WHAT IS LRV & WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Partner Blog Post: LRV, Paint Colours & YOU
Have you ever painted your walls only to find they looked lighter or darker than you thought they would?
THAT, my friend, is LRV (Light Reflectance Value).
Before we get into the guts n’ the glory, let me say it took nine hours, three bottles, and 20+ years of experience to research and write this article. And I’m not even remotely scientifically inclined (more artsy-fartsy inclined). So, let’s grab a
bottle glass of wine and settle down for a bit of a read – just because I’m keeping it simple doesn’t mean I’m keeping it SHORT!
WHAT DOES LRV MEAN FOR PAINT COLORS?
Every paint color has an LRV number. This number is on a scale between 0 (which is black) and 100 (which is white). A paint color’s LRV number tells you how light or darker it is compared to pure black (LRV – 0) and pure white (LRV – 100).
In other words, a paint color’s LRV states its DEPTH (i.e., off-white/light/medium/dark).
You no longer have to ‘vaguely reference a paint colors depth’ – you can state its EXACT depth. Not only this, but by knowing a paint color’s exact depth, it’s easier to coordinate other colors with it, or find the PERFECT depth for your project.
Benjamin Moore White Dove (below) is a white paint color with an LRV of 83.16. This LRV means it reflects a LOT of light, as shown on the left side of this photo…
However, look at how muted it looks on the right side of the photo, where the walls receive indirect light only.
Colors need LIGHT to come to LIFE!
THE ACTUAL ‘USEABLE’ LRV SCALE (for us real people)
While the scale technically goes to 100, related to the useable paint world, white goes up to an LRV of 94 – that’s the whitest white available. And while the scale DOES go down to 0, in our useable paint world, mid-two’s are the lowest LRV/blackest colors available.
Benjamin Moore American White is an off-white gray that reflects a LOT of light.
Remember, you don’t need to memorize this. Just take the info that applies to the color/color RANGE you’re exploring, and use it to find your best shade!
These numbers will give you a good idea of the DEPTH of a color (how light or dark it is). The ranges below are approximate to a degree (approx three points or so). Regardless, the lines are blurry, as perception can play a HUGE part in how light or dark a paint color looks (or because I’ve had two glasses of wine).
2-10 = DARK PAINT COLOR
10-20 = MEDIUM-DARK PAINT COLOR
20-40 = MEDIUM-DEPTH PAINT COLOR
40-55 = LIGHT-MEDIUM COLOR
55-72 = LIGHT COLOR
73-81 = OFF-WHITE COLOR
82-94 = WHITE PAINT COLOR
Remember, you don’t need to MEMORIZE this information. Just use it as a guide for the specific colors you’re looking at.
WHERE DO YOU FIND A PAINT COLOR’S LRV NUMBER?
For how important LRV is to the average paint buyer, I’m surprised some paint companies haven’t made it EASIER to find it.
Here are the LRV locations of a few popular paint brands (or ask a store employee)…
- SHERWIN WILLIAMS LRVs: on the back of the fan deck or the back of color chips – the BEST place for it!
- BENJAMIN MOORE’S LRVs: on the Benjamin Moore website, on the specific color page
- FARROW & BALL’S LRVs: they don’t make it easy; you’ll just want to write customer service – and good luck with that
- VALSPAR’S LRVs: fan deck index
- KELLY MOORE’S LRVs: fan deck index
- BEHR’S LRVs: fan deck index
Here’s what it looks like on the back of the Sherwin William’s colour strip (the long row of colors in the fan deck OR on the small samples found in-store)…
And in the index of the Benjamin Moore fan deck…
Glug glug glug, I mean sip sip sip.
Now, let’s get into the actual LRV ranges. Again, not scientific, just a general reference.
WHITE PAINT COLORS & LRV
White paint colors have the highest LRV and reflect the most light. The range goes from 82-94 (knowing we don’t have access to whites above 94).
- White paint colors don’t just reflect LIGHT, they reflect the COLOR of the light being thrown at them. For example, if you have a large expanse of green grass outside your window that reflects on your wall, your wall can pick up some of this green hue.
- Just because a color is in the WHITE range doesn’t mean it won’t have undertones – every color has undertones.
Benjamin Moore Cloud White LRV 85.05 / Sherwin Williams Cascade Green LRV 43
For example, let’s say you’re trying to find the perfect white. You’re comparing several, but you can’t tell which one is lighter. All you need to do is look at their LRVs, and you’ll know EXACTLY which is the brightest white.
Eyeballing the whites in this next photo, the only one that’s OBVIOUSLY darker is the sample on the bottom…
However, let’s look at all of their LRVs to see where they stand…
- TOP: Sherwin Williams High Reflective White LRV 93
- 2ND DOWN: Benjamin Moore Super White LRV 87.36
- 3RD DOWN: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace LRV 90.04
- BOTTOM: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White LRV 82.68
The shift in these numbers might not seem HUGE, but on a large scale is where you see these LRVs come into play – when there’s more WALL space for the color to come to life.
