Painting is one of few home projects that requires that you get your materials-purchase absolutely right the first time. When you order up paint, you're asking a store to make a highly unique product just for you. If the color's wrong, quality paint is so expensive that it's tough to write off the cost.
Imagining your room's intended paint color with an online paint visualizer is valuable and fun but a bit of the realism is lost. Paint colors on a screen look different from paint colors on a wall. Not to mention, rooms depicted on the online visualizers look nothing like those in your own home and uploading your room photos never seems to turn out well.
Applying liquid paint samples or affixing paint swatches to your walls—in addition to using online visualizers—is the best way to ensure that a paint really will work for you.
Paint samples often are not the actual paint that you would purchase in larger quantities. Paint manufacturers thin out the paint in samples, imbuing it with fewer solids that produce true paint build. Pigments are accurate, though.
Free and Paid Paint Samples and Swatches
Even before ordering paint samples from a specific paint company, you may want to check out Samplize. Samplize is not a paint company but a third-party provider that offers large paint samples from major paint companies. Samplize's current paint companies:
- Benjamin Moore
- Sherwin Williams
- Farrow & Ball
Two costs of sample paint are applied to 12-inch by 12-inch squares for a true look. Low-stick adhesive lets you apply the squares to your walls.
While you cannot order up a bespoke palette, boxes do come in pre-designed palettes such as blues, greens, grays, and more, that help you coordinate paint colors.
Behr and Glidden
You can find Behr and Glidden paint samples from Home Depot in-store or online in 8-ounce sizes. Free Behr and Glidden liquid paint samples are not available, but small color swatches as loose cards are free. For professional painters and designers, color fans displaying thousands of colors are available for purchase.
While Samplize doesn't represent Behr, Home Depot does offer Samplize.
Online or in store, Benjamin Moore offers pint sizes of liquid paint color samples for purchase from its collection of over 3,000 colors. Eight-inch-long paint swatches can be purchased for about $2 per swatch. You'll also find Benjamin Moore colors available on Samplize.
Country Chic Paint
Boutique paint company Country Chic Paint frequently runs free paint sample programs. Keep an eye on their site or on Facebook to catch these promotions when they occur.
Dunn Edwards will provide up to 100 free color cards from its selection of thousands of Perfect Palette colors. Plus, 8-ounce paint samples are available for purchase at Dunn Edwards' online store.
Dutch Boy's paint sample program offers you four times more paint than traditional 8-ounce samples with its Twist & Try quart samples. Platinum Plus and Forever paint both come in 8-ounce sizes. All are available for purchase.
Ecos Paints sells tidy little jars of paint samples (2 ounces) in three-packs. Samples are free (rebated) if you purchase one or more gallons of paint. Paint chips are available free.
Kelly Moore Paints will provide one free quart of sample paint if you order online. The order will not be fulfilled via the online request, though. You receive a coupon that you take to a Kelly Moore Paints store in participating areas.
PPG Paints provides large 8-inch by 8-inch color cards for free by request online. PPG is also part of the Samplize color sample card program.
Sherwin-Williams paint is sold at standalone Sherwin-Williams stores. Color To Go is the largest-sized paint sample available, producing around 75 square feet of coverage. Loose paint chips are available for free at Sherwin-Williams stores. Sherwin-Williams does not offer paint fans for free. Also, you can purchase large cards of Sherwin-Williams paint at Samplize.
Valspar paint is found at Lowe's Home Improvement stores and 8-ounce samples are available for purchase either in-store or online. Loose paint chips are available for free at Lowe's. Valspar does not offer paint fans for free.
How to Use a Paint Sample the Right Way
Paint samples come in either liquid form as testers or in solid form as swatches. Paint samples or testers are bottles of liquid paint ranging from 2 ounces to 8 ounces that are applied directly to your wall or to a piece of white foam board or scrap drywall.
Do not apply to bare cardboard, as this is too absorbent. Solid paint swatches are thick paper squares or rectangles representing paint colors. These come either loose or bound as palettes in graduated form.
Liquid paint samples allow you to use disposable foam brushes or rollers, or even real brushes, to apply sample paint to your walls. Create a coverage box with painter's tape and stay within that box as you apply the sample.
With 8-ounce paint samples, you have 1/16th of the volume of a gallon of paint. Since a gallon of paint typically covers 400 square feet, with an 8-ounce sample you can cover as much as 25 square feet. Read the instructions on the tester, as some paint samples only cover about 16 square feet.
For a one-wall application such as an accent wall, you will be able to create a 5-foot by 5-foot square of test paint. For entire rooms, it is beneficial to coat all four walls because of shifting natural light during the day and artificial light at night. This amounts to about 6 1/4 square feet of test paint per wall (each square would be 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet).