The color of clouds, a fresh layer of snow, white chalk, the color white seems so simple and pure, doesn’t it? However, when you try to translate that to paint, it is not that simple. Choosing the wrong shade can be a very costly mistake, so it is vitally important to study all aspects of the white colors you are considering using to ensure you choose the perfect shade both for your personal taste and for the elements that surround your home. Each shade of white will vary depending on your home’s location and how much sunshine you get. Whichever shades you are considering, take them into the direct sunlight of your lot to see precisely what undertones you see in your area. While there are more shades of white than I could ever begin to dissect, I am going to analyze my favorites one company at a time. Though some people find painting a strenuous, tedious task, my husband LOVES to paint! He says he finds it therapeutic, so I am happy to provide as much relaxation as he needs! In all his years of painting, Sherwin Williams is the brand he uses most often, so I am going to begin with them. Because I decided to focus on four shades from each company, I did have to take Oyster White off of this list, but I will give it an honorable mention. As a warm white, it is stunning on painted brick and looks very beautiful with bronze roofs and brown accents. Now on to my four top white shades from Sherwin Williams: Extra White, Snowbound, Alabaster, and Pure White.
Extra White: If white is good, then extra white is better, right? Well, it depends on the look you desire. Extra White is a very stark, crisp, clean white with very subtle cool undertones. You can see on the sample board above that Extra White is easily the brightest white. This is the white you want if you want the description "stark white" used when describing your home! If you are familiar with the LRV or Light Reflectance Value of paint, Extra White is an 85, meaning it has very little tint in it.
Extra White Farmhouse from @Modfarmhouse_on_ridge
Snowbound: This one is more of a crisp, off-white than the others. It has more of a greige undertone that allows it to be crisp and cool without being stark. It has a slightly cooler undertone than Alabaster and is not nearly as creamy. Snowbound has an LRV of 83, and when you finish reading about Alabaster, I think you can see this difference in the sample board.
Snowbound Farmhouse from @ourhamptonhouse
Alabaster