WHERE ARE WHITE PAINT COLORS POPULAR?
- TRIMS & DOORS
- WHOLE HOMES (every room)
- WALLS (although this is a trend)
- EXTERIORS (again, another trend)
Benjamin Moore White Dove LRV 83.16 / Antique Pewter LRV 25.4
Is White Still Trendy on Walls, Cabinets & Exteriors?
OFF-WHITE PAINT COLORS & LRV
Off-white paint colors have LRVs between 73 and 81. The closer a paint color’s LRV gets to 82, the closer to white it gets.
For example, Sherwin William’s Creamy has an LRV of 81 – this LRV puts it on the EDGE of the white range, and what it really is can be open to perception! Creamy looks like a warm WHITE in this staircase, thanks to the gratuitous natural light (east-facing)…
However, notice how different Creamy looks down near the carpet/landing in the same staircase.
In the above photo, Creamy looks less like a warm white and more like an OFF-white (which it is), especially when you compare it to the trim.
Because it’s not given as much natural light to reflect.
WHERE ARE OFF-WHITE PAINT COLORS POPULAR?
- CABINETS (currently a trend, but be careful!
- WALLS (single room, every wall)
- WHOLE HOMES (every room)
Sherwin William’s Moderate White LRV 74 – a popular off-white, beige paint color
The 6 Best Off-White Paint Colors
The Best Off-White & Light Depth Paint Colors for Cabinets
LIGHT DEPTH PAINT COLORS & LRV
Light-depth paint colors have LRVs between 55 and 72. Many of today’s popular colors sit between 60-70, and again, whether they read as ‘light depth colors of off-whites’ can be open to perception AS WELL as how light or dark a room is.
- Even though light-depth paint colors have lower LRVs (compared to whites and off-whites), they can still COMPLETELY wash out with direct hits of natural light.
- The light-depth range is the most POPULAR for the average home – specifically, THIS more condensed range.
- In a poorly lit room, light colors can fall flat and drab and won’t come to life. You can supplement a bit with less neutral/more color, but you have to work at it.
- In a well-lit room, a color with a high LRV can wash out where it gets direct hits of light. Just remember, this changes a lot as the day progresses, and you have to accommodate the rest of the walls, too, which might be more shaded.
This next photo shows Benjamin Moore Collingwood 859, which has an LRV of 62.14. This LRV means it will reflect some light into your room, making an average room with average light look reasonably bright but still soft. For example, look from the far left of the photo to the middle right and see how Collingwood changes its tune…and tone!
Paint Colour Review: Benjamin Moore Collingwood
If you have a bright room and you partner it with a lighter color (usually 55+ is where you’ll start seeing the reflective value really kick into gear), you’re going to have a LOT of light bouncing around.
Well, not only are you giving your walls a lot of light to play with, you’ve chosen a paint colour that likes to REFLECT light as it has a higher LRV.
The higher the LRV of a paint color is, the more light it’s going to bounce back at you.
This next photo shows the same color as above, Benjamin Moore Collingwood, but this room has more moderate light…
WHERE ARE LIGHT-DEPTH PAINT COLORS POPULAR?
- WALLS (single room, every wall)
- ENTIRE HOMES (every room)
- CABINETS (currently a trend)
The 12 Best WHOLE HOME Gray & Greige Paint Colors
The 11 Best Warm Neutral Paint Colors That AREN’T BEIGE!
LIGHT-MEDIUM DEPTH PAINT COLORS & LRV
Many consultants jump from light to medium, but there’s a HUUUUGE gap in the middle of colors that don’t read as either!
- Light-medium depth paint colors have LRVs between 40-55. They’re darker than light-depth paint colors without the more noticeable heft of medium-depth paint colors.
- Paint colors in the light-medium range hold up a bit better in OVERLY bright rooms. They WILL look lighter where the light hits but won’t wash out as much as whites, off-whites, and light-depth paint colors.
- You’ll see more contrast with white trim using light-medium depth colors. This can be an important point for those who want to show off moldings.
As shown in this next photo, a light-medium depth color like Sherwin Williams Anew Gray offers a nice contrast with the right white trim color…
Light-medium depth paint colors are a GREAT range to start when looking at exterior colors. While you might go lighter or darker, this range is a good starting point, as shown AGAIN, with Sherwin Williams Anew Gray…
WHERE ARE LIGHT-MEDIUM DEPTH PAINT COLORS MOST POPULAR?
- WALLS (single room, every wall)
- SOME ‘WHOLE HOMES’ (every room)
- CABINETS (somewhat popular)
Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray: Paint Color Review
MEDIUM-DEPTH PAINT COLORS & LRV
Medium-depth paint colors have LRVs between 20-40. The lower the LRV is, the darker the color is.
Sherwin Williams Dovetail is shown on this next kitchen island (LRV 26) with Agreeable Gray on the walls (LRV 60)…
A paint color in the medium range, when given some light to PLAY with (like shown below), will lighten up SOME – remember, EVERY paint color has light reflectance. This also means that in a room without much natural light OR adequate artificial lighting, it may look a bit heavy as the LRV isn’t strong enough to grab the minimal light offered.
