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White is not white


A nyone who has ever tried to pick out white paint will tell you that white is not white. Several years ago, as I set out to repaint much of the chipped and faded white trim in the house I  went in search of white paint. That’s when I first discovered how many whites there were in the world. Overwhelmed, I took in a large chip of paint (that’s how bad the woodwork was) and had them match it. Well as you can imagine, that didn’t work at all and I ended up with a gross gray color. So then I started playing with the colors and came up with a custom formula that I’ve been guarding with my life. The problem? Well, it’s a pain in the butt to walk around with a custom formula, and it seems stupid to have one for white.

So I decided that I’m going to find a white made by a major paint manufacturer that will be around forever and start painting the woodwork with that. I’m looking for something that matches what I’ve been using very closely and if anything is a little brighter.

So last night I stopped at my favorite store—True Value—which is even MORE my favorite store now because they carry Benjamin Moore paint, and grabbed a handful of paint swatches. Then I found what was left of my custom mix, painted a paint stick with it, and started matching. As you can see from the photo … this is not easy.

I also searched the good ol’ World Wide Web for some advice and came up with a list of about 15 different Benjamin Moore whites that people claimed were the “best” for trim.

Right now my two contenders (which I’ll probably buy pints of to try before committing … I currently have 6 pints of BM colors varying from cream to yellow to shocking cream sitting in my basement … anyone have some suggestions of what to do with them?) are Cotton Balls or Simply White. If anyone has some advice, boy, I’ll take it.

And then of course, it gets even more complicated: Semi-gloss or satin? Oil-based or water-based? (Water, I’m thinking, with an oil primer underneath if need be.) These are more decisions than I make in an average day, for cryin’ out loud.

One thing I’m NOT buying is the whole “it’s just paint” thing. Sure, I know of all the home improvement things you can do, it’s one of the least expensive, but paint (the good stuff anyway) isn’t really all that cheap anymore and, more importantly, time is way too precious to put paint on unless you’re going to love it.

5 Responses

  1. Isn't that just the most frustrating experience, Linda (i.e. ELW)? Just when you want to sit back and admire your hard work, instead you sit back and think, "Oh dear." I had that experience in the aforementioned guest room but I just couldn't bring myself to repaint (we have very heavily textured plaster walls that are a bear to paint) so it stands as a constant reminder of why it's worth it to buy all those paint samples.

    Glad to hear you like Benjamin Moore paint. I've not actually painted anything with that brand yet (other than sample patches under paintings) but I've heard nothing but good things.

  2. I love Benjamin Moore paints and we have been using those little sample jars and comparing colors in situ so we don't make as many bad decisions. Also we finally started a folder with the samples and a list with each chip as to what color was used in what room, including ceiling and trim. We still don't have it down to one ceiling color and one trim color but we'll get there as rooms need repainting.

    Last room we painted, we were almost finished when we looked at each other and admitted it was all wrong and went out and bought more paint and started over. Good decision but frustrating!

  3. I sat and stared at your paint, and what I thought matched the most kept changing. Yes, there are different whites, even in our choices for blog colors. We have lived in the house my husband grew up in for 12 years. A friend of his parents helped us paint. She took me to where she thought we should get the paint, insisted we get all white, and then she paid for the paint. We thought she was loaning us the money, but after several attempts to pay her back, we realized she didn't want to be paid back. I am in the process of trying to get rid of some clutter. We really need to be thinking of what colors we'd like to paint our rooms.

    I hope you figure out which color matches the best.

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