The Cheesecake Factory Effect, ever heard of it? It’s when you look at their menu and you’re overwhelmed with number of options thus you become paralyzed with indecision. You either take forever to decide and still wonder if it was the right choice OR you stick with what’s already super familiar to you because you don’t want to be let down. That’s kind of how I felt when it came to picking out the perfect white paint, but I polled my Instagram audience, consulted with a few home builder friends and put together this condensed list of the most popular tried & true paint colors from three major paint brands.
While there were well over 10+ different brands submitted (like Farrow & Ball, Clare Paint, Valspar, etc.), I decided to stick with three most popular brands, Behr, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams because, well, the Cheesecake Factory Effect, of course, but also because these brands are easily found nationwide and they provide quality coverage at an affordable price.
PAINT SWATCH TIPS:
Before diving into the paint colors, I want to give you some tips for sampling paint colors in your own home:
- Use a transparent sheet stuck to your wall to test your paint colors. Whether it already has an adhesive backing or you need to apply a little painter’s tape to make it stick, painting on a clear sheet on top of your current paint color will save you time, money and labor from having to cover up any of the paint colors you don’t like AND you can move the sample around to test it against other colors in the room like on door trim, furniture, etc. I prefer to use Glad’s Press ‘n Seal, because it’s cheap and paint adheres well to the material. I just rip off a square (or longer sheet if I want to test out a larger sample size) and stick it to the wall with a few pieces of tape to ensure it stays on the wall. When you decide that a color is off your list, just peel it up and throw it away!
- Always, always view your paint swatches during various times of the day and in different lighting scenarios. You may love a color a few minutes after you apply it during the day, but then after it dries at night, it looks like a totally different color. Watch and wait at least 24 hours before selecting your final paint color.
- Consider the current wall paint color’s undertones, especially when you are painting a lighter color, like white, over a darker color. One coat may not be enough to provide coverage or it may cover just fine, but still shows the previous color’s undertones. It will help knowing the difference between cool and warm colors, as well as basic complimentary colors if your goal is to neutralize a space.
- Lastly, learn your paint finishes/sheens. I created a guide for a previous blog post, but I’ll include it here, too. If you’re painting a wall in a non-high moisture area, go with eggshell.
LIGHT REFLECTANCE VALUE
A color’s light reflectance value or “LRV” measures the amount of visible light that reflects a painted surface. So, for example, an LRV of 0 would be the blackest black color and an LRV of 100 would be the whitest white color.
When you’re considering a white paint color, you not only need to think of how light or dark it is, but also the temperature of the color, whether it is warm, cool or neutral. Warm whites look like white paint with a drop of red, orange or yellow mixed in. Cool whites look like white paint with a drop of green, blue or purple mixed in. And neutral whites are just that, right in the middle of the temperature “thermometer”, neither leaning warm or cool. That’s the easiest way I can explain it, but look at this color wheel below and you’ll get a better idea of warm and cool tones. Although you can still have “warm” blues and “cool” yellows, for the sake of white paint, I’m sticking with it leaning more yellow/warm or more blue/cool.
TOP WHITE PAINTS – BEHR
On the Behr website, you can explore their white paints and even see if they lean more warm or cool and you can also see which paints have the Marquee One Coat Coverage guarantee. The sample size for Behr paint is an 8 oz. jar and it usually costs anywhere between $3 and $4 dollars. This is the paint I use the most.
Ultra Pure White – Dubbed the truest white paint that’s ready made, it has an LRV of 94. It’s bright, it’s white and leans ever so slightly on the cool side. It’s what I use on all my handmade signs. You don’t even need to go to the paint counter to have it mixed because this is the base that they use to mix other paint colors. If they don’t have the finish (flat, eggshell, satin, etc.) you want readily available, you will have to get that mixed.
White – A bit darker than Ultra Pure White, Behr’s “White” has an LRV of 83 and is ever so slightly on the cooler side, as well.
Swiss Coffee – Swiss Coffee has an LRV of 84 which means it’s just one number lighter than Behr’s “White”, but it is MUCH warmer and has an almost cream color (hence the name, I suppose.)
Polar Bear – Polar Bear has an LRV of 90 and is a pretty, neutral white with a very slight peachy undertone like a polar bear’s fur.
Bit of Sugar – This color has an LRV 89 and is a true neutral white, not too warm and not too cold. If I were to have only looked at the paint swatches on the card, this is the color I would’ve used on my walls, but once I swatched it on my wall (previous color Revere Pewter), it wasn’t what I was going for.
Palais White – A creamy white with an LRV of 89, Palais White is one color recommended to me from a home builder who has used it in his homes.
TOP WHITE PAINTS – BENJAMIN MOORE
Simply White – Reminiscent of a first snowfall, this crisp white is multi-purpose. I sampled this on my walls and it was the most warmest of all the paints.
Chantilly Lace – By far, this was the most popular Benjamin Moore white paint color I received and I understand why. A quick Pinterest search will give you plenty of images featuring this beautiful white paint. It’s dubbed the “cleanest” white paint color with supposedly no cool or warm undertones and has an LRV of 92.
White Dove – LRV 85, it’s a classic, softly shaded white.
Decorator’s White – BM’s “Decorator’s White” reminds me a lot of Behr’s “White”. It leans slightly cool and has an LRV of 84.
Super White – Per the Benjamin Moore website, Super White is “inherently sophisticated and endlessly versatile” and I’d have to agree. It’s a lovely off-white with an LRV of 89.
Cloud White – Lightweight and luminous, this subtle, sophisticated shade of soft white is reminiscent of vapor clouds on a clear day. LRV of 87.
TOP WHITE PAINTS – SHERWIN WILLIAMS
High Reflective White – This color is one of the whitest from Sherwin Williams with an LRV of 93 and comes off as a very “clean” white. I’d compare it to Behr’s “Ultra Pure White.”
Greek Villa – Greek Villa is a soft off-white color with a subtle beige undertone. It’s the perfect white to warm up a space and make it feel nice and cozy. It has an LRV of 84.
Extra White – Another crisp clean white that creates a perfect backdrop for any room, Extra White has been featured in various showrooms. I think it leans a bit cool – it has an LRV of 86.
Snowbound – Snowbound is a true off-white and neutral color, not too warm, not too cold, just Goldilocks white. It has an LRV of 83.
Alabaster – Without a doubt, Alabaster was the number one recommendation given to me by my followers. I think it *may* have something to do with the fact that Joanna Gaines has used it in many of her homes on Fixer Upper as well as her very own Farmhouse. This color is a very warm off-white, dare I say really light beige. It has an LRV of 82.
Pure White – Although pure white is indeed not actually pure white, it is a safe go-to color in that it is a neutral, calming white that would appear to look good in any space. It has an LRV of 84
WHAT COLOR WHAT DID I CHOOSE?
While shopping for the perfect white paint, I wanted something that would warm up my living room without clashing too much against the existing crown molding since I was only painting one accent wall, I didn’t want to have to paint all of the molding and trim. If I did a bright white paint color, it would make the trim look yellowed and old comparatively so I made sure to test plenty of samples on my walls (well, on my Press ‘n Seal sheets.) I had to laugh when I read the name of the color that I finally decided upon…it was “White” by Behr. Yep, the name is just “White” and I can’t wait to get it up on the walls! Stay tuned for the Board & Batten Accent Wall & Photo Frame Accent Wall that will be featuring this color.
Nancy Mueller says
Love your blog, looking for a good cabinet color in white, not stalky but not yellow. Please advise
Ellison Made says
Thank you so much for being here! Great question, it can get very overwhelming when looking at white paints. I think what you’re describing would be found in the colors: Snowbound and Simply White. To see some more photos of these colors in kitchens, go here for Snowbound: https://www.houseofnomaddesign.com/blog/tag/snowbound and here for Simply White: https://somuchbetterwithage.com/simply-white-benjamin-moore-best-white-paint/ – DO keep in mind, as I mentioned in my post, paint in the can can vary wildly from paint on your wall depending on the lighting in your home, the base color underneath, as well as other items in the room that can reflect or influence the paint color. I always recommend my swatch tip of applying some Press n Seal on your wall and applying your paint onto it so there’s no mess, but you can get an idea of what it’ll look like throughout different times of the day. Good luck!
Nancy Mueller says
Thank you so much!!
Jorjann Kuypers says
I’m having my kitchen cabinets, trim and doors painted Behr’s Ultra Pure White. I cannot decide on a wall color, which I would like to be neutral. It’s a small condominium, so I what to keep the paint light but not a drab beige. Don’t want yellow or blue undertones. My furniture is dark green & natural colors. Completely at a loss for what to put on the walls. Thank you.
Ellison Made says
Choosing paint colors if such a conundrum. Our walls are BM “revere pewter” which, in my opinion, is the perfect neutral gray. Not too warm and not too cold. Just remember to swatch your walls and look at your options during all hours of the day and night before deciding. Good luck!
Jeff j Loflin says
The Behr White is actually called White 52, it is nearly identical to Ben Moore Decorators White. Great article!
Ellison Made says
Hey, thanks for that tip! It only said “White” on the card in store, so this is very helpful. I see it online here: https://www.behr.com/consumer/ColorDetailView/52/
Jeanette Bender says
I chose “Palais White” based on this post and am in love with my walls. I am however at a loss as to which color I should use for my trim, baseboards and crown molding. I also have many plantation shutters which have their own shade of “white”. Floors are honey oak hardwood and terracotta tiles in the kitchen (early 2000’s Tuscan style home, which I am updating to a clean modernized tuscan look) . Thank you!
Ellison Made says
Oh I am so happy to hear you found a white paint that you love. I wish you could post photos in comments so I could see it ❤️ Trim is always a tough one, but I stick with ultra pure white in satin. Sometimes you can even use the same paint color but by switching up the sheen, it sets it apart. Good luck and thanks for your comment.
Hi! If I am using Behr Ashen tan in my interior walls I am having trouble finding the white to go in the ceilings. I tried Frost and silky white samples but I am not convinced yet. Which other white do yo recommend that will coordinate with ashen tan interior walls??
Ellison Made says
Hi there, Laura! I have not personally ever used Behr’s Ashen Tan, however I stick with Behr’s Ultra Pure White Ceiling Flat Interior Paint made just for ceilings. Good luck!
so brilliant to paint onto a transparent sheet instead of right on the wall! Why did I never think of this haaa…I always want to test every paint color on each wall so I can see how it will look when lighting hits parts of a room differently. Now I can just move the swatch around…thank you for that tip!
Ellison Made says
Haha, right? Thank you! I saw these transparent swatch sheets for sale in the big box store… I went home and contemplated saran wrap, but press & seal is easier to work and I’ve never looked back. Glad you found this helpful, thanks for the comment!