How to work with sample colors at home
Start sampling. Once you have your short list, get samples and bring them home to try out. Most paint companies offer sample-sized cans, and even if they aren’t free, it’s worth the small investement.
Get ready to test paint. Before you start brushing broad strokes on the wall, you’ll want to set the stage. Make sure the lighting is set the way it will be when the room is in use, so you don’t get a false sense of how the color will read. The color of the existing wall will also affect how the paint reads. If you are painting a dark wall with a lighter color, you might want to apply primer to the area to are going to test, assuming you’ll be using primer in the final project.
Paint away. There are three main things to keep in mind once you’re ready to apply some sample paint. First, don’t go too small. We recommend test painting an area of at least 1′ x 1′. Second, apply two coats of paint. This is the reality of most paint jobs, so two coats gives you the most accurate picture. And finally, test paint more than one wall if you can. Again, lighting has a big impact on how a color will read, so testing it out on a wall that gets a lot of sun vs. one that doesn’t, for example, will give you more information upon which to make your final color decision.
If you’re hesitant to paint right on the walls, you can try this little “hack.” Apply some of your sample paint direclty to a piece of white foam board (available at any craft or office supply store), let it dry and apply a second coat. Then, using blue painter’s tape, hang the board in the room you plan to paint.
There are also lots on online tools to help you visualize the colors you are considering. The Sherwin-Williams Color Visualizer, for example, lets you upload photos and apply and of their throusand of paint colors to see how they will look. An online method will never be as accurate as painting a swatch in the actual room, but tools like these can be a great place to start if you need to narrow down colors from a long list of contenders.