Can you match paint colors from different fan decks?

by admin on March 7, 2014


Princess Kate Middleton Hates the Purple Walls in Her Home in Vanity Fair the failed color matching story.

Video from 2012 demonstrates what painting contractors already know; that paints may not look even close to their paint fan chip counter part.


I spoke to a conference room  of interior designers and color consultants this past weekend in Seattle; similar to most events of this nature the discussion was a broad sweep of paint color in the context of a design build business environment.  Eventually, the topic shifts to, “Can you match paint colors from different fan decks of different paint manufacturers?” Opinion on this matter goes the full spectrum. From those that think, “Sure. I can match any paint color anywhere with the paint dealer that I use,” to opinions that center on, “These colors can only be replicated with this special colorant system that we have,” etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum. I’ve been dealing with this issue for many years and my opinions, where they’ve remained the same, have slightly shifted in the past ten years. In general, you should know that besides paint manufacturers, such as C2 and the new Color Stories from Benjamin Moore, which their color chips are actually painted on by real paint, all other paint manufacturer color decks are just reproductions using the print process CMYK, and if you look on the very back of the color fan, there’s usually a disclaimer, which states that these colors are only an approximation.


Belltown-Seattle -painting-project


The Farrow and Ball Telephone Call Seattle BellTown Color Project

I received a telephone call spring of 2012 and the caller was asking whether Shearer was a distributor of Farrow and Ball Paints in Seattle. She mentioned that she had found my website from a search for Farrow and Ball. I told her we are not a paint distributor, but it sounded like she needed some help. She did. In fact, she was calling because she was on a project and having difficulties with getting the right yellow that she wanted. She lived in her current place, high-rise condominium in Belltown and was moving to another high-rise condominium in Belltown and loved the color yellow, had yellow in her existing building and wanted to reproduce a similar yellow in her new place. Unfortunately, all the color systems and color fans that they brought out did not work. So, she was finding out if she could use Farrow and Ball and she liked one of the colors. This started a relationship where I started off as a color consultant and then as the painting contractor. Unfortunately, the painting contractor on this job was very typical of many contractors who are very determined to use only one paint manufacturer. This is not a comment to whether I think that is bad or good. There are many reasons why a painting contractor sticks with one paint manufacturer, that has nothing to do with price or performance, but a lot to do with service, delivery, and do you have a partner for the paint dealer if something goes wrong. In this situation, they were trying to use yellows that did not work using Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams color decks. After my consult, we arrived on the color Moxie from C2 and before I was hired as a painting contractor they went around in circles, the other trades on the job, trying to reproduce Moxie. One of the problems with reproducing Moxie in C2 is that C2 has a high yellow and a low yellow in the colorant system. Where most colorant systems have twelve colorants, C2 Paint has sixteen. This really plays out when it comes to yellows and reds, and getting into color spaces that other paint manufacturers can’t get to, particularly ones that only use the universal colorants.

Keeping the Spec

The Deep Purple Project

Farrow and Ball not good at their own colors

Color Matching at Benjamin Moore Seattle


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