Kylie M E-Design and Online Color Consulting
- Medium-depth paint colors are great for overly bright rooms. ANY paint color will look lighter when light hits it, but the darker a color is, the more it will stand up to an overly bright space.
- This range is popular for feature walls and exteriors but can look amazing on ALL of the walls in a room!
- Paint colors with medium-range LRVs reflect a moderate but not obscene amount of light, especially in the middle of the range. So, while on a small scale, medium-depth colors can look a bit darkish, on a larger scale (wall), they can look a bit lighter if given a reasonable amount of light. AND REMEMBER, the quality of light changes throughout the day, so sample carefully and look at it on all walls in various lights.
- In a poorly lit room, medium-range LRVs can look flat and drab, especially neutral ones.
- 50+ is the range where the paint colors really start reflecting light into the room. The closer you get to 100, the more light the color will reflect.
- In a room with poor lighting, paint colors in the 50+ range will take ANY light they can and reflect it into the space but don’t expect any screamin’ glory. Often, it’s better to add a bit more COLOUR to help counteract the shade vs. going with a more standard neutral paint color.
Long story short – lighting matters.
Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray island LRV 23.33
WHERE ARE MEDIUM-DEPTH PAINT COLORS MOST POPULAR?
- FEATURE OR ACCENT WALLS
- WALLS (single room, every wall)
- CABINETS (somewhat popular)
- KITCHEN ISLANDS
How to Brighten a Dark Room – AND IT AIN’T WITH PAINT!
MEDIUM-DARK PAINT COLORS & LRV
Just as with light-medium depth paint colors, medium-dark paint colors are the ‘happy mediums’ – literally. Medium-dark colors are significantly darker than the average medium-depth paint color but don’t have the depth of traditional DARK paint colors.
Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray (shown with White Dove cabinets) is a medium-dark gray paint color. Notice how it looks more muted on the top portion of the wall but lightens up where the light hits.
Because even though its LRV is LOWER, it still reflects light. This means that when hit with light, a color like Amherst Gray will reflect some light back!
WHERE ARE MEDIUM-DARK PAINT COLORS MOST POPULAR?
- FEATURE OR ACCENT WALLS
- CABINETS (somewhat popular)
- KITCHEN ISLANDS
Benjamin Moore’s Best DARK Gray & Charcoal Paint Colors
Sherwin William’s Best DARK Greige & Taupe Paint Colors
DARK PAINT COLORS & LRV
Sherwin Williams Cyberspace (shown below) is pretty damn dark with an LRV of 6. In a WELL-lit space, this colour can look soft, stunning, and a bit lighter and more colorful as the undertones come up. However, in a POORLY lit room, it can look closer to black and loses some of its colour/hue.
- Paint colors with a lower LRV will reflect SOME, but not tons of light. If a color’s LRV is 10, it will absorb a lot of light and reflect a smaller amount into the room. If it’s 20, it will reflect more than 10, but still not much. If you want a dark color to look lighter, give it A LOT OF LIGHT.
- IN A BRIGHT ROOM, a darker paint colour will appear lighter, and you may notice the ‘color’ and undertones more. This is because you’re giving the paint color more light to reflect.
- IN A DARK ROOM, dark color won’t come to life as much and won’t reflect light (as it hasn’t been given any, and it has a low LRV to boot, double-whammy). In fact, dark colors can almost look blackish in dark rooms.
Compare the wall space on the far left to the far right. No light = no reflective value…
In this next photo, notice how Benjamin Moore Hale Navy (LRV 8.36) changes as the amount and quality of LIGHT change…
WHERE ARE DARK PAINT COLORS MOST POPULAR?
- FEATURE OR ACCENT WALLS
- KITCHEN ISLANDS
- FRONT DOORS (INSIDE & OUT)
Where Should You Do a FEATURE Wall & What COLOR Should it Be?
The 6 Best Paint Colors for Kitchen Islands & Bathroom Vanities
A SPACE WITH THREE TYPES OF NATURAL LIGHT
This next photo shows Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (LRV 65.77). Looking left to right, you’ll see three OBVIOUS shifts in depth as each wall space gets a different amount of light reflected onto it.
Read more: Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
The amount of light hitting the left side walls puts Gray Owl’s LRV of 65.77 to work as the light is reflected, making it look more like a bright off-white.
CENTER (BOOKCASE WALL)
This wall is getting a more average amount of natural light, in which Gray Owl looks more like a paint colour with an LRV of 65 should.
This is an extreme – a wall with almost no natural light on it. Gray Owl looks more like a medium-depth paint color in this low light.
A color needs LIGHT to come to LIFE!
This is why it is so important to look at your paint samples in ALLLL lights on ALLLL walls. By the way, if you’re getting paint samples, I highly recommend THIS vs. traditional sample pots.
