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Benjamin Moore: 10 Best DARK Gray (Charcoal) Paint Colors

Posted on December 7, 2021 by KylieMawdsley

What are the most POPULAR dark gray paint colours?

When it comes to the best DARK gray paint colours, 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 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.

Best dark gray paint colour on bathroom vanity cabinet, Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray. Kylie M Interiors online paint color consultant

EVERY GRAY HAS UNDERTONES

For those of you hoping for the EVER-ELUSIVE perfectly neutral gray, I hate to pop your paint parachute, but grays have undertones. And not just gray paint colours, but gray SURFACES too. That gray tile that looks pretty darn neutral? Yup. Your sectional sofa that’s the most perfect dark charcoal? You bet your booty it does. Even your brand new white quartz countertop with gray veining – it too has undertones. Once you figure out the undertones of your interior finishes, it will be easier to pick the best paint colour to go with them (if your room is a blank slate, then focus more on the exposure of your room).

As for the hues you can expect to see, warm gray paint colours will have either violet or green undertones whereas cool gray paint colours lean into BLUE, violet or green (often a blend).

Benjamin Moore Trout Gray small powder room, rustic wood feature wall, shiplap in gray wash stain. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy online paint colour consultant

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!

Now, if you’ve been reading up on the darker end of things, you might have come across my blog post on Sherwin Williams’s best DARK gray paint colours, as well as Benjamin Moore’s best DARK greige and taupe paint colours. Greige and taupe paint colours are tough to hit as the undertones often come up more than you want, leaving you with more than just ‘neutral-looking’ walls. As for gray paint colours, same thing. While it’s easier to get a somewhat neutral look in the lighter end of things, as you go darker, these undertones can rise up with a vengeance – a pretty vengeance though.

But regardless of the undertone, compared to Sherwin William’s selection, Benjamin Moore kicks some serious badonkadonk, so let’s get started.

Benjamin Moores best dark grey charcoal paint colours, Chelsea Gray, Trout Gray and more. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy online paint color consultant

BTW, You’ll find that ALL of these colours 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 of 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.

Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray in dining room with white wainscoting and red accents. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint colour consulting expert. Client photo

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 contrast with the black laminate countertops, letting the white subway tile and cabinets do the contrasting…

Budget friendly kitchen with painted cabinets Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, white subway tile and black laminate countertops. Kylie M Interiors Online Color Consulting and E-design

FULL PAINT COLOUR REVIEW: Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray

2. BENJAMIN MOORE STEEL WOOL 2121-20

Going in the OPPOSITE direction to Chelsea Gray (as it relates to undertones) is Steel Wool. Whereas Chelsea Gray has a green undertone and a tiny wink o’ warmth, Steel Wool is a COOL gray paint colour with a violet-blue undertone.

Large wood farmhouse country sign. Dining Room. Upholstered bench, wicker chairs. Benjamin Moore Steel Wool. Kylie M E-design, colour consultant

The great thing about Steel Wool is its flexibility, nodding at both the blue and the violet end of things without 100% commitment to either. And it does all of this while still looking more or less ‘gray’, as shown in this next entryway photo…

Entryway, Kylie M E-design, online color consultant. Benjamin Moore Steel Wool, Creamy, black interior front door, red and navy accents

The trim colour in the above photo is Benjamin Moore Cloud White, a white with a wink of warmth to offset the cool approach of Steel Wool.

FULL Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore 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).

DIY Board and batten, White Dove and Benjamin Moore Graystone and door painted Cheating Heart. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting and blog advice

Shown with Benjamin Moore White Dove & Cheating Heart

But compared to the slightly warmer greige end of things, Graystone holds itself AMAZINGLY well as it relates to undertones. While it definitely 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 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 colour is perceived.

Cherry or fir front door with white trim, Benjamin Moore Graystone paint color on walls. Kylie M

The Best Paint Colors for the INSIDE of Your Front Door

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 many times I refer this colour to my Online Colour Consulting clients.

Fireplace idea marble surround and mantle painted Benjamin Moore Gray dark oak flooring, gray paint color on walls. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color consultant,

With an LRV of ALMOST 10, it’s definitely 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.

