White is the go-to paint color for many people for a reason: It’s clean, neutral, and timeless. It matches any style of window treatments, flooring, and accent decor. Furniture of all price points looks great against a white backdrop. White also brightens up a room, especially in areas with few windows or a lack of natural light. There’s so much to love about white paint. But are white walls with white trim a good idea? And if so, should you paint both the same shade, or a white variant that adds contrast? Let’s talk through the answers to these questions.
Shades and Sheen
White paint comes in all kinds of colors and sheens. Many people don’t realize there are numerous shades of white. For example, PPG has Antique White, Commercial White, Crumb Cookie, Combed Cotton, Silver Feather — the list goes on. What gives white paint a different look is the subtle undertone. Undertones vary significantly, from warmer to cooler. If it’s warmer, it probably has red, tan or orange undertones. If it’s cooler, it probably has gray, blue, or green undertones. For example, the shade Crumb Cookie has a sandy undertone, which is warm.
It’s almost impossible to get a perfect white, so when choosing white paint for your wall painting project, make sure you pick one with an undertone that you like. Grab a swatch or a paint sample and examine it under both natural light (sunshine) and artificial light (lightbulb) to ensure you like the way it looks.
Now, let’s talk about sheen. Choosing the right sheen for your wall or trim is important since white colors show off more drywall imperfections on your walls and wood grains on your trim. For walls, the sheen provides more depth and reflection. On trim, sheen provides more gloss and durability.
- Wall Sheen: A flat, eggshell or even satin white is most popular for walls. It hides drywall imperfections and has a nice finished look when dry. The right amount of sheen can bring a slight velvet look to your walls, if that’s what you’re going for.
- Trim Sheen: Satin or semi-gloss is most popular for trim. It will be more durable, more washable, add a nice gloss to your trim areas, and bring a little shine and brightness. A white semi-gloss will really bring a pop to your interior trim.
The type of sheen that will look best in your room varies depending on natural light, size of wall and foot traffic in that area. No matter the sheen, a professional application will ensure you don’t have roller marks or brush strokes in your wall areas.
Also, keep in mind that new white paint can be tough to cover the previous paint color. A professional painter will choose the right sheen to make sure your coverage is so good, you never see the old color bleeding through your new white color.
Should My White Walls and Trim Match?
Now if you’re painting your walls AND trim white, you may wonder if they should use the same paint. Does the white need to match exactly, or should it vary slightly from the trim? The answer is up to your personal preference, but follow these guidelines:
- If you choose a separate shade of white for your trim, make the colors different enough that the shades look intentional. You don’t want to look as if you tried to match the colors and failed. There should be a noticeable contrast between the two.
- Stick with similar undertones in your shades of white. If your wall color has a cool undertone, make sure the color you choose for your trim has a cool undertone, too. Pairing a warm undertone with a cool undertone will look off.
- An even more subtle way to add slight variation between your trim and walls is with sheen. Whites in different sheens will give you that desired break in the look between the wall and baseboard/windows/door frames and crown molding.
- If you don’t like the look of slight contrast, it’s perfectly fine to paint both your walls and trim the same shade of white. Using the same shade gives your room a clean and uniform look.
Here are some of the most popular white paint colors to consider for your walls and/or trim:
- Delicate white, PPG1001-1: Non-existent undertone
- Commercial white, PPG1025-1: Umber undertone
- Gypsum, PPG1006-1: Red undertone
- Silver feather, PPG1002-1: Amethyst undertone
- Antique white, PPG1024-2: Bronze undertone
- Aria, PPG1001-2: Gray-blue undertone
So, are white walls and white trim a good idea? If you’re going for a clean, classic look, we’d say yes. However keep in mind that you don’t have to paint your walls and trim the same exact shade of white. You can add subtle contrast by varying the shade or sheen, but we recommend staying with the same undertone family (cool versus warm.)
If you need additional expertise on painting walls and trim, let us know. Our professional painters are standing by and ready to turn your home into the white oasis you envision.
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