. This means that if your home loves a violet, blue or green undertone, and you don’t, you might need to take a deep cleansing breath (and a glass
OR TEN of wine helps) and focus on what your home is asking for.
EVERY GRAY HAS UNDERTONES
For those of you hoping for the EVER-ELUSIVE perfectly neutral gray, I hate to tinkle on your toenails, but grays have undertones. And not just gray paint colors, but gray SURFACES too. That gray tile that looks pretty darn neutral? Yup. Your sectional sofa that’s the perfect dark charcoal? You bet your booty it does. Even your brand-new white quartz countertop with gray veining has undertones. Once you figure out the undertones of your interior finishes, it will be easier to pick the best paint color to go with them (if your room is a blank slate, then focus more on the exposure of your room).
While the gray areas in the above wood wall look ‘gray,’ they have a definite violet undertone, making Benjamin Moore Trout Gray a great choice!
But regardless of the undertone, compared to Sherwin William’s selection (more limited), Benjamin Moore kicks some serious badonkadonk, so let’s get started.
BTW, You’ll find that ALL of these colors have LRVs that are lower than 30. Not sure what LRV is? It could save your PAINT LOVIN’ LIFE – read all about it HERE.
1. BENJAMIN MOORE CHELSEA GRAY HC-168
WARM GRAY-GREEN UNDERTONE
Chelsea Gray has an LRV of 22, making it a popular choice for cabinets, exteriors, and even all the walls in a room! With that moderate LRV, it’s the right depth to add drama and style to a space without weighing it down too much.
In the above dining room, look at how sharp Chelsea Gray looks with the white trim work. You’ll get a similar look using Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace with Chelsea Gray.
And while sometimes you don’t see it at all, Chelsea Gray has a green undertone. It’s also classified as a WARM gray, but you won’t see it looking TRADITIONALLY warm like Metropolis (coming shortly).
In this kitchen (below), Chelsea Gray looks simple and low in contrast with the black laminate countertops, letting the white subway tile and cabinets do the contrasting…
2. BENJAMIN MOORE STEEL WOOL 2121-20
Steel Wool goes in the OPPOSITE direction to Chelsea Gray (as it relates to undertones). Whereas Chelsea Gray has a green undertone and a tiny wink o’ warmth, Steel Wool is a COOL gray paint color with a violet-blue undertone.
The great thing about Steel Wool is its flexibility, nodding at the blue and the violet end of things without 100% commitment. And it does all of this while still looking more or less ‘gray’, as shown in this next entryway photo…
The trim color in the above photo is Benjamin Moore Cloud White, a white with a wink of warmth to offset the cool approach of Steel Wool.
3. BENJAMIN MOORE GRAYSTONE 1475
WARM GRAY – VERY SUBTLE GREEN UNDERTONE
Benjamin Moore Graystone has an LRV of almost 30, making it one of the LIGHTER options on this page. When it comes to this particular type of warm gray, I would love to show you something a bit darker, but if we bump down just ONE NOTCH to Squirrel Tail, we pick up a green that’s more distracting than a streaker at a football game (it wasn’t me, I swear).
But compared to the slightly warmer greige end of things, Graystone holds itself AMAZINGLY well as it relates to undertones. While it nods at green, it’s more of a polite nod than a ‘come hither’ one. In the above photo, you’ll see Graystone with White Dove trim and a Cheating Heart door.
Look at how much more GREEN shows up to the party in this next foyer with warm white trim and a GORGEOUS wood front door. Remember, your room’s EXPOSURE, interior lighting, and surrounding finishes play a HUGE part in how a color is perceived.
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4. BENJAMIN MOORE GRAY 2121-10
Seriously, I could go on and on about Gray…SO I WILL! Gray is not just GRAY; it’s a very dark charcoal with a reasonably strong violet-blue undertone. I can’t even TELL you how often I refer this color to my Online Color Consulting clients.
With an LRV of ALMOST 10, it’s one of the darkest options out there – at least before things start looking blackish, at which point it’s ALL in the sheen. In the above photo, notice how the semi-gloss sheen of the paint bounces the light, making Gray look LIGHTER than you might expect.
Gray was the perfect choice as a backdrop to my client’s art (below). While the art is a BIT big for the wall space, it’s still pretty badass…
BTW, if you go to the paint store, you HAVE to ask for Gray 2121-10, including its number. Why? Because if you just ask for GRAY, the employee will say, ‘which GRAY do you want?‘ and you’ll be on an endless Ferris wheel of misery trying to figure out WHICH gray you’re referring to.
