Two Top Gray Paint Colours: Review and Compare!
Are you on a search for the elusive ‘perfect gray’? And what IS the perfect gray? Is it cool or is it warm? Does it have subtle undertones, is it light, is it dark, is it…DRIVING YOU MAD!!!?
Well, if you are on the internet looking for the best gray paint colour ideas, that is likely the case and I’m glad you found me before hysteria set in. Today, we’re going to focus on two of my favourite gray paint colours, but first, let’s take a deep breath, a
chug graceful sip of wine and talk about gray…
There are 2 types of grays:
1. Warm grays
Grays that have a bit of brown in them (no, not greiges – just warm grays for now).
Classic Gray is a popular warm gray
2. Cool grays
Grays that DON’T have brown in them. However, JUST because they don’t contain brown, doesn’t mean you’re left with THE perfect gray. What you’re left with is a gray…with undertones – dun dun dun (dramatic sound).
Network Gray – a popular cool gray by Sherwin Williams
Undertones are those sneaky colours that are hiding in your paint colour. They’re the colours that don’t jump out when you first look at the paint chip but slap you upside the face once you’ve gone to the effort of painting your entire room, only to realize your walls look blue/pink/green/fugly (insert twitching here).
Read more: Gray – The 3 Undertones You HAVE to Consider
Okay, maybe undertones aren’t always THAT obvious, but you do need to realize that grays have undertones. That’s just the way it is, so you need to figure out WHICH undertones you can live with.
The 3 Undertones of a Cool Gray Paint Colour
1. Purple Undertones
Purple is one of the more common undertones in gray. We also need to remember that there are warm purples (with red in them) and cool purples (with blue in them). Cool purples are more likely to flash purple-blue. And no, the madness never stops.
2. Blue Undertones
Coming in a hot (or cold) second would be blue. Blue undertones often pop up in gray but can be the most challenging to peg down. Why? Well, there are warmer looking blues that can lean slightly blue-green. They are STILL cool colours, but can appear warmer than their opposite, which is blue-purple. Blue-purple is a more traditional cool gray undertone and comes off looking cooler than blue-green.
3. Green Undertones
You don’t see this fellow so often. This is because many greens are slightly warm toned and this warm tone starts leading us into the warm gray or greige end of things. So, while there are SOME cool grays with a green undertone, it’s less common.
Read more: Gray – The 3 Undertones You HAVE to Consider
So, when choosing a gray you aren’t just choosing a gray, you are choosing an ‘undertone/colour’ and hopefully, these next paint colours will help you make your final choice!
Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray HC 170
Stonington Gray is a soft, stormy looking gray. Why do I say stormy? Well, some consultants like to focus on the science of colour (which can be mildly mind-boggling – to put it lightly, but damn they’re good at it), while I like to keep things pretty meat n’ potatoes with how you can expect a colour to look.
A stormy gray is maybe not as fresh and clean looking as a gray with blue or blue/green in it. It has a subtle, low-key look and can be a great backdrop for artwork as shown below. And while Stonington Gray does have a slight blue undertone, it RARELY shows up to the party in any kind of obvious (or even very subtle) way.
A bit more about Stonington Gray
- It can pick up a bit of a cool blue undertone (you can see a bit more of it in the bottom photo)
- Stonington Gray has an LRV of 59. Not super bright, but definitely an LRV that will reflect some light back into a room
- I HAVE seen Stonington Gray pick up THE tiniest fraction of green, but I have to force it. This is more in comparison to a more cool purple base blue and isn’t something you should expect to see on your walls unless you have it up against products that have a blue-purple undertone
Read more: Using LRV to Pick the Perfect Paint Colour
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 needing 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
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl 2137-60
Gray Owl is definitely one of the most POPULAR gray paint colours, coming in a hot second to Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. Gray Owl is a gray with a green undertone. The funny thing is, that it’s often called a warm gray. And sure, it’s warmer than more traditional cool grays, but on your walls, you can expect it to look cool. The tricky thing is, Gray Owl likes to go blue…a lot. And while its roots suggest that green would be dominant, you may find this colour is a bit of a chameleon as it bounces in between the two undertones, all the while maintaining its cool gray look (meaning the undertones are generally passive).
See more of this Gray Owl inspired project here
Seriously, look at the above photo to see how the undertones can shift – compare the three layers of wall to each other…
- Far-left wall: Cool, fresh, almost blue undertone
- Center narrow wall space: Pretty ‘gray’
- Right side gallery wall: Subtle blue/green undertone
A bit more about Gray Owl…
- It has an LRV of 65, so it will reflect more light back into a room, making it appear brighter, but won’t save a dark room
Now Gray Owl and Stonington Gray are obviously BOTH grays, so what makes them different?
The LRV of Gray Owl vs Stonington Gray
A great place to start when deciding between colours is with LRV. LRV will more or less let you know how light/dark a colour will look on the wall (read much more about LRV here it’s vital).
With an LRV of 59, Stonington Gray is a light, but not TERRIBLY light and bright paint colour. I find this adds to the slightly more stormy look of it.
(and yes, that IS the same clock as my entryway!)
At 65, Gray Owl is undoubtedly a lighter colour and will reflect decent light back into your room. LRV isn’t an exact art, but I would say that Gray Owl is about one tone lighter than Stonington Gray. If you were to lighten Stonington Gray by approx. 25%, you will get closer to Gray Owl (but would probably need to go to 40% to make it almost the same).
The Undertones of Gray Owl vs Stonington Gray
Gray Owls roots suggest that it should commit to a green undertone, however, in my experience, here’s what I’ve seen:
- Approx. 50% of the time it looks ‘gray’ with very little undertone
- Approx. 40% of the time it flashes a blue undertone
- Approx. 10% it picks up a green-blue undertone
Stonington Gray has a slightly stronger stormy blue undertone. And while it does have a tiny (like minuscule) touch of green in it, it’s less inclined to show up to the party. The slightly soft and stormy approach of Stonington Gray really means it isn’t an icy colour, it’s more earth-toned/soft looking.
Click here or on the above image to see my fun packages!
The ‘Look’ of Gray Owl vs the ‘Look’ of Stonington Gray
Gray Owl and Stonington are both gray paint colours, but they can be used quite differently.
- When my Online Consulting clients are looking for a beachy vibe, I’m more likely to suggest Gray Owl than Stonington Gray
- While Stonington Gray is soft and subtle, it doesn’t come across quite as beachy fresh as Gray Owl. I also find that my clients often enjoy the chameleon-like undertones of Gray Owl as they work well with the ‘beach glass’ look.
- When my clients are preferring an earthy, soft, subtle gray, Stonington Gray is always a top contender
- Stonington Gray is a nice choice for more modern, contemporary interiors
- Both colours are flexible enough to work with the popular ‘modern farmhouse’ look as well as transitional styles
Curious about which gray is best for you and your home?
Check out my Online Color Consulting services!