Why Does Paint Look Different on Different Walls: Intriguing Answers Revealed

Sometimes you plan everything perfectly, and things go off without a hitch, but when you step back, it still doesn’t look right when you step back. Paint can look different on different walls. Moreover, depending on the lighting and other factors, it may not match that carefully selected shade you wanted so much. Why does this happen? Is there anything you can do to make it more precise? The frustration is real, especially when you need paint to be an exact match for something else in the room. Numerous factors affect paint, and I will walk you through some of the common ones to help you get those walls looking the way you want. Once you understand why the paint looks different from what you expected, it’s easier to make corrections. 

Why does the paint look different on different walls? The paint looks different on different walls because of light. Your perspective changes everything, and when the light source moves, brightens or dims, it affects how you see that paint. Just as a white wall in a shadow looks grey, your paint may not have changed at all, but your ability to see it the way you did in the bucket is altered, so it doesn’t appear the same. 

Why Paint Looks Different on Different Walls

Paint can look different on different walls for several reasons. For example, when that wall turns a corner and goes from natural light to a dimmer area, the shadow makes your paint look darker. It’s important to understand that, in this case, the paint hasn’t changed at all. 

The way we see things and our light sources change everything. We know that space is colorless and appears black with white specks for the stars, but when the sunlight reflects off our atmosphere, we still see a blue sky. This is a stark, if oversimplified, example of how light changes the appearance of something. 

If your wall has a slight angle, it may reflect more or less light than a nearby wall even when your light source covers the room evenly. Even a bulb right in the middle of the room with no shadows can make two same-colored walls look very different. Hence, the paint only looks different, but it is the same color in both places. 

Paint Finish Also Changes How We See Colors

You can purchase the exact same color of paint in different finishes and get a different visual result. Options like eggshell and matte are most likely to look like a paint swatch you choose in the store. Meanwhile, glosses and semigloss paints have a sheen to them. Since they reflect light, the paint may appear darker. 

Flat paints often appear lighter when dry. This is due to the chalky, light-absorbing nature of the finished product. Resultantly, you should choose a matte or eggshell if you want a true color match.

I recommend Prestige Interior Paint and Primer In One for easy wall painting. Since you don’t need multiple gallons of primer and paint, the process is faster. Moreover, the eggshell finish dries true to color. Plus, acrylic latex paints are easy to clean with just soap and water. Get it from Amazon by clicking here

Lighting Tricks

In addition to the finish and light source, simply changing a lightbulb can shift your paint’s appearance. Different bulbs have unique hues. Obviously, if you buy a green bulb, it will put out green light, but even supposedly white or clear bulbs vary. 

The amount of light your bulb puts out will change how you see surfaces it reflects off. Since many lightbulbs have a slightly blue or yellow light, the tint will be reflected on your walls. Just like a more obviously colored bulb, the color of any light changes how you see the things it illuminates. Choose colors that suit your lighting solutions. 

Natural light is much the same. In summer, bright sunlight can look different from winter sunlight because the earth is closer or further from the sun. Likewise, sunsets and cloudy days will change your lighting’s hue and thus affect those walls differently. 

Does Paint Get Darker With a Second Coat

Another reason paint may look different on different walls is the primer and paint layers. People often ask if paint darkens with multiple layers, and the answer is no. If your paint looks lighter when applied over the primer, it is the primer showing through, not the color of the paint itself. 

By adding an extra coat of paint, you can make the color richer and more true to your paint swatch. However, it is important to use that primer layer. Primer isn’t just a clean work surface.

Most primers also offer humidity protection and similar bonuses, which can help prevent the formation of mold in walls. This is even more important in humid climates, but it rains everywhere. Always use a two-in-one or a primer coat when you paint. 

KILZ Interior Latex Primer from Amazon can help you prevent mildew and stains on your walls. Designed for high temperatures, humidity, and moisture, this primer is ideal for anywhere in your home and even does well in kitchens and bathrooms. This well-known and trusted brand has been around for over forty years and was named Harris Poll EquiTrend’s Paint Brand of the Year in 2015. Learn more when you click here. 

Temperature Can Change Paint Color As It Dries

Most noticeable when you touch up paint after a while, color changes may be the result of temperature. It’s actually vital to repaint or do touch-ups at the same temperature as the original coat. While the paint should be the same color, heat affects how it dries. 

When the weather or inside temperature is ten degrees warmer than the original paint, the new coat will dry darker. Alternately, at just ten degrees cooler, the paint may dry lighter on the walls. Also, paint and painted walls can change slightly over time. Resultantly, picking a perfect color match for the current color is a better plan than reusing old paint. 

No matter what color you paint, get a Wagner Spraytech Right PaintStick for easy, even application. Skip the cheap, old fashioned rollers, and get the job done faster with this syringe style paint roller. An included cover and extendable arm add to the appeal. Once you’ve painted with one of these, you’ll never want an outmoded, short-handled roller and tray setup again. See the outstanding Amazon reviews right here. 

Why Does Paint Look Different When Dry

Although paint looks different on different walls and in a different light, there’s another time when paint changes color. Going from wet to dry, your paint can change color quite noticeably. This is another visual trick.

The solvent in the paint, which is wet, will not be part of the final result. It is there to make the paint a liquid so you can smooth it along the walls’ surface. Without moisture, you couldn’t paint. However, this liquid evaporates, leaving only the dry paint and pigments behind. 

The color of the paint itself, the pigments inside are not changing at all. However, the higher moisture content in wet paint causes it to reflect light differently. Thus we see a different color, so choose your paint based on the dry appearance in the room you plan to paint, rather than how it appears when you hold a swatch or chip in store. This is where small test-size paint cans come in most useful. 

Remember to paint your test sample with the house at the same temperature as you plan for the final project. Otherwise, your inside temperature can and will still affect the final result. 

How Long Will It Take to Dry

Watching paint dry isn’t exciting, but it helps to know how long it will take before you can see the finished shade or add a new coat. Oil-based paints take far longer than acrylics to dry. Since water evaporates faster than oil, this is merely a natural result of the ingredients inside your paint. 

Acrylic paint should be touch-dry in about an hour. You can add your second coat as needed within four hours of the original. Meanwhile, you should expect oil-based paints to take six to eight hours before they are safe to touch, and you need to wait a full twenty-four hours before adding a new coat. 

Final Thoughts

There’s not much you can do about the way human eyes and light work together. When different walls with the same paint appear different, that’s precisely the case. They only appear different. 

What you can do is choose a paint that’s various hues all appeal to you regardless. Moreover, you can change up your lighting to get the best possible effect. Finally, opt for a matte or eggshell finish to get the closest visual color match with your swatch, and remember to get new color matching paint for touchups. 

Hopefully, it helps to understand that there’s nothing wrong with your paint. Metamerism, the psychological-physical shift in how we see colors based on visual tricks, can be frustrating, but it is an inescapable part of life. 

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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