The most popular HARD to get white paint colour
When it comes to my Online Paint Colour Consulting, I have a few favorite paint colors that I refer to time and time again. Why? Because they work. However, there’s one particular white that’s not always the easiest to get, and that color is Sherwin Williams High Reflective White.
High Reflective White is one of the WHITEST white paint colors on the market, which is why I refer to it so often. Without the warm nod of Alabaster or softness of Pure White, High Reflective White keeps things simple.
So why is it so FREAKIN’ HARD TO GET?
A lot of paint store employees claim that it doesn’t cover well. Fair enough, it really DOESN’T cover well at all (it’s meant to be more of a base than a ‘color’). But the ‘terrible coverage’ point could be made for MANY white paint colors – they don’t have the same hide (ability to cover old colors and look solid), at least not compared to colors with a bit more meat on their bones (lower LRVs).
So with this being said, I KNOW that High Reflective White is a great option, and have the clients and personal experience to prove it. I’m just not sure why so many of my clients have a hard time getting it, saying that their paint store won’t make it for them/doesn’t carry it.
The 5 WHITEST White Paint Colors
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.
HOW TO GET SHERWIN WILLIAMS HIGH REFLECTIVE WHITE MADE
Thanks to the arrival of Sherwin Williams Emerald, you can NOW GET High Reflective White – and a version that covers reasonably well! However, in the Emerald line, it’s called Ultra White.
YES, High Reflective White & Ultra White are the same paint color!
The challenge with NOT getting it in Emerald (with the goal of not spending that much money on a gallon of paint) is that you won’t get High Reflective White.
If you go to the paint store and ask for High Reflective White, they’ll either say ‘no,’ as it’s a base and doesn’t cover well (being a base, it’s used to MAKE other colors – it’s the foundation). Or they’ll say, ‘SURE’ and give you a gallon of ‘doctored-up’ Extra White…which isn’t High Reflective White.
High Reflective White has an LRV of 93, making it pretty darn WHITE white. Extra White comes in at 86, making it a SOFT white. It seems it would take an AWFUL LOT of white tint to increase Extra White’s LRV by seven points. Will it brighten it and cut back the undertone found in Extra White? Sure, but will it have that gloriously high LRV? I doubt it.
Sherwin Williams Extra White
This being said, if you’re not super fussy, this could be good enough (insert me twitching here).
The 5 Types of White Paint Colors
In the great world of whites, this shift matters as Extra White is NOT a bright white. Check your gallon of paint. Sure, the sticker might say High Reflective White at the top, but in the bottom right corner, if you see the words ‘Extra White,’ you’ll know it’s not the real thing.
I was also told by paint store employees (many of them) that adding 4 ounces of white tint to a gallon of High Reflective White will improve the coverage. This is a contentious point as many painters and store employees will DISAGREE.
And I have one more great tip for you…
BUY A HIGHER-QUALITY PAINT
When it comes to paint, you DO get what you pay for. And as it relates to whites, higher quality paint will 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 same hide and coverage found in the pricier line???
And remember, this lack of hide isn’t unique to High Reflective White; it’s a common thread with many popular white paint colors. 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).
FULL Paint Color Review of Sherwin Williams High Reflective White
The 5 Types of White Paint Colors
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.
WHICH PAINT COLORS ARE SIMILAR TO HIGH REFLECTIVE WHITE?
If you’re having difficulty 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/softer than High Reflective White (read about it HERE)
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Originally written in 2021, updated completely in 2023
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!
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!
Hi, I want to use BM Advance paint in Satin on my interior doors and trim. So my question is how to I ask BM to make High Reflective White?
Thanks so much
Ahhhhh, WELLL, you can’t. To get HRW, you have to go to SW. There are some colours that can be colour matched ‘reasonably’ well, but not HRW as it’s SO white.
Ok thank you so much for letting me know. That’s such a bummer because of all the whites I have tested Chantilly, Simply White, Pure White, White Dove, Super White, Extra White, HRW looks the best (truest, without any grayness) best in my NE facing, low light house. I painted/sprayed my kitchen cabinets about 5 years ago with BM Advance in White Dove and really like how that paint worked and has held up. I know I know I should paint everything else in White Dove but it doesn’t look as good as the kitchen cabinets do, m which just happens to be the brightest room in the house. What to do now…lol?
How much exactly white do you add to the HRW? They are saying they go as low as 1/28th of an ounce… they want an amount? Please help! Thank you!
Hi Jennifer, I double-checked with my local store and while it can vary a bit depending on the type of paint you use, ‘generally speaking’ – 4 ounces, as long as it doesn’t overfill the gallon!
Ah yes, high reflective white. The most useless base in the painting world. It never covers and the expectations never meet up with reality. I for one cannot wait until its dropped from the shelf. Most of the time this garbage pops up its because the customer is trying to be a pain in the rear.
It’s rarely about the client being a pain; it’s because Sherwin Williams offers it as a paint color in their fan deck and offers it as a white option in their displays – customers are just choosing what they’re shown CAN be used by the company.
It’s more the company being a pain as, yes, they either don’t explain that it’s more of a BASE and doesn’t cover well, or they just give the client a doctored-up Extra White and claim that it’s High Reflective White (which it isn’t). This is way more on the paint company than the consumer. Now that they have Emerald, we can get HRW that covers (also known as Ultra White in Emerald.
Kylie read info concerning HRW. In Emerald which one….ultra white or extra white? I see both mentioned on your site & in this article. Please advise….
Hi Patsy, In Emerald it will be Ultra White 🙂