Who Did it Best?

Remember paint by numbers? It made the process of creating something beautiful, easy. At least those kits made my five year old self feel pretty artistic. Painting a wall should be less challenging, and yet it’s not. We have sheens to contend with, shadows, and a whole lot of doubt that it will turn out the way it looks on the swatch deck or in the photo of a favorite issue of House Beautiful. Add to that the cost of paint and one’s desire to save a few dollars on the gallons that will grace those walls and you’ve added a whole other layer of complication.

I’ve tried and failed to match a Farrow & Ball to a Ben Moore in the past. It led this weekend to a debate about whether or not it was possible to get an accurate match from the store. It was too nice out to argue, but it did leave me thinking, is it really achievable? My research led to me a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion. Yes, and No.

Formulas are the result of years of research, and deliver colors that are trademarked with aspects that are kept hidden from even those on the dark web. Most tools used, like databases, compiled over years, and spectrometers are only about 90% accurate. This can be attributed to a lack of patience – understandable – who wants to wait 24 hours or more to ensure the paint is fully cured and the color is true, only to discover it’s not and to begin the process anew – a lack of consistency in finishes from maker to maker which impacts the reflectiveness of the paint, and for lack of a clearer answer to why it can’t be matched – each maker utilizes that “je ne sais quoi”? That unknown quality. Maybe it’s spit?

As I prepare to head down to the hardware store to mix another round or two, I go with the knowledge that I am likely not going to be walking away with my Parma Gray by F & B look alike, so I better get liking something that is close enough. The builder is waiting for my paint name, and if I don’t provide it today, I will lose my place in the cue, and we all know, that won’t due.

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