HomeThe Best Paint ColoursNeutral, Gray, Greige Cream and WhiteWhy is Sherwin Williams High Reflective White SO HARD TO GET???

Why is Sherwin Williams High Reflective White SO HARD TO GET???

Posted on December 29, 2021 by KylieMawdsley

The most popular HARD to get white paint colour 

When it comes to my Online Paint Colour Consulting, I have a few favourite paint colours that I refer to time and time again. Why? Because they work. However, there’s one particular white that’s a bone of contention between myself and the average paint store employee, and that colour is Sherwin Williams High Reflective White.

White laundry room with mud room built-in benchs, hooks, cubbies, white subway tile, gray tile floor. Sherwin Williams High Reflective White, Kylie M Interiors online paint color consultant

High Reflective White is one of the most WHITE white paint colours on the market, which is why I refer to it so often. Without the warm nod of Alabaster or cool wink of Extra White, High Reflective White keeps things simple.

So why is it so FREAKIN’ HARD TO GET?

The truth is, High Reflective White is a BASE, not a usable colour. This means that it’s a colour that’s used to make OTHER colours but doesn’t have enough meat on its bones to be a colour unto itself. And what this REALLY means is that High Reflective White isn’t meant to be an actual colour for your walls, trims, cabinets or exterior. Instead, it’s meant to be the BASE or FOUNDATION for another white you might choose.

The 5 WHITEST White Paint Colours

What will happen if you use the High Reflective White BASE on your walls?

High Reflective White doesn’t have enough tint or colourant in it to offer any HIDE. ‘Hide’ refers to how well a colour covers another colour. So, if you take a can of High Reflective White fresh off the shelf and slap it on your walls, you’ll be five coats deep and two bottles in before you realize it just isn’t covering, which inevitably leads to more coats…and more bottles.

Sherwin Williams High Reflective White and Magnolia Teak Cups island, white quartz countertop, whitewash wood floor. CLIENT PHOTO of Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Sooooo, why is it listed in the fan deck? Why is it offered as an option if it isn’t really an option?

Because it CAN be made. Oh yes, it can be made.

Whitewash wood shiplap ceiling, built ins, High Reflective White, Stonington gray. Kids toy storage in playroom, gray carpet. Kylie M Interiors edesign

HOW TO MAKE SHERWIN WILLIAMS HIGH REFLECTIVE WHITE (as told to me by Sherwin William’s employees)

1. Grab a gallon of High Reflective White (the base)

2. Top up the gallon with white tint, you know, the stuff that squirts out of the machine


And, of course, it will be the trained paint technician doing this, not you.

Now you have your SIMPLE white base, topped up with more white colourant, giving you a usable version of High Reflective White. The additional colourant gives your paint more HIDE and body, helping it cover your old colour better.

This next bit of advice comes from another trained Sherwin Williams employee…

BUY A HIGHER QUALITY PAINT. When it comes to paint, you really DO get what you pay for. And as it relates to whites, higher quality paint is going to COVER better. Think of it this way, would you rather spend $90 on one gallon of paint that covers your room or $120 (two less expensive gallons @ $60) as you needed to apply four to five coats to get the hide and coverage???

Romantic farmhouse style bedroom, Sherwin Williams High Reflective White board and batten, vaulted ceiling, chandelier. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consultant

And please note, this lack of hide isn’t unique to High Reflective White, it’s a common thread with many of the popular white paint colours. You often have to bump up in QUALITY and add those shots of white to get half-decent coverage (I also recommend two coats of primer to get a good headstart).

Remember, this issue is not unique to High Reflective White, in fact, MANY of the popular white paint colours don’t cover very well. 

Bathroom vanity cabinet High Reflective White, white countertop, subway tile accent feature wall. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consultant

FULL Paint Colour Review of Sherwin Williams High Reflective White

So, if your paint store has the High Reflective White base in stock (and is willing to make it), use the above advice to get better coverage and hide.

ANOTHER WAY TO MAKE SHERWIN WILLIAMS HIGH REFLECTIVE WHITE (again, as told to me by a Sherwin Williams employee)

If all else fails…

1. Ask the paint store tech to make Sherwin Williams Extra White (BTW, Extra White is ALSO a ‘base’ paint used to make other colours)

2. Ask them to top up the gallon with white tint, again, improving the coverage AND brightening it a stitch

Why ‘if all else fails‘? Well, PERSONALLY, adding white to a gallon of High Reflective White base makes sense, even though many paint store employees don’t like doing it (which is fair enough when they’ve run out of this base, which seems to be common). HOWEVER, this second option isn’t my fave and here’s why…

High Reflective White has an LRV of 93, making it pretty darn white. Extra White comes in at 86, making it a SOFT white. It would take an AWFUL LOT of white tint to increase its LRV by seven points. And while adding white tint/colourant will certainly brighten it, you could still be left with a ‘slightly less than white’ kinda white.

The 5 Types of White Paint Colours

Hardie Light Mist grey siding, board and batten, shakes, High Reflective White exterior trim. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy update blogger and consultant

Long story short, when it comes to High Reflective White, it’s a toss-up as to whether the paint store will make it for you. However, in my experience, if it’s the type of white you’re looking for, it’s DEFINITELY worth asking. And until they discontinue it as a colour option and replace it with something equally as bright (high LRV), I’m going to USE IT and ABUSE it because it’s a darn pretty and hugely versatile white paint colour.


If you’re having a hard time getting High Reflective White, check out…

  • Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. The difference between Chantilly Lace is that it’s a tiny bit softer than High Reflective White (read about it HERE)
  • BEHR Ultra Pure White. The difference between Ultra Pure White is that it’s a tiny bit WHITER and brighter than High Reflective White (read about it HERE)
  • Sherwin Williams Extra White. The difference between Extra White is that it’s a touch COOLER than High Reflective White (read about it HERE)


The Ultimate Guide to White Paint Colours

The 5 WHITEST White Paint Colours

3 Steps to Picking the Best White Paint Colour

The 3 Best Warm White Paint Colours

6 Questions to Ask Before Painting Your Cabinets WHITE

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature




  1. As a previous Sherwin employee and color consultant- High Reflective and Extra White are both “bases” used on their own or to create other hues as you so well described:) High Reflective is the only one that needs some bolstering to get coverage. Most stores should be very used to adding white tint to it as many contractors request this. The other option is to move to a better product like Duration or Emerald which have better coverage by design. I used Duration White Heron (high reflect base, VERY little tint) in my kitchen and got perfect coverage in one coat although two is always prescribed for best longevity, cleanability etc.
    P.S. The company has been plagued by shortages of bases this last year, my understanding is the freeze in Texas and trucking issues have been largely the cause. Staff is stressed and doing their best!
    You know your s**t girl, enjoy every post and learn some stuff too!

    1. Post

      Lori, I LOVE LOVE LOVE you for this comment, thank you! I’ve only heard from a few SW employees about this ‘being the way to do it’ and you confirming this makes me feel SO great. Good to know about Extra White too! Do you usually add a few jolts of white to its gallon as well to improve the coverage?

      I also love the advice to up the QUALITY of the paint, I’m going to update the post to reflect this – THANK YOU THANK YOU!

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