Choosing the perfect paint color is a daunting process. How do you know if the ideal shade of white paint for your walls should have warm or cool undertones? Do you use an all-in-one paint and primer? Which level of sheen will look best in your space? Although the only way to know for sure is to actually test the color on your walls, the idea of swatching causes anxiety if you don't know where to start. To help narrow the paint selection process, we turned to the pros at Benjamin Moore for expert guidance on navigating the paint aisle.
However, rather than asking the pros questions at random, we put out a call for pressing paint inquiries via Instagram, and as expected, our curious, trend-setting followers did not disappoint. Ahead, Andrea Magno, a Benjamin Moore color and design expert, answers all your burning paint questions, including which of the brand's 140 shades of white paint stand out from the rest, how to seamlessly mix and match paint finishes, and how to select a shade of paint that makes a small room look bigger.
Meet the Expert
Andrea Magno is a Benjamin Moore color and design expert. She is involved in color and design research that leads to new directions in paint color.
What are the best shades of white paint?
"With a wide variety of whites to choose from, Benjamin Moore offers more than 140 white options that range from warm to cool, pink and peach, to green and blue."
Shop some of Magno's favorites below.
What are Benjamin Moore's bestselling shades of white paint?
"White Dove OC-17 and Simply White OC-117 are Benjamin Moore's best-selling shades of white paint."
Should I use an all-in-one paint and primer?
"Applying a primer is an important step, especially if you are painting a new surface. Primer seals the substrate (walls, wood trim, etc.) to allow for best performance of the topcoat. If your walls are already painted and are in good condition, Benjamin Moore products are self-priming, so using a separate primer is not necessary. However, in specific circumstances like painting a light color over a dark color or painting over paint that is more than eight years old, you should use a separate primer."
What is the perfect white paint for a living room?
"There are many excellent white options for living rooms, including Simply White OC-117, Cloud White OC-130, Chantilly Lace OC-65, and Cotton Balls OC-122. Each option is quite neutral, so these are whites that pair well with many other colors and can be enhanced by a play on sheen level. For example, select one white that can be used with different sheens, such as an eggshell on the walls and a high gloss on the trim. Each surface will have a slightly different look due to reflectance, even though it is one color—the look is subtle and sophisticated."
What are the ideal shades of white for a room that doesn't get a lot of natural light?
"A few favorite whites that will work well in a room that does not have abundant natural light are Cloud White OC-130, Frostine AF-15, White Dove OC-17, or Swiss Coffee OC-45. Also, use artificial lighting to your advantage as well, as this will help to compensate for the lack of natural light and can add warmth to the overall space."
When painting walls white, is it best to use the same color on the trim too?
"Using multiple whites in one space with differences in finish can create an elegant and layered look—making white anything but boring. Think about using a high-gloss finish on the trim, millwork, and doors offset by a matte or eggshell finish on the walls. Or achieve a subtle glow with a stain finish that will enhance the reflectance in the space from both artificial and natural light."
What's the best paint color for a dark bedroom?
"The common knowledge around darker rooms is that light colors work best, but mid-tone and deeper colors can work very well too. If a pale color is desired, select one that works well with the limited light in the room. For instance, if there is a small amount of north-facing light (probably why the room feels dark), using a cooler color will work best with the light. For example, a color such as Woodlawn Blue HC-147, Edgecomb Gray HC-173, or Wickham Gray HC-171 would be pretty choices."
Which paint colors can make a small bedroom look bigger?
"There are different approaches to take when aiming to make a small bedroom appear bigger. First, it is important to keep in mind that warm colors tend to advance, while cooler colors visually recede. So if a light and airy look is the goal, using a pale color in the green, blue, or violet color families will work well. Mid-tone and deeper colors should not be ruled out, especially if the other furnishings and fabrics in the room are light. By creating balance between dark and light, the corners of the room will not be as prominent, and it can give the sense of a larger space."
What's the best type of paint to use in the bathroom?
"A paint that will stand up to humidity and maintain color is best for rooms with a lot of moisture, like a bathroom. Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa repels moisture and resists mildew for a look that will remain fresh."