In this next photo, while the wood bar DESPERATELY needs to be painted the same colour as the mantel, let’s focus on how Gray grabs the darker stone in the fireplace tile…

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.  

FULL Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10

Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…

Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…

  • samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
  • at $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needed for traditional paint sampling
  • if you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room

Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE

5. BENJAMIN MOORE METROPOLIS CC-546

WARM GRAY – VIOLET UNDERTONE

Metropolis is hands-down, one of the BEST warm gray paint colors on the market. Some warm grays lean so far that they’re mistaken for taupe, 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 of the granite countertops from the early 2000s.

Caesarstone bathroom countertop Bianco Drift with gray and greige tones. Maple vanity painted Benjamin Moore Metropolis. Kylie M Interiors E-design and Color Consulting

Metropolis has a violet undertone, and while it’s not shy about it, it’s also not overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination.

FULL Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Metropolis

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 a bit 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…

Painted maple, cherry wood kitchen cabinets in Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, Amherst Gray, green granite. Black appliances. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray and similar to Albscent. Kylie M Interiors E-design

Really, when it comes to Chelsea Gray, Amherst Gray and Kendall Charcoal, just ASSUME you’ll see green.

FULL Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray

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.

Blue Paint Colours: The 2 Types & Where They Work Best

Benjamin Moore Trout Gray small powder room, rustic wood feature wall, shiplap in gray wash stain. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy online paint colour consultant

Trout Gray has an LRV of almost 15, making it a WICKED gorgeous option for feature walls, built-ins, cabinets or ENTIRE ROOMS!

FULL Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Trout Gray

Want a bit more COLOR? Check out Benjamin Moore Wolf Gray, she’s a beauty!

Best dark gray charcoal paint colour with undertones. Benjamin Moore Wolf Gray. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, virtual online paint colour consulting and diy decor blog

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 very 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 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 very eyes! Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic as the shift is subtle, but it’s THERE, I swear! 

And lastly, of the WHOLE BUNCH…

What’s the MOST POPULAR Dark Gray Paint Color from Benjamin Moore?

Hands-down, the most popular DARK gray from Benjamin Moore is Chelsea Gray. Whether it’s on cabinets, feature walls, doors or exteriors, Chelsea Gray is the one gray that hits a wide variety of styles and tastes.

Double vanity in bathroom painted Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, hexagon mosaic tile backsplash, Calacatta Marble countertop by Formica. Design by Kylie M Interiors

But do you want my HONEST OPINION? I know you do. If I’m choosing 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 ALSO has less undertone.

READ MORE

Are Gray Paint Colours Still Trendy on Walls, Cabinets & Exteriors?

The Best DARK Greige & Taupe Paint Colours – Benjamin Moore

The 12 Best Whole Home Gray & Greige Paint Colors

The Best Front Door Paint Colors (Exterior)

The Best Darker Paint Colors for Cabinets & Vanities

NEED HELP?

CHECK OUT MY ONLINE PAINT COLOR CONSULTING, COURSES & E-BOOKS

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Chat soon,

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Comments

  1. Kylie! Your reviews & color breakdowns are truly the best of the best. Would you ever consider doing a review of your favorite black & soft black paint colors.. pretty please?

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  2. Random question – why did you stop mentioning Hello Paint? It’s cheaper for Canadians than Samplize, especially when you count the shipping. I used Hello Paint in the spring and thought it was great. Did you find they no good?

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      Author

      Hi Cassie (also my daughter’s name ;))! I LOOOOVE HELLO PAINT, they’re AWESOME! But funny enough, the majority of my readers (like 95%) are in the US which is where Samplize is. I include Hello Paint & Samplize in my e-design consults, but in my blog posts I try to keep it simple with just Samplize.

      Happy holidays! Kylie

      1. As another Canadian, I always appreciate it when bloggers point out Canadian alternatives!
        But this was a great blog post, thanks!
        -Sara

  3. Hi Kylie! I’m really enjoying your blog, and wondered if you could help me. I know you’ve talked about paint in the context of whether a room faces east, west, etc. I have a home office that has south and east facing windows; the south window has a neighboring house not too far away, and the east window has nothing really blocking it. The tone of the room is pretty warm. I’m wondering what sort of colors I should aim for? If I pick a cool color, is that okay because it’ll still look a little warmer? Or should I stick with warm? I do really want a BRIGHT, cheerful room that looks that way as much of the time as possible, even at night. I’m thinking some off-the-wall color combos. But then again, maybe I’ll do a warm white and super colorful trim? What do you think? Any input is appreciated. Thanks!