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5. BENJAMIN MOORE METROPOLIS CC-546
WARM GRAY – VIOLET UNDERTONE
Metropolis is one of the BEST warm gray paint colors on the market. Some warm grays lean so far that they’re mistaken for taupe, and others are so subtle they don’t always have ENOUGH warmth. Metropolis sits right in the middle and is a great choice, especially for some granite countertops from the early 2000s.
Metropolis has a violet undertone, and while it’s not shy about it, it’s also not overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination.
6. BENJAMIN MOORE AMHERST GRAY HC-167
Amherst Gray is a HUGELY popular dark gray paint color, coming in a hot second place to Chelsea Gray. With an LRV of 17, Amherst Gray has more meat on its bones without going as dark as Kendall Charcoal (also lovely).
But remember, there are ALWAYS sneaky undertones, and Amherst Gray comes in HOT with a green undertone that can come up considerably depending on its surroundings…
Really, when it comes to Chelsea Gray, Amherst Gray, and Kendall Charcoal, just ASSUME you’ll see green.
7. BENJAMIN MOORE TROUT GRAY 2124-20
I have MAD love for Trout Gray as it’s a gray that’s colorful enough to be interesting without being overwhelming in its approach. As for undertones, Trout Gray leans nicely into blue, a blue that leans HARD into violet, as shown in this powder room with personality.
Want a bit more COLOR? Check out Benjamin Moore Wolf Gray; she’s a beauty!
The MOST NEUTRAL Dark Gray Paint Colors
While the above options are the most POPULAR dark gray paint colors, this next section is about the most NEUTRAL dark grays. Why aren’t they included above? Well, they’re rarely used, and this is because the majority of interior finishes NEED gray paint colors with noticeable undertones! This doesn’t mean these options aren’t pretty; they’re just not POPULAR.
I also don’t have full reviews of these colors OR photos to show you simply because I don’t refer to them as often, meaning these are SUPER brief summaries…
8. BENJAMIN MOORE ASPHALT CC-548
Asphalt has an LRV 19.71 and a VERY slight violet undertone. This makes it an interesting option for exteriors with roofing, stonework or brickwork that need a more passive approach. It’s also an interesting cabinet color when little undertone is needed.
9. BENJAMIN MOORE OVERCOAT CC-544
With an LRV 13.47, Overcoat has a similar approach to Asphalt with a slightly stronger violet undertone and a bit more MEAT on its bones. Overcoat would be a beautiful exterior option, as well as for front doors and dramatic feature walls.
10. BENJAMIN MOORE DOLPHIN AF-715
Dolphin has an LRV of 22.52, making it the lightest of these last three. It also has a negligible undertone, maybe a tiny wink green. The risk with this color is that if your finishes have a violet undertone, Dolphin could look flat or even slightly green just in comparison. Not sure this is possible? Take a sample of Benjamin Moore Metropolis and place it next to Dolphin and watch the magic unfold before your eyes! Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic as the shift is subtle, but it’s THERE, I swear!
11. BENJAMIN MOORE IRON MOUNTAIN 2134-30
Iron Mountain is a popular choice for exteriors, both on siding and trim. However, it’s not like the other grays, as it has some interesting things going on – read all about it in Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain: Paint Color Review.
PEOPLE ALSO ASK…
WHAT’S BENJAMIN MOORE’S MOST POPULAR DARK GRAY PAINT COLOR?
Hands down, the most popular DARK gray from Benjamin Moore is Kendall Charcoal, followed by Chelsea Gray. Whether on cabinets, feature walls, doors, or exteriors, these two stormy (not cold) shades of gray satisfy various styles and tastes.
But do you want my HONEST OPINION? I know you do. If I choose a gray paint color like this for one of my Online Paint Color Consulting clients, I’m probably gunning for Sherwin Williams Classic French Gray instead. Why? It’s not as warm, AND it has less undertone.
IS DARK GRAY A GOOD COLOR FOR A HOME?
If you’re talking about the exterior, YES, dark grays are often well-suited to brick, stone, and various asphalt roofs. As for interiors, they’re more generally popular on accent walls and islands.
Personally, I LOVE the right room painted in a dark gray!
WHAT IS THE DARKEST SHADE OF GRAY PAINT?
If we’re looking at Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and BEHR, BEHR comes first with Cracked Pepper, a hybrid between dark gray and soft black.
As for Benjamin Moore, Iron Mountain is the darkest, but its warmth and undertones can have it flexing OUT of the gray range. For this reason, Kendall Charcoal is a more typical gray with a wicked depth. Some would say that Deep Space is the darkest gray, but with its strong blue hue, it’s too colorful to be a good gray (in my books).
WHAT COLOR IS REPLACING GRAY IN 2023 & 2024?
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