A DARK ROOM WITH LOW LIGHT (EITHER NATURAL OR INTERIOR)
If you have a dark room, this means there isn’t a lot of light from outside or inside sources. So, even if you choose a colour with a high LRV, the lack of light will affect how bright that colour will look.
A light color in a bright room will look lighter than the SAME color in a DARK room – the bright room has more LIGHT for the color to play with.
WHAT’S THE BEST LRV FOR A DARK OR LOW-LIGHT ROOM?
Choosing a light paint colour may be a better choice for a dark room if you want to brighten it, but it will not save the day – you need actual LIGHT for the paint colour to play off of and reflect.
One way to add brightness to a dark room, along with LRV, is to choose a color with more chroma/color vs. a more standard neutral paint color.
This next photo shows a room painted in Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter (LRV 55.51). Notice there isn’t an abundance of natural or artificial light and how that affects the look of Revere Pewter…
In this NEXT photo, the bedroom is also painted in Revere Pewter…
Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
The above room has a good amount of natural light on the left side, making Revere Pewter look LIGHTER and the room brighter (the bathroom is Wickham Gray). On the right (entrance to the bathroom), there isn’t as much natural light, and you’ll see that Revere Pewter is a bit darker again.
Let’s look at an off-white like Benjamin Moore Classic Gray, a warm gray. With an LRV of 74.78, Classic Gray will reflect a considerable amount of light, therefore, lightening and brightening a space. Notice how it washes out COMPLETELY on the left side of the photo and softens up on the wall space behind the vase…
Paint Colour Review: Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
WILL NATURAL LIGHT AFFECT MY PAINT COLOR’S LRV?
Natural light won’t CHANGE your paint color’s LRV; it is what it is, but the more light you give a color, the more light it will REFLECT, especially if it has a higher LRV.
Colors with higher LRVs reflect MORE light; colors with lower LRVs reflect LESS light.
The less light in your room, the less light there will be to reflect. So, even if you pick a LIGHT colour with a HIGH LRV, if you don’t give it light to reflect, it won’t rise to the occasion, which goes back to one of my fave sayings (I have about 80)…
What does this mean?
It means that sometimes people pick a light paint color thinking its high LRV will save their dark room. And sure, the room will look brighter than it would if painted a dark color. But the reality is, you need LIGHT for a color to come to LIFE!
Because the actual SCIENCE of it is that you’re not reaaaally seeing the paint color that’s on the walls, you’re seeing the COLOR OF THE LIGHT THAT’S REFLECTED OFF THE WALLS (but that’s getting a lil deep for this meat n’ potatoes blog post).
PEOPLE ALSO ASK…
WHEN YOU LIGHTEN OR DARKEN A PAINT COLOR, DOES ITS LRV CHANGE?
HECK YES, it does – any change you make to a paint color will change its roots, and the LRV will go higher or lower, depending on how much you change the depth.
Read more right here… LRV, Paint Colours & YOU.
WHAT IS A GOOD LRV?
It depends on the surface you’re painting, as well as the look/contrast you’re looking for. Very GENERALLY SPEAKING…
- THE AVERAGE SINGLE ROOM: LRV 60-65
- FOR EVERY ROOM IN AN ENTIRE HOME (PAINTED 1 COLOR): 60-65
- KITCHEN CABINETS: LRV 82-93
- FEATURE WALL: ANYWHERE FROM 5-50, BUT 30 IS A GOOD AVERAGE
- EXTERIOR: STARTING AT APPROX. 50
- FRONT DOOR: LRV 10
Again, there can be LOTS of variation in the above numbers; these are just good places to start your color journey!
WHAT’S THE PERFECT LRV NUMBER OR RANGE?
What makes an LRV good or bad is subject to perception. For the AVERAGE room, an LRV of 62 is a great place to start – read more about this HERE.
If you want an LRV range, look at colors between 60-70.
IS A HIGHER OR LOWER LRV BETTER?
It’s all relative to the surface you’re painting and the room it’s in. For the average room, YES, a higher LRV is better, approx 60+. For kitchen cabinets, the white range (82+) is usually ideal.
However, if you’re talking about a feature wall, a higher LRV might not give you the contrast you’re looking for, in which case, you’ll bump down to the 30 range.
WHAT’S CONSIDERED A HIGH LRV?
The higher the LRV number is, the lighter the paint color is. Paint colors with LRVs of 74+ (off-white and white paint colors) are considered HIGH LRVs.
WHAT’S THE BEST LRV FOR A DARK ROOM?
Again, color needs LIGHT to come to life. Generally, colors with high LRVs of 74 are better for dark rooms, but even those won’t look great if you don’t give them some form of light.
The 7 Best Light Paint Colors for a Dark Room
So there you have it – LRV in a very big, fat nutshell.
What Matters the Most When Choosing Paint Colors?
How to Get the Perfect Color: LIGHTEN & DARKEN
How to Choose the Right Kelvins For Your Paint Color
Kylie M’s Ultimate Guide to Paint Colors & Their Undertones
The 5 Blog Posts You Need to Read BEFORE Choosing a Paint Color
Still not sure what colour to pick?
