PAINT COLORS & LRV: The Ultimate Guide You Need to Read

What is LRV and Why is it Important?

Partner Blog Post: LRV, Paint Colors & YOU

Have you ever been surprised by how different your painted walls look compared to the color you chose? The culprit behind this discrepancy is LRV, which stands for Light Reflectance Value.

Before we dive into the details, let me assure you that I’ve spent nine hours and utilized my 20+ years of experience to research and write this article. So, grab a glass of wine and get ready to learn – because while I’m keeping it simple, I’m not keeping it short!

Paint Colors and LRV

Understanding LRV for Paint Colors

Every paint color has an LRV number that falls on a scale between 0 (black) and 100 (white). The LRV number tells you how light or dark a color appears compared to pure black and pure white. Essentially, it reveals the depth of the color.

By knowing a paint color’s exact depth, you can more effectively coordinate other colors or find the perfect shade for your project. For instance, Benjamin Moore White Dove has an LRV of 83.16, indicating that it reflects a lot of light.

Benjamin Moore White Dove

However, it’s important to note that lighting plays a significant role in how colors are perceived. Colors need light to truly come to life.

The Useable LRV Scale

While the LRV scale technically goes up to 100 and down to 0, practical paint colors fall within specific ranges. For whites, the range is typically 82-94, with 94 being the whitest white available. On the other end, mid-two’s represent the darkest, lowest LRV colors in the paint world.

Light Reflectance Value Scale

It’s essential to understand these ranges when exploring paint colors:

  • 2-10: Dark Paint Color
  • 10-20: Medium-Dark Paint Color
  • 20-40: Medium-Depth Paint Color
  • 40-55: Light-Medium Color
  • 55-72: Light Color
  • 73-81: Off-White Color
  • 82-94: White Paint Color

Remember, these ranges are approximate, and perception can influence how light or dark a paint color appears.

Finding a Paint Color’s LRV Number

Finding a paint color’s LRV number can be a challenge, as it’s not always readily available. However, some popular paint brands provide LRV information in specific locations:

  • Sherwin Williams:
    • Back of the fan deck or color chips
  • Benjamin Moore:
    • Benjamin Moore website, on the specific color page
  • Farrow & Ball:
    • Contact customer service
  • Valspar:
    • Fan deck index
  • Kelly Moore:
    • Fan deck index
  • Behr:
    • Fan deck index

Additionally, check out the back of Sherwin Williams color strips or the index of Benjamin Moore fan decks for visible LRV information.

Sherwin Williams LRV
Benjamin Moore LRV

Choosing Paint Colors for Different Lighting

It’s crucial to consider lighting when selecting paint colors. Here’s a breakdown of how different lighting conditions affect the appearance of specific paint colors:

Bright Rooms

In well-lit spaces, light paint colors tend to appear even lighter, while dark colors can showcase their undertones more prominently. This is because light colors reflect more light and dark colors absorb more light.

Sherwin Williams Cascade Green

Poorly Lit Rooms

In rooms with minimal natural or artificial light, lighter colors may appear flat and drab, while dark colors can resemble black. To combat this, consider adding more color to counteract the lack of light.

Sherwin Williams Creamy

Rooms with Moderate Lighting

Moderately lit rooms provide a balance between too much and too little light. Paint colors in this setting will appear closer to their actual LRV.

Benjamin Moore Collingwood

Dark Rooms

In dark rooms, light paint colors can help brighten the space but will still require adequate lighting to truly come to life. Choosing colors with more chroma can also enhance brightness in dark rooms.

Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter

The Impact of Lighting on LRV

Keep in mind that natural light does not change a paint color’s LRV. However, the amount of light a color receives affects its reflective properties. Colors with higher LRVs reflect more light, while colors with lower LRVs reflect less light.

Light Reflectance Value


Light Reflectance Value (LRV) plays a crucial role in how paint colors appear in different lighting conditions. By understanding the LRV scale and considering lighting factors, you can choose the right color that suits your space.

Remember, light is key for paint colors to come to life, and perception can influence how we perceive color depth. So, take the time to evaluate colors in various lighting scenarios before making your final decision.

Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
The 6 Best Light Paint Colors for a Dark Room

If you still need guidance in choosing the perfect color, check out my E-BOOKS and online color consulting services.

Chat soon,
Kylie M Interiors

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