White Paint Color – Best and Fool Proof

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White paint color, stairway molding , woven bench with large vase with stems on the floor next to bench, hardwood floors
Behr Ultra Pure White

Bench | Vase

Pure White Paint Color

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, what white paint color I have in my house. This might sound controversial because my view is very different from that of many designers out there. My recommendation is for a white paint that is as pure as possible and has the least amount of undertones. Some low undertone paint colors are Sherwin Williams Pure White and Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. I (almost) always use Behr Ultra Pure White paint from Home Depot. It is the unmixed base color right off the shelf and it has no undertones.

product photo of Behr paint and primer in one

When there is a lot of surface to cover, I like to go with the most economical option and that’s why I choose Behr. Behr Ultra Pure White also has the least amount (if not none) of undertones. It is as close to pure white as can be. I recently learned that other brands’ base paint colors are not as pure white as the Behr brand. In an unfortunate turn of events, my contractor painted our new bathroom in a Sherwin-Williams base paint color that had a strong grey undertone.

White Paint for Cabinetry

When it comes to the cabinets I build, I do opt for high-quality specialty paint. I always use Sherwin Williams Urethane Trim Enamel paint in semi-gloss. If I’m painting white, I leave it untainted which is called Hi Hide White.

White paint color, fireplace builtins, shelf decor
Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in Hi Hide White, Semi-Gloss

Brass pulls | Brass knobs | Candle holders | Picture light

Other White Paints

I did make an exception when I painted the guest bedroom with Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore (mixed in Behr paint). That was an experiment on my part to see if using a tinted white would create much of a difference. The verdict – it does not. At least to my eye. Here it is below:

White paint color, bedroom decor, guest bedroom with white upholstered bed, black nightstand, lamp, neutral bedding, Loloi rug on hardwood floors
Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace in Eggshell

Bed | Nightstand | Rug | Lamp | Throw Blanket

White Paint Appears Different In Different Conditions

What all white paints have in common is that they will look different in different rooms – based on lighting conditions and the color of the items you put in the room. White paint is highly reflective so the colors in the room will bounce off of it and contribute to how the color is perceived. Choosing paint with little to no undertones prevents this unpredictable reaction between existing colors in the room and undertones. Painting a room in pure white won’t make it look stark white and clinical unless …

White paint color, tufted upholstered bed, wood nightstand, large cereamic lamp
Behr Ultra Pure White in Eggshell

Bed (similar) | Lamp | Nightstand

Artificial Light Temperature Affects White Wall Color

If you paint your room pure white color, the temperature of the lights in the room will affect the tone of the paint color. Warm white light – 2700K – will create a more natural and warm tone effect. If you go with anything higher than 3000K, the white paint will read cool and clinical. It will be reminiscent of the cool fluorescent lights synonymous with hospitals and institutions.

In our dining room, I used Behr Ultra Pure White as well. Here’s an example of that:

White paint color, dining room with wall molding, side board with decor, wall sconce
Behr Ultra Pure White

Sideboard | Sconce | Vase | Artwork | Dining table | Dining chair | Trinket Dish

So I have decided to always use the same paint and that helps me streamline the painting process. It’s cheaper because I can continue to use leftover cans. I don’t have to remember what room was painted in what color and keep samples on hand. It’s just easier to keep track.

When we finished our basement, we used professional painters to paint the entire space. They worked with Sherwin Williams paint only so I had to go with SW Pure White. Read my SW Pure White Review to see how it stacks up against the other white colors in my home.

basement painted pure white, arched niche with woven cabinet, grind gallery wall, vase with stems, LVP floors
Sherwin Williams Pure White in Flat

Paint Walls and Trim the Same White Color

If you decide to paint your walls white, whether you go with a pure white or one of the tinted whites, make sure to paint your trim the same color. If you don’t, the color that’s closer to pure white will appear white, while the other color will show whatever undertone it has – blue, green, yellow, etc. It may look white on its own but when it’s right next to a whiter white, it won’t look so white anymore. Paint everything the same white color but choose different sheens for trim vs wall.

White walls with molding, Everett console table with decor including black ceramic lamp, vases, wall art, decorative box, wood bead garland
Behr Ultra Pure White in Satin Enamel

Paint Sheens

Paint sheens range from very flat or matte to gloss. Flat paint looks good and it disguises surface imperfections but it will also show any marks or fingerprints as soon as anyone even thinks about touching the walls (looking at you kids!) Flat paint also is not wipeable. Higher sheen (more gloss) paint, on the other hand, is very wipeable but because of its highly reflective surface, it highlights even the slightest imperfections in your drywall – bumps, nicks, repair spots, seams, etc. It’s great for trim because those surfaces are usually very smooth and they also require frequent wiping. These are my recommendations for paint sheens.

  • Ceilings: Flat
  • Walls: Eggshell
  • Trim and walls with molding on them: Satin
  • Trim by itself and doors: Semi-gloss
entry painted ultra pure white with wall molding, black front door with window, wreath on door, small entry table, hardwood floors
Behr Ultra Pure White in Satin Enamel

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    1. Thank you! I agree – plenty of color to draw from for the textiles and accessories.

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