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Updated: Mar 28, 2023

So what are paint undertones anyway? Undertones are the result of mixing two colors together to create a new color. The dominant color, or mass tone/overtone, is the color you see. The color you don’t see is the undertone.

For example, mixing blue and green will give you a turquoise color; if there is more blue in the mix, then green will be the undertone. Another example is when creating a beige color, if the formula has more green in it, then it will have a green undertone; more red, a pink undertone. Even the most neutral beige can become green in certain settings. Green undertones aren’t always easily visible until they meet up with your cabinetry or flooring with its own undertones of yellow or orange. This is what can make a green undertone problematic; having a warm wood tone in your flooring or cabinetry can really set off even the slightest green undertone. Keep in mind when choosing a beige or taupe color, the pink undertone appears most often when near a green, blue, or violet color.

A good tip is not to look at colors in isolation. If you’re just looking at a white by itself, it will probably just look white. But put it next to a pure white and you’ll see how it differs — the green or pink or blue undertone will show up in comparison. You can use this with any color: Just put the color you’re considering next to a pure example of that color; the undertone will quickly reveal itself. When deciding on a light neutral, look at the mid-to-darker colors on the color deck; it will be much easier to identify the undertone than the paler colors at the top.

Sampling a paint color in your home is the absolute best way to check to see if a color will work in your home. Everything from flooring, to countertops and cabinetry, to even the plantings outside, can bring out undertones you didn’t see at first. Know what type of natural light a room gets and then check the paint sample during different times of the day. Morning, afternoon and evening light will change the way the paint color looks on the wall and it is important that you like it in all different types of lighting. Pro Tip:If you’ve already painted the walls and are unhappy with the undertone, try replacing the light bulbs in the room. Light bulbs come in different tones (warm, cool, or daylight/natural), and can correct an undertone problem quickly, inexpensively, and without having to repaint.

Good luck with your painting project and remember that the staff at Whitestone Hardware is here to help you find the color you love.

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