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How to Select the Perfect White Paint for Your Home

january 2, 2023

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This question comes up all the time so today we are going to start out with the basics, share our tips on how to select the perfect white for your home and a few of our tried-and-true favorite white paint colors.

While selecting a white paint might not seem like a hard decision at first, this can be a very overwhelming when you start to look at all the options available. White paint comes in a variety of hues that range from pure, plain, warm and cool.



Most of the time when our clients refer to a pure white, they are looking for a plain white. Plain white is more approachable than pure white with the same benefits and there are endless options to choose from. The term pure white means that no color has been added to the paint. There are less options for pure whites as these are typically the manufacturers base color. The base paint is what they use to create any color they have available in their line and therefore have less undertones (added color).

The reason clients are typically asking for a pure or plain white is to avoid unwanted undertones. I am sure you have walked into a space and thought is that wall painted light pink, alternatively light blue. Our tips will help you avoid those mistakes and guide you through the process we use to determine the perfect white paint. 



Pure or Plain whites work great with modern, traditional, rustic, and eclectic styles. They are easy to match with multiple accent colors and make a bold statement when using a contrasting color in the room. If your room is full of white furniture be mindful it can do the opposite to these pieces and make them look “dirty” or feel beige. These whites have the least amount of undertone, but they can still pick up undertones from interior and exterior surroundings. This is because white paint is highly reflective and bounces off its surroundings, this is also why rooms appear larger when painted white.  The Light Reflective Value (LRV) quantifies how much light the paint color reflects.  The scale is from 0 (black) - 100 (pure white), although there are no paint colors that have a LRV of 100.

Warm whites have yellow or red undertones which lean cozy, organic and traditional. They pair great with natural materials such as wood, stone, mixed metals, leathers, etc. They are sometimes needed to offset cool lighting.

Cool whites have blue, grey or green undertones which lean fresh and modern. Depending on the design of the room they can create a traditional look as well. They are sometimes needed to offset warm lighting and pair well with cool colors.



If you already have a few swatches or paint cards at home and are wondering how to determine the undertone of a white paint here are two options to figure it out.   If you have a swatch or card with multiple paint colors. The paint color on the bottom of the card will show the undertone color.  If you have a single-color paint swatch place it on a piece of white printer paper. This will slightly overexpose the color to reveal the undertone.



What type of natural light do you have and how much of it? Southern facing rooms tend to feel warmer due to the abundance of light exposure. These rooms might feel too bright and need to be offset with a cool white. On the other hand, North facing rooms get little to no sunlight and feel cooler reflecting shadows. These rooms may require a warm white to make the space feel like there is some natural warmth. East and West exposure will change throughout the day, so you want to stay with a more neutral color. Same train of thought, if your house has an abundance of windows or very few it will affect the lighting in your home.

What type of artificial light do you have? Daylight bulbs (blue), soft white (neutral) or warm (yellow), this will affect how the white paint looks as well and you may need to offset the artificial light.

Is there anything surrounding the exterior of your home that can affect the color? Tall trees, water, fields of hay, etc. Exterior elements can reflect into your home and on to your white walls changing the color.

What are the main colors and textures throughout your home? Typically, warm and cool tones are complimented by similar white paint hues.



What is the overall look you would like to achieve? Modern, Traditional, Cozy, Cool?

We highly recommend using peal and stick swatches.  They can easily be reused to move them around the home.  This is helpful so you can look at them in different natural and artificial light throughout the day.  If you are picking a full house paint color, make sure you move it around to other rooms. 

If you fall in love with a color but would prefer it to be slightly lighter but not a full shade down, or if you would like to reduce the undertone, you can have the retailer decrease the percentage ratio. For example, 75% strength would be slightly less saturated than the original color at 100% as they are adding 25% pure white.

Ultra-Pure White, Behr 185 – Behr’s purest white and the whitest white we are sharing. LRV 94

High Reflective White, Sherwin Williams SW 7757 - Our favorite pure white, it comes across clean and bright with the slightest bit of warmth. LRV 93

Chantilly Lace, Benjamin Moore 2121-70– Crisp, clean neutral undertone that is very versatile and instantly brightens your space. Note this can come across cool in a north facing room. LRV 90.04

Super White, Benjamin Moore OC -152 – Similar to Chantilly Lace but slightly darker. LRV 87.36



Pure White, Sherwin Williams SW7005 – Soft white with a slightly warm (yellow) undertone that does not show up creamy. LRV 84

White Dove, Benjamin Moore OC-17 – Creamy white that has subtle greige undertones. LRV 83.16

Simply White, Benjamin Moore OC-117 – Yellow undertone, traditional or natural light. LRV 89.52

Cloud White, Benjamin Moore OC-130 – Soft and creamy with subtle yellow undertones. LRV 85.05

Blank Canvas, Behr DC003 – Cozy and slightly warm without being an off-white paint or creamy. LRV 84

Swiss Coffee, Benjamin Moore OC-45 – Warm earthy white, it has green and blue undertones with a hint of yellow. LRV 81.91




Extra White, Sherwin Williams SW 7006 – The base paint color for Sherwin Williams and is their purest white paint. Note this can come across cool in a north facing room. LRV 86

Decorators White, Benjamin Moore CC-20 - Subtle cool white with gray and blue-purple undertones. LRV 82.68

Paper White, Benjamin Moore OC-55- Light grey undertones with a touch of blue. LRV 74.41

Pale Oak, Benjamin Moore OC-20 – Earthy grey and brown undertones similar to white oak wood. LRV 68.64





What is pure white?

advantages + disadvantages of white paint hues and undertones

how to determine the undertone in white paint

interior and exterior considerations

other helpful tips + considerations

our favorite pure and plain whites

Pure White
Sherwin Williams 

our favorite warm whites

our favorite cool whites

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