How to Choose the Perfect White Paint Color

You know the feeling. You’re staring down a wall of paint chips at the paint store. Why are there so many options? Sigh. There are seemingly endless paint colors. Here are some tips on how to choose white paint for your home.

Sometimes choosing the right white paint color requires a pro to help you narrow your choices. Or maybe you want a list of options, you know, in case you’d rather save your brain cells for choosing other things. Read on for both.

Start With an Undertone

Yes, white paint goes with everything. But it’s not a “one size fits all” color. There are hundreds of shades of white – maybe more. So, an excellent place to start is knowing the difference between bright white and warmer white and even neutral white.

Colors have different undertones – those are the shades underneath (mixed in with) the color you see. Cool whites have a blue, silver, or purple undertone. Warm whites get their color by mixing them with yellow, brown, or orange.

southampton living room white

Blending warm and cold whites leaves a room feeling mismatched. So, choose either warm or cold white, then stick with that undertone throughout the whole room.

Pick your undertone by looking at permanent fixtures like floors, cabinets, and backsplashes. Let those guide your paint choice.

A consistent undertone will make your space feel coordinated and comfortable.

Choose the Right Lighting

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The lighting you choose will make or break your white paint. The difference between artificial light and natural light are significant enough that it can change a pure white into something else.

If you get your paint on the wall and notice it looks completely different than it did on the chip, check your lighting. If you have warm walls and cool light, you’ll get the same type of conflict you have in mixing your paint undertones.

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The good news is, you can fix this by adjusting your light fixtures and bulbs, even after you paint. Light is measured in Kelvins. Higher Kelvins mean cooler lights; lower numbers give you warmer lights.

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Check out your lightbulb packaging to find this measurement (often, it’s shortened to K). You can almost guarantee you’ll get the right match.

A Cheat Sheet of White Paints

If you’re still having trouble finding the right white for your walls – we’re here to help. And if you want a list of right white paint colors to start with, we’ve got that, too. Here are a few of our go-to whites:

white walls bedroom soft peach curtains

Delicate White – This is a true winter white with no undertone. It pairs with any paint color and will work in almost any space. A living room is a great start.

Gypsum – A pale, gray-white with a red undertone that works with warmer hues and is beautiful with dark green.

Commercial White – Choose this pale gray-white with an umber undertone if you have lots of sunlight. Pair it with deeper toned greige walls.

Silver Feather – A delicate white with an amethyst undertone. This white paint color opens up spaces and makes them feel warm. Pair it with deeper taupe colors or blue hues.

Antique White – This caramel white has a bronze undertone. Pair it with gray or beige to create an elegantly historical style in any room.

Haven’t quite found your favorite white or you’re looking for more ideas on the perfect white paint color? Browse our curated list of trending colors and order free paint samples or get a free online quote today!


Kelley Rebori

Kelley Rebori has written for national brands like Paintzen, HGTV, the DIY Network and Trulia for more than a decade. She loves home renovation projects, chocolate icing and small poodles. She and her husband split the year between their homes in Tennessee and Italy.