Try Before You Buy: Say Goodbye to Color Uncertainty With These 6 Paint Color Apps

published Oct 20, 2016
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(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

The world of paint can feel endless. So many blues, grays, whites…how do you settle on one for your wall? I’m a firm believer that nothing will ever replace buying samples and testing a paint color out before diving into gallons of a certain shade, but to get a rough idea of a paint color family or hue without having to head to the hardware store, give one of these six apps a try!

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A few things to remember before embarking on your virtually color testing journey:

Paint colors will always look different (sometimes slightly, sometimes drastically) in real life, as the lighting in the room in which it is being used can alter the shade. The calibration of your phone screen can also be a culprit in altering how a color looks, so be mindful of that. It’s a good idea to test out any colors you’re thinking of using before buying gallon upon gallon, though, to ensure it’s what you were envisioning!

(Image credit: Behr)

If you’ve ever used Behr’s ColorSmart tool on the paint company’s site, you’ll be familiar with the inner workings of this app. Browse the full catalog of Behr paints, preview your choice of color in a variety of room types, and snap real-life photos of anything you want to color match with a Behr paint. Something to note, though, is that this tool might be better suited for non-Apple users, as it’s rated much higher (3.5 stars) on the Android platform than through the iTunes store (1.5 stars).

Cost: Free

Available Operating Systems: iOS, Android

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Much like other paint company-specific apps, Benjamin Moore’s version lets you play around with the brand’s paint offerings in the palm of your hand. The app makes it easy to save favorites, in case you want to refer back later to narrow down selections. Saw your perfect room shade on the outside of a building when out for an afternoon walk? Just snap a swatch with the app, and it’ll give you the closest BM match.

Cost: Free

Available Operating Systems: iOS, Android

(Image credit: iTunes)

Picking a cohesive color palette that excites you can be tricky. For one, there seems to be an endless supply of hues to choose from, and secondly, mixing and matching can be incredibly intimidating. Enter ColorSnap. Just take a picture of a scene, artwork (or anything really) that inspires you and it’ll pull out pigments to create a palette of Sherwin-Williams paints. If you’re in store looking at chips, you can easily scan them with the app to see them in action in various room settings, as well.

Cost: Free

Available Operating Systems: iOS, Android

(Image credit: Paint My Place)

This app is really useful…once you “unlock” it (i.e. pay $2.99). The free download is fun to tinker with, but it doesn’t give you many colors to choose from. The plus side is you can upload your own image to virtually “paint” your home, and if you purchase the pro version, you have your pick of over 30,000 paint colors from 37 companies, including Sherwin-Williams, Ralph Lauren Paint, Martha Stewart Paints, Olympic, and dozens more. Note that it’s currently only available for download via the iTunes App store (no Androids yet!).

Cost: A locked version is free; unlock for $2.99 upgrade

Available Operating Systems: iOS

(Image credit: iTunes)

If you’re looking to land on a general color family and saturation, as opposed to an actual paint color from a certain brand, Paint Tester is a great tool. The free version lets you select from their available “paint bucket”, but if you upgrade (at a cost of $2.99) to the pro version, you can use the color capture tool, which allows you to take a photo of anything you want, try the color out virtually, and record the hex code (that you can then take to your favorite paint company to color match!).

Cost: A trial version is free; upgrade for $2.99

Available Operating Systems: iOS, Android

(Image credit: Home Harmony)

This is only for Android users, but reviewers gave it an average 4-star rating, and lots of accolades. Though some users note its bugginess, new updates claim to address those issues. The paint company selections seem to be limited, but the “try this paint color out virtually on your own room photo” function appears to work really well.

Cost: Free

Available Operating Systems: Android

Once you’ve settled on the paint you want for your project, the next step is to estimate how much you actually need to get the job done. The Paint Quality Institute has a helpful calculator; just put in the dimensions of the surfaces you’re looking to paint, and leave the guess work behind (read: never buy too much paint again).

If your paint job is under control but need help with other aspects of your home’s design: