Tips for Choosing the Perfect Oil-based Paint Color for Your Home

Choosing the perfect color of oil-based paint for your home can be a daunting task, fraught with indecision and uncertainty. With so many hues, shades, and finishes to choose from, it’s easy to get lost in the endless sea of possibilities. But fear not! With a little guidance and some helpful tips, you can streamline the process and select a color and finish that will turn your home into a warm and inviting haven. In this article, we’ll explore step-by-step how to pick the right color, choose a finish, and test before painting, so you can be confident in your choice and enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.

Pick the Right Color

Pick The Right Color
When it comes to painting your home, choosing the right color can make all the difference in creating the desired atmosphere and mood. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide on the perfect shade. However, with a few considerations in mind, you can confidently select the right color for your space. From using a color palette to analyzing the lighting and size of the room, this section will provide you with tips on how to pick the best color for your oil-based paint project. To learn more about the pros and cons of oil-based paint for your home, check out our article here.

Start With a Color Palette

When it comes to choosing the right color of oil-based paint for your home, starting with a color palette is essential. This will help you narrow down your choices and ensure that the colors you select match each other and create a cohesive look in your home.

Here are some tips for creating a color palette:

  • Look for inspiration in your home decor, artwork, or nature.
  • Consider the mood you want to create in the room. Do you want it to be relaxing, energizing, or cozy?
  • Think about the overall color scheme of your home.
  • Pick a color that you love and build the palette around it.

Once you have a color palette, you can start narrowing down your choices for oil-based paint colors. You can use the palette to select a main color for your walls and then choose complementary colors for accent walls or trim.

Using a color palette will also make it easier to:

  • Avoid clashing colors that create an unappealing look.
  • Create flow between rooms in your home.
  • Ensure that your oil-based paint colors will work together with your existing furniture and decor.

Starting with a color palette is a crucial step in choosing the right color of oil-based paint for your home. By taking the time to create a color palette, you’ll set yourself up for success and be able to confidently select the best colors for your space.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of oil-based paint, check out 5 Benefits of Oil Paint.

Consider the Room Size

When choosing the right color of oil-based paint for your home, another important step to consider is the size of the room. Larger rooms may have a different effect when painted with certain colors compared to smaller rooms. For instance, darker hues may create a cozy atmosphere in a smaller room, while the same color could make a large room feel even smaller.

To combat this, it’s important to be mindful of the size of the room when selecting a paint color. Use lighter colors to make a small room look more spacious, while opting for darker or bolder colors can add depth and character to a larger room.

It’s also important to note that the amount of natural light a room receives can affect how it appears with certain paint colors. For example, a north-facing room that doesn’t receive much natural light may appear colder with a cool color on the walls, whereas a warm color could add some much-needed warmth to the space.

To ensure that the paint color you choose compliments the size of the room, it’s a good idea to create a mood board or visual plan that takes into account the space’s dimensions and the natural lighting situation. Don’t be afraid to use paint swatches to test out different colors or shades against the wall to see how they look with the room’s current style and decor.

Remember, the size of the room is just as essential a factor to consider as the color of the paint itself. By being mindful of the space’s proportions and how much natural light it receives, you can create an inviting and beautiful environment that feels just right.

Think About Lighting

Proper lighting is an essential factor when choosing a suitable color for your paint job. Light changes the way the color appears on your walls. The same color in two different rooms can look entirely different depending on the lighting situation. It is crucial to understand the effects of light before making your final choice. To determine how different types of light will change the appearance of paint colors, take into consideration the following factors:

Type of Light Description Best Paint Colors
Natural Light Natural lighting is typically the best way to showcase color, as it presents the truest version of any hue. It is crucial to observe how light changes throughout the day, as colors can appear differently depending on the time of day and the direction of the light source. Colors with a cool undertone such as blues, greens, and grays tend to look best in rooms with plenty of natural light. Warm colors like yellows, reds, or oranges, get complement from natural light and enhance its intensity.
Incandescent Light Incandescent light tends to be warm and yellowish in color, which can make certain colors appear muted or dull. Colors with warm undertones, like reds or yellows, tend to work well in rooms with incandescent bulbs. Sticking to warmer colors can help balance out the yellow tint of the light while creating a cozy atmosphere.
Fluorescent Light Fluorescent light tends to be cooler and bluish in tone, which can wash out certain colors or make them appear brighter or more vibrant than intended. Choosing warm colors with reddish undertones, which tend to be intensified under fluorescent lighting, can create a nice contrast to the cool, bluish light. Avoiding cooler colors like blues and purples can prevent colors from being washed out or looking sickly.

Understanding how lighting affects the appearance of a color can help narrow down your color options. Consider taking a sample of the color you are interested in and testing it both in natural light and under the artificial indoor lighting used in the specific room. Observe the color through lthe drying process to ensure it’s the right pick. This will help avoid any surprises once you have committed to the paint job.

Coordinate with Existing Elements

When selecting a color for your home’s oil-based paint, it’s essential to coordinate with existing elements in the room. You don’t want to create a clashing color scheme that will be unpleasant to look at. Instead, you want to pick a color that complements your furniture, rugs, curtains, and other decorations.

Here are some tips to help coordinate with existing elements:

  • Look at the dominant colors in the room and find a paint color that complements them. If your furniture is burgundy, a color with hints of red may tie the room together.
  • Consider painting your walls a neutral color if you have a lot of colorful furniture and decorations. This can help create a balance in the room.
  • Use a color wheel to determine the color scheme of your room. Colors opposite each other on the wheel are complementary, so consider choosing a paint color that is opposite your dominant color.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns and colors, but make sure they complement each other. Pull colors from a patterned rug or curtain to find a color that will work on your walls.

By coordinating with your existing elements, you can create a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing look in your home. For more tips on oil-based paint, check out our article on oil-based paint tips.

Choose a Finish

Choose A Finish
When it comes to painting your home, choosing the right color is just the beginning. The finish of your oil-based paint is just as important, as it can affect the overall aesthetic appeal of your space. The finish you choose can also determine the durability and longevity of the paint job. There are a few options when it comes to choosing a finish, including glossy, eggshell, and matt. Each type of finish has its own pros and cons, and understanding them is crucial to making the right choice for your home. After you explore the different types of finishes, don’t forget to read the next section of our guide about testing your chosen paint before going all in!

Glossy Finish

When choosing the right color of oil-based paint for your home, it’s equally important to consider the type of finish you want. A glossy finish is one of the most popular options that homeowners choose. This type of finish is reflective and shiny, which can be a great choice for certain rooms and surfaces.

Advantages of Glossy Finish

One of the biggest advantages of a glossy finish is that it’s easy to clean. This is because the surface is smooth, making it harder for dirt and grime to stick. A glossy finish also adds depth and richness to a room, making it a great choice for surfaces like cabinets, doors, and trim. Another advantage of glossy finish is that it creates a strong and durable surface, which is great for high-traffic areas.

Disadvantages of Glossy Finish

Despite the advantages, glossy finish may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It can accentuate imperfections on the surface, so it’s not ideal for walls that have lots of dents or scratches. Glossy finish also has a tendency to show brush marks, so it might not be the best choice for DIY projects. Additionally, it takes longer to dry compared to other finishes, so you need to be patient when applying it.

If you decide to use a glossy finish, it’s important to prepare the surface properly before application. This includes cleaning, sanding, and priming the surface. It’s also recommended to use a high-quality brush or roller to avoid leaving brush marks.

The decision whether to use a glossy finish or not will be based on your personal preferences and your room’s needs. Remember to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type of finish to make an informed decision.

To learn more about oil-based paints, check out this article on the environmental impacts of oil paint or this guide on how to remove oil-based paint.

Eggshell Finish

When it comes to eggshell finish, the level of shine is still quite low, but higher than that of matte finish. The finish has a slight sheen that sits between the two extremes of glossy and matte, offering a velvety texture to the painted surface. The eggshell finish is much easier to clean than the matte option, with a washable surface that can withstand moderate scrubbing.

This finish is ideal for use in areas that require some degree of durability, such as hallways, living rooms, and bedrooms. Eggshell is also suitable for doors and trims, as it has a slight sheen without being too glossy, making it an attractive choice for traditional home interiors. However, it is important to note that it is less durable than glossy finishes, thus can show wear and tear over time.

It is essential to remember that the color of your paint can affect the final shade of the eggshell finish. Always test the color beforehand, on a small area, to ensure the desired outcome.

The eggshell finish falls between both the glossy and matte finishes, providing a nice midway point for those who do not prefer the extremes. Nevertheless, it is critical to take all factors into account, from room size and lighting to the type of elements that need to coordinate with the paint. By taking care with color selection and finish, it is possible to achieve a beautiful and long-lasting paint job with an eggshell finish.

If you want to know more about the best ways to clean and maintain oil-based paint surfaces, check our article on best ways to clean and maintain oil-based paint surfaces.

Matt Finish

Matt Finish is the flattest of all the oil-based paint finishes. It has no shine and gives a smooth, velvety texture to the walls. It is perfect for uneven surfaces, as it does not reflect light, which can highlight any flaws on the surface of the wall. However, it is less resistant to stains and marks compared to a glossy finish or eggshell finish.

If you want to use a matt finish, keep in mind that it is a no-fuss finish, but it requires a high-quality application technique. Any flaws, patches, or roughness will be clearly visible on the matt walls. Before painting the whole wall, first, paint a small area and closely observe how it looks when it dries. Also, make sure that the surface you are going to paint is perfectly even and clean.

A matt finish is perfect for cozy and intimate rooms, such as bedrooms, as it creates a soft and warm atmosphere. When paired with the right colors and lighting, it can make a room feel more relaxing and peaceful.

If you want to read more about oil-based paints, check out our articles on oil paint vs others and common mistakes with oil-based paint. You may also be interested in learning about the drying process of oil paint.

Test Before Painting

One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing a paint color is not testing it out first. It can be difficult to imagine how a color will look on your walls until it’s actually there, which is why it’s important to take the time to test before painting. In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of testing and provide tips for doing it effectively. By taking the time to test your chosen color and finish, you can be sure that you’ll be happy with the results once the painting is complete.

Paint a Small Area

When it comes to choosing the right color of oil-based paint for your home, it’s essential to test a small area before committing to a full application. This will allow you to observe how the paint interacts with the room’s lighting, decor, and other elements. Here are some tips for testing a small area:

Step 1: Choose an inconspicuous area of the room, such as a corner or behind a piece of furniture, to test the paint.
Step 2: Apply two coats of the paint to the area using a small roller or brush.
Step 3: Allow the paint to dry for at least 24 hours.
Step 4: Observe the painted area at different times of the day and in both natural and artificial light to see how the color changes.
Step 5: Take note of how the color looks in relation to other decor elements in the room, such as furniture, curtains, and wall art.

Testing a small area before painting the entire room can save you time, money, and the frustration of being stuck with a color you don’t like. Remember to consider all the factors before making a final decision on the color and finish of your oil-based paint.

Observe in Natural Light

Once you have painted a small area to test the color of your oil-based paint, it is important to observe it in natural light to ensure that it is the right shade for your home. Natural light can greatly affect how a color looks. Here are some tips you can follow while observing the color of your oil-based paint in natural light:

  • Check at different times of the day: Different times of the day bring different types of natural light. Early morning light is cooler, while light in the late afternoon is warmer. You should observe your paint color at different times of the day to ensure that it looks good in all types of natural light.
  • Observe the color outdoors: Bring a small amount of the paint color outside and observe it in natural light. You can even paint a small area on an inconspicuous part of the exterior of your home to see how it looks in natural light.
  • Consider the direction of natural light: Different directions of natural light can affect the color of your oil-based paint. West-facing rooms receive warmer light, while east-facing rooms receive cooler light. Observe your paint color in natural light specific to the location where you will be using it.

Observing your oil-based paint color in natural light can ensure that you are happy with the shade that you have chosen and that it will look great in your home.


After carefully considering the color palette, the room size, lighting, and existing elements, as well as selecting the appropriate finish, it is important to test the chosen color before committing to painting the entire room. This can be achieved by painting a small area and observing it in both natural and artificial light to ensure the desired effect is achieved.

Selecting the right color of oil-based paint can be a daunting task, but by following these tips and taking the time to thoroughly consider all aspects, the perfect color and finish can be chosen for any home. Remember, a fresh coat of paint can completely transform a room and make it feel brand new. Therefore, it is important to choose carefully and take the time to ensure it is the right fit for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is choosing the right color of oil-based paint important?

Choosing the right color of oil-based paint is important because it can affect the overall look and feel of your space.

Can oil-based paint be used in any room?

Oil-based paint can be used in any room, but it is best suited for areas that have high traffic and areas that require durability.

How do I choose a color palette?

Start by considering the colors that already exist in your space and find a color palette that complements those colors.

What factors should I consider when thinking about lighting?

You should consider the amount and type of natural and artificial lighting in the room, as well as the time of day when the room is most used.

Why is it important to coordinate with existing elements?

Coordinating with existing elements in your room, such as furniture and decor, will help ensure that the overall look of the space is cohesive and visually pleasing.

What is a glossy finish?

A glossy finish is a shiny, reflective finish that is often used on surfaces that require a durable, waterproof finish, such as trim and cabinets.

What is an eggshell finish?

An eggshell finish is a flat finish that has a slight sheen to it. It is great for walls, as it is easy to clean and gives a smooth, even finish.

What is a matt finish?

A matt finish is a flat finish that does not reflect light. It is great for hiding imperfections on surfaces but is not as easy to clean as other finishes.

Why should I test the paint before painting a whole room?

Testing the paint before painting a whole room can help you ensure that you like the color and finish, and that it looks good in the lighting conditions of your space.

What should I look for when observing paint in natural light?

You should observe the paint at different times of the day to see how the color and finish look in different lighting conditions.


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