Check out my E-BOOKS and Online Colour Consulting Services!
Originally written in November 2017, updated 2022
Wow – even though I have NO NEED to know this (because I have you) I found this really helped me to understand why in the past I made some ‘not so great’ choices. Now that you are my ‘colour guru’ I am spared that agony of choosing right the first time…
That’s what I like to hear!
Kylie! My friend, it’s been a long time! I have to say, this article is everything. Explaining LRV is nearly impossible….honestly, after decades in the business, I still haven’t wrapped my brain around it, but this is THE ARTICLE to start that brain-wrapping process. I love your writing style and LITERALLY laughed out loud at “glug glug glug … I mean, sip sip sip”. You are the best of the best!!
JENNY, this is such an awesome comment – THANK YOU! Yes, I know LRV is kind of MIND-boggling, but it’s like once you get it, you never look at paint colours the same AGAIN! And I’m glad you think I’m funny, I tell my husband and kids that I’m funny all the time and they’re like ‘ermmm, no’.
Very helpful post! Thanks. It makes this so much clearer. I’m saving this article in a PDF for reference. 🙂
Perfect Lillea, I’m glad you found it helpful! I tried to give enough info without TOO much info, we all know how I love to blab 😉 Hope your home is coming together!
Great advice! I’m seriously considering Naval for our kitchen in the spring (currently I have pure white walls)
Oooo, I love Naval Mary Beth – DO IT!!! And send me photos 😉 I did my dining room in Sherwin Williams Dark Knight for a very short period of time (as I always get bored) and I loooooved it, even though it was deadly dark.
I am using Naval in the front and back wall of my staircase. My colors are navy, turquoise and lim green. I have tried dancing green, cucumber and aqueduct in my powder room and I don’t like any of them! I have agreeable gray in the main areas. I was thinking I wanted a lime green in there but the above colors are almost neon! There is no natural light in there. HELP!
Hi Melody, thank you for your question! While I’m happy to answer quick and generic questions, when it comes to questions readers have pertaining to their home, I do refer to my Online Consulting.
This is only because I receive dozens of questions from my readers everyday and just can’t answer them all AND keep up my business!
If this interests you, please check out my affordable Online Consulting – https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/
Thank you for your understanding and thanks for visiting my site!
Awesome post. I have always struggled with choosing a paint color. Actually, it is in my genes as my mother and sister have the same issue. It takes us four to eight quarts of samples to attempt to get the right color and still sometimes we have to live with the decision. The LRV factor will help make an informed choice and perhaps I can eliminate a test quart or two. What works at one’s house, may not work at another house due to LRV. Thanks, Kylie, for taking the time to do a long post with examples.
I’m so glad you found it helpful Jill! And just so you know, you can save TONS of money and have way less paint waste by taking your paint chip samples to H.Depot and having them colour match it into their lovely little $3.99 sample pots. Their colour matching isn’t perfect, but darned near close enough to get the idea!
Good luck 🙂
What color is on the cabinet in the Classic Gray picture? Thank you, Kate
Hi Kate, that’s Benjamin Moore MEtropolis 🙂
Excellent post Kylie! I love how you explain things in a no-nonsense way! Love your blog.
Thank you for this post, wonderful information that I needed to help me finally make the correct paint color choices. Unfortunately it has taken me about a dozen cans of paint, hours of labor and lets not mention the cost to figure out that not all paints, brushes, rollers etc are created equal.
I never knew about LVR and this article has been both fascinating and very helpful. We have just purchased a home and the entire interior is a bright white (I suspect close to 100 LVR, ha!). The main floor has a very large south facing window that catches lots of direct light and no shade at all. Ditto an airy entry and stairway. I plan on using warm gray but will be sure to check the LVR first!
Thanks for tbe “411”. I’m trying to pick a paint for my foyer and having a really tough time. I have made so many regrettable choices of the years :(. Then I have to go over them or worst live with it! ( imagine Timothy straw In a very dim powder room) ugh.
However I have a professional painter coming to do the foyer and I really want to get it right! I feel well armed now. Wish me luck because this color is for life. Lol
So if I am looking at lightening a color by 25%, does that increase the LRV by 25%?
Hi Kristin, good question! I’ve found that it’s REALLLLLY hard to find good info re: LRV on the web. So, I base a lot of my info on the info I can find plus personal experience. Basically the lighter a colour is, the higher the LRV is. So, if you were to lighten a colour by 25% the LRV will rise as well. As for the actual percentage, in my experience, 25% lifts it approx. 2-4 points. So if the LRV starts at 55, it might end up around 57/58. To see a more noticeable shift, 40% does the trick. 25% is a pretty subtle shift, 40% is more noticeable.
I hope that helps!
BRAVO, Kylie, BRAVO! Everyone needs to read this. I have spent so much timing staring at 100 “white paint
chips” while my husband laughs, “there all white!” No my fiend! And this gets to the bottom of my maddening search for just the correct color. Thank you from the depths of my heart! I’m about to march into SW and annoy someone with this information that is just enough to make me dangerous ????