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      Hi April, YES, a cool colour can be a great way to balance out a room that has a good visual warmth to it – definitely! BUT, once the sun goes down, it still needs to be the type of paint colour you love to live in. Have you checked out my blog posts that are specific to exposures, ie. the south-facing exposure post?

      1. Yes, I did, thanks! However, the information was a tiny bit confusing because one of your pages said to focus on the eastern exposure, and the other southern–but I think the difference being specified was that if one window was slightly blocked by anything, focus on the other as the primary exposure? Is that right?

        I deal with a lot of fatigue, and am also a night owl (ironically), so I’d like a nice bright color scheme to keep me feeling stimulated, since this is for my home office. I wanted to think it over and get a more concrete idea on what exactly I want, hence the delay in responding to you again, apologies! But, now I’m thinking to do two walls in Benjamin Moore’s Just Peachy (a peach that’s pink enough so that when it warms up hopefully it won’t look too yellow?), and the other two walls in either BM’s Rose Parade or Hot Lips. What do you think? I do wonder if the Rose Parade might turn out looking too orangey?

        Thanks for putting up with my rambling! haha!

      2. Also, I should specify: I know this color scheme idea is sort of *a lot*, (lol!)but I want to go all-out and embrace a boho look. My decor would continue in that vein. I did think about doing a soft white for the walls and just stick to super colorful moldings, but I have floaters in my vision; when I look at a white wall, they’re all I can see and it’s horribly distracting.

  4. I want to paint a powder room Coventry grey with a darker board and batten feature wall but I’m confused. I want this feature wall to be darker. This room has no windows and doesn’t even get indirect light from the hallway. Help!

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      Hmmmm, Coventry Gray is already a slight statement colour in a dark room. Have you considered doing white walls with Coventry Gray on the board and batten or a different DARKER colour on the board and batten with the white walls??

  5. Kylie

    Love this very much.

    Great data.

    I have at least 50 more Gray colors in front of me, so hard to pick a color.

    I’m having a professional painter coming in to do my foyer and stairs leading up and hallway.
    And master bedroom.

    What is your opinion about the B/M Wolf Gray on the walls and white wainscoting and molding?

    What is your opinion about the B/M Oxford Gray on the walls and white wainscoting and molding?

    Thank your Stephen Beyer

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      Hi Stephen, I had Wolf Gray in the lower family room area of our last home and LOVED it. It does have a reasonably strong violet-blue to it though, so make sure you’re okay with this. Oxford Gray is equally as striking, but more much more colourful, leaning that bit further away from gray, so as long as that’s the LOOK you want, you should be good! Look up BM Steel Wool on my website though, see how that seems to you…

  6. Kylie,

    Thanks for your professional knowledge and incite.
    This is so hard.
    The Steel wool is nice as well.
    My entry foyer lower wall is done with wainscoting in white and follows up the stairs to second floor and is also painted white.
    I thought a darker side gray paint would make a statement but Im not sure what gray to use to make it pop to give it a rich, deep, luxurious look and feel.
    I have oxford gray, wolf gray, black pepper and kendall charcoal paint samples to apply to the walls but I have not done so just yet. What’s the best way to put these samples on the wall and how big should I make each test site. I’m leary putting these paint sample colors on the wall since they are all dark.
    My dinning room is just off of the foyer and that is done in the historical BM Whipple blue with white wainscoting and that look awesome.
    I like using the BM historical colors. Do I have to transition the flow from the D/R to the Foyer area?
    I also saw a color BM Luxe on the internet with white wainscoting and it looked great.
    I really dont want to use a light gray on the upper walls since I think with the white wainscoting it would look washed out.
    Why is this so hard?
    Any ideas from your wonderful mind.

    Help Stephen

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