May 2016
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My Color is Too Dark, Why Can’t the Paint Store Lighten it?

We get this question all the time. And unfortunately there is not much a paint store can do when a color is too dark or too deep. Here’s why:

Once colorants are added to a paint base, they cannot be removed. The colorants are quite strong and most colors don’t require more than a few ounces. Most of the color in a paint can is white, so if you wanted to make your color a little lighter, you’d have to add 1/2-gallon to a full gallon of additional base. So you can imagine, a paint store would have to add a huge amount of white colorant to lighten the color. These colorants are really expensive ($40 to $160 per gallon) and adding more than a few ounces would ruin the paint anyway, so when the paint store clerk says they can’t lighten the paint, they are telling the truth. And even if they could, just adding white colorant would “gray out” or “mute” the color and probably wouldn’t give you the desired results anyway.

You can always add more colorant (to a point), so if you think your color may be too dark or deep, start with a lighter shade or with 50% formula. Then you can try the color and if you want it darker the paint store can always add more color. Of course, you can test any color with Myperfectcolor’s Anycolor Paint Sample Minicans – and you can even test any colors in lighter or darker variations (e.g. 50% lighter or 50% darker).

5 comments to My Color is Too Dark, Why Can’t the Paint Store Lighten it?

  • Isaac

    As a painter I hear this often. My big issue is that customers would like me to add a gallon of white. I tell them that it is much more important to me to be able to repeat the color again in the future. I really work hard to give all the samples that are needed.

  • Isaac, You raise a great point. You raise a great point. Customers often ask us to alter the color of a partially used gallon. We certainly can add colorant to alter the color, but since the amount of paint in the can has changed, the formulation is no longer valid so if more paint is ever needed we would have to rematch the color. Thanks for participating! -Jason

  • Misty

    So is it worth a shot if you have a gallon of say “medium beige”, to mix in a half gallon of white? Is it definitely going to make it lighter or will it only “maybe” make it lighter? Is there any way to calculate before hand? I’m not worried about rematching because I have three gallons and could buy quarts so that I can do an “exact” remix of all three and call it done….

  • Hi Misty,

    You can certainly add white and it will make it lighter. However, you will only know how much lighter when you start adding the white. I would recommend adding a little at a time until you get it right. Remember that you can always add more, so better to go slowly than add too much and end up going too far. Also remember to dry the paint each time so you know the color you have because paint dries darker. We use a hair dryer to dry the paint quickly while matching colors.

    Thanks for visiting! -Jason

  • Just out of curiosity. Will the color pigment float or sink if the paint in the can is not touched for a long time? Everybody talks about adding paint to lighten it. What about removing color pigment? If it sinks, maybe I could wait for 1 or 2 weeks and pour most of the paint into another can, but leaving the residual on the bottom.

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