Wahoo – just the type of email that I like to get! I’m glad you found it helpful and it’s SOOOO true and really they ARE all white – but they’re all different VERSIONS of it (enough to drive you mad, really…)
Does the sheen factor in with lrv? A satin vs egg shell vs a flat paint… A satin should reflect more right? Is there a way to factor this in?
Hi Sarah, that is a GREAT questions. I’d love to give you the smarty pants scientific answer, but I’m afraid there isn’t one. In my experience, yes, sheen will slightly affect LRV, I would say no more than a few points higher, but that can definitely make a difference!
Thanks Kylie. Very well explained. I have been agonising about paint colours for days and I have the whole interior of a house to paint. I’m saving this.
Hi Kylie –
I am glad I came across this blog article as it’s proving very helpful in selecting a wall paint color for our whole house remodel. I love the photos I’ve found online of interior walls painted Sherwin Williams Anew Gray. I intended to use this color for my walls and Eider White for the ceilings and kitchen cabinets. However, when we painted a sample on the wall, the Anew Gray seems a little too dark for the amount of light in the house.
I think this is in part because professional photographers have gotten really good at brightening up photos, which makes for a more beautiful photograph, but not necessarily for helping those of us trying to find the perfect color.
So, I’ve had SW make a custom blend of 75% Anew Gray (LRV 47) and 25% Eider White (LRV 73). Should I assume that the blend will produce a color with an LRV of about 53.5, or does the math not work quite like that? I think I like the blend, but I’m not sure that going from 47 to 53.5 is really that much different.
Thanks for the insight you’ve provided in this article and any you might be able to provide for my particular color concern.
Thank you Kylie! This is the single most helpful information I have ever read about paint! This explains why I’m not liking Accessible Beige (which I expected to love) in the rooms of my house with poor lighting. Even though it’s LRV is 58, I need a higher LRV! You just saved me a lot of stress and paint samples! Many thanks!!
Well that’s the type of note I like to get – good news! I’m actually working on another one to talk about LRV a bit more as I’ve had several of the same questions come up, so there’s definitely more work to be done on that topic!
Hi Kylie! Have you ever used Benjamin Moore’s Silver Chain? If so I’m wondering what your opinion is on that color. 🙂 Like, dislike, keep it moving?
I’ve touched on it with clients, but no one’s jumped on it yet. In some rooms, my clients find it too cold blueish toned whereas in other rooms it gets some green mixed in there. There are just SO many beautiful grays that I find a lot of my clients want grays with less undertones than Silver Chain… 🙂 I love it though!
Wow, thank you so much for such a detailed post Kylie! I have been painting various rooms in my house for so many years and while I knew about undertones and depth, this clearly explains why I had so many “oops” colors!! I am redoing my master bed and bath and this will be so helpful as I could never understand why it always looked so dark with a beige color. I love, love, love Sherwin Williams paints! I love their colors, how they go on walls and trim, and how I can wipe the dirt off of them when my grandson gets his hands on them!! I know my husband will thank you when I don’t have to spend money on 5 different sample paints that don’t look right! I am bookmarking your site, I know I’ll be referencing it for many future projects!!
Wahoo, that’s what I like to hear! Once you KNOW better you DO better! And there is always SOOOOO much to learn with paint colours 🙂
Love your blog. I have made so many mistakes with wall paint over the years resulting in a lot of repainting. The information on your site explains why I made those mistakes. The biggest one though is falling in love with a magazine photo. Too many variables to get “the” look in my own home. With your help I’ve found choosing colors that I like as opposed to what’s trendy and the difference in how lighting affects the actual color has saved me a lot of repainting. Keep up the good work!
Wow, what a lovely note to get – thank you! I’m so glad you found the info helpful, and now going forward you have some knowledge in your back pocket! And I know, magazines are so deceiving. Everything is so tweaked and edited to PERFECTION that it’s hard to apply to those of us in the real world!
I was feeling homesick after our move with not much natural light in our living room. The room was painted in tan and dark brown colors. I was looking for a paint that would brighten up my space and add a little color The SW BIG CHILL was everything and more. Can’t thank you enough for this post and shedding light on the matter 🙂
Hi Kylie! I have learned so much from your articles!! I do have a couple of questions though. If I want to get H. Depot or Lowes to match BM Gray Owl, will the LRV remain the same?? And what paint finish do you recommend for walls? Flat, Matte, Eggshell, Pearl?? So many choices!
Hi Ashleigh – yup, if they do the colour match perfectly the LRV will be the same! For walls, I’m a fan of eggshell for the durability. there are some ‘okay’ mattes out there, but generally they aren’t as durable/washable 😉
I WAS WONDERING WHAT THE WALL COLOR IN THE BEDROOM OF YOUR FIRST PHOTO?
YOUR ADVICE IS SO HELPFUL!
THANK YOU 🙂
Hi Nancy! I believe that was Benjamin Moore Mountain Air CC 636
Kylie – I just found your old post about LRV and it’s timeless! Thank you for explaining LRV in terms anyone can understand. I can’t wait to put my new-found knowledge to work…and drive myself even further into the insanity of finding THE PERFECT white for every room! lol. Seriously, thank you. 😉
Oooo Mary, that’s what I like to hear – thank you!
So very glad I found this article ! Picking paint for new construction and soooooo many choices, this will help me select better but is still overwhelming – lol, saving article. Didn’t even know there was a thing called LRV. Do you have a favorite Sherwin Gray Blue in medium/light LRV?
I have trim and cabinets that are SW Neutral Tan throughout the house. I am trying to select a wall color that would compliment the trim and not blend in with it. I live in Florida, near the beach, so we would like to keep the color light. I am considering the Canvas Tan, but also thinking of the Accessible Beige…but afraid the Accessible Beige may be too dark for the rooms. I appreciate any advice and thank you in advance.
Hi Julie, I do try to give as much complimentary info on my blog as I can, and if that doesn’t work it might be time for me to check out your home via my E-design, this way I can look at your exposure/flooring/decor, etc…, otherwise I’m just guessing! It’s affordable and fun!~ https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/
Hi I left a question twice, In May 2018, just before you left for vacation and I think after your vacation. I was wondering what the colours are on the last picture you have posted on this page. thanks,
Hi Karen, thank you for your patience! In the last photo with my ad on it, that is Revere Pewter, but I will note that Revere Pewter rarely looks like that (gray-blue). In the one above it, which might be the one you’re referring to (before the images with the colour names on them, but no actual room photos), that is SW Repose Gray – the one with the beautiful accent chair and tile fireplace. You can see more of that room here…well hot damn, I just realized that while I’ve posted independent photos of this home, I didn’t do a blog post, wow! I’m going to do that…I’m also going to send you an email in the meantime with some photos, so you don’t have to wait!
Wait, I just realized that I do have a blog post on it! I have over 250 articles, so it’s easy for me to forget 😉 Here’s the link! https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/a-contemporary-and-comfortable-new-home-in-nanaimo/
I just moved into a manufactured home and of course, it’s full of dark wood paneling. Way too much wood, and too dark for me. One kitchen wall was a dark red, with all the dark cabinets and a dark brown and yellow floor that saw better days 20 years ago. After choosing a white marble with grey streaks for the floor, I chose Behr’s Marquis Sea Ice in a semi-gloss for the walls.. An 18″ square of Periwinkle chalkboard paint for quick notes and Hills of Ireland (also Behr and semi-gloss), for the mouldings, which are a very small yet effective contrast. After reading your article, I understand how the Sea Ice works, and why the green works as a trim, but would not work here as a wall. I like to understand things, so thank you very much for the information. Now I’m going to be checking every paint chip and can for LRV’s. Very nicely written and enjoyable to read.
Hi Gillian, I’m so glad you found the info helpful, come back anytime!
I have been laboring over a new paint color decision for our living room, which lacks natural light. Six sample paint swatches and two weeks later I find your blog and youtube videos…mind blown! I’m now looking at colors with a LRV of 60+ , no longer testing paint swatches on the actual wall itself, and don’t feel totally clueless. And if I don’t figure it out soon, I’ll be hiring you for color recommendations. Thanks so much for the great content!
I am still confused. North facing room, big windows but shaded light by pine trees. What’s the best Lrv for my rooms? Thanks
Thank you! This really helped us decide between a few colors that we were in between for some gray shades.
This is great information. I have been struggling to find a color for my staircase. It’s a three floor walk up with no windows. Do you have any advice on what colors can ai use. Is grey too dark.
This is great info! I have a question though. I have Light French Gray in my master. The LRV is 53. My thought is to have the same tone through the house, but a little lighter. If I went with LFG but at 85%, would that make its LRV 15% brighter? I’d love some advice! Thanks!
I realize this post is older but find it fascinating! I would love to know if you have a suggestion for a very light gray for a basement room ? There will be zero natural light unfortunately in this section. Thanks!
Love this article! I was trying to check out the new paint companies Clare Paint and Backdrop. Clare Paint readily displays their LRV values whereas I had to message Backdrop’s customer service to attempt to get this information. Backdrop stated that they “don’t disclose their color information” – can you believe it? ?
Anyways, have you considered reviewing colors from these companies? They are eco friendly, but are a little pricey.
Interesting! I’ve never heard of them, but would be totally turned off using a company that wouldn’t disclose something as straightforward as LRV! Seems strange to me… 🙂
Great post, very informative and I’ve read it through at least three times but I cannot find out if the LRV will change with the quality of the paint that is the same color. For example does Behr Roman Plaster have the same LRV in Premium Plus as it does in Marquee?
Hi Lorri! Yes, you should get the SAME LRV – same colour same LRV, but you might notice a slight shift in sheen as this can shift in a brand between their different levels of paint. This shift in sheen can make a colour look slightly lighter/darker :).
So, kind of a side question that I thought LRV might address, but doesn’t (now that I’ve read your article)…So, LRV addresses the differences between lights and darks. What is the technical difference between a neutral (with a color undertone) and a color with a (gray or whatever undertone)?
Oh Greer, I LOVE YOU – no one has ever asked that before! I’m actually writing a course right now and talk about this exact topic in it. The short story is that there IS no definitive line and is VERY OPEN to perception, which is why it’s SO HARD! For example, a lot of people look at a colour like BM Puritan Gray and see it as ‘gray with undertones’, but I’ve had clients find it not gray enough and see too much blue-green. For me, it’s about what’s the OVERTONE or MASS COLOUR – the one you automatically see first when you look at the walls. Again, open to perception, but if you just SEE BLUE, then it’s probably too colourful for you. However, if it could easily pass as gray, then you might be closer to the ‘gray with undertones range’.
Does that help AT ALL???? Any thoughts you have just holler as it just makes me think harder!
Hi Kylie. I’m trying to choose between BM Balboa Mist (LRV 67) and Collingwood (LRV 62). How much of a difference will 5 points make in a 2 story foyer where the 2nd story does not have a lot of natural light?
Well, you will notice a shift between the two! For a LOWER light area, I would lean towards Balboa because it is that bit lighter and softer :).
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Do you have a blog that lists the Benjamin Moore colors with a LRV of your magic number “62”? Or a list of colors within the magic range?
Ooooo, say no, that’s a GREAT idea!
Off the top, BM Collingwood, SW Big Chill, SW On the Rocks, SW Agreeable Gray – just a few to get you started!
Hey Kylie! So glad i stumbled on your post what PERFECT timing OMG! I have a new build i just moved into with very low grade, stark white awful paint that does nothing for my house and honestly it’s so ugly it might just be primer. It’s dreadful and not full of life. Though i personaly love the white walls i have been SO torn between Chantilly Lace & Simply white to repaint it. Is there one you prefer more? I would like to keep the white but the white they used is all wrong and makes it feel very stale vs cozy plus i have kids so i want nice, cozy feel that would bring out that beachy look we desire with all our wood tones. “Most” rooms get natural light throughout the day as the sun changes so i am really stuck on which color would make it feel like home vs a builder grade home.
Also….i am planning on painting the exterior of my house white as i love the beach cottage looks there too but i am wondering if the LRV matters on the exterior like it does the interior? Can you tell me if this rule still applies.
I was looking at either Pure White or Snowbound (this will be going over a taupe color house) but after reading your post i am not sure if the LRV matters for outdoors also so it’s not blinding vs beautiful. I have a South facing home and would love a little help before i make a HUGE expensive mistake. Help please! Thank you so much 😊
Hey Shawna, I can’t answer ALL of your questions, but Chantilly ‘can’ be a bit ‘white white’ and Simply White can come up a touch yellow – both have their place, but when I’m looking at a WHOLE HOME white, it’s often SW Pure White that comes up as it often suits more interior hard finishes (ie. countertop).
As for the exterior, whites tend to look that BIT whiter, depending on how MUCH light you get, but generally – they’re pretty white. A lot of my clients are shifting to a slightly softer look, like BM White Dove (even Pure White is a bit soft too, creating a nice look). It really all depends on the AMOUNT of light you get as even an off-white could look QUITE BRIGHT!
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I just bought my first home and stumbled across your blog while researching white paint options. I’ve been doing a deep dive in to your posts and it’s been so helpful. I would love know what the paint colors are from the thumbnail image on this post.
Also do you have any posts about coordinating paints colors with exotic hardwood floors?
Hello Kylie, this article on LRV is fantastic!! I have been a painting contractor for 40 years. I study paint. It’s composition, what the included different ingredients do & how they react to each other. I am just starting to study LRVs and SRI (solar reflective Index) and you have done LRVs very thoroughly and explained it in layman’s terms (maybe the sip,🍷 sip,🍷 gulp 🍾helped in your writing ✍️.)
Thank you for your time & work!
Jeff, thank you so much for this! I’m SO not scientifically-minded, yet SUPER passionate about paint – THANK YOU!
Hi Kylie! I’m experiencing the vast array of whites for the first time! Yikes! I had kitchen cabinets painted in Benjamin Moore “Calm-OC22” LRV of 77. Thinking of selecting another white on the walls throughout the living room, dining area and kitchen. I’m in a small condo, southern exposure, with very little light. I have a medium brown maple floor & painted baseboards in Calm. I love the serenity and elegance of taupe. Don’t know what direction to go in, if you can offer a tip. Thank you very much. I learn a lot from you! — Jean
Hi Jean! Calm is actually an off-white with a reasonable viole tundertone, which can make it tricky! Sometimes the best thing to do is the same color on the walls/trims, I would GREATLY HESITATE to go outside of that. I suppose you could look at BM Chantilly lace for the walls, but it coudl enhance the violet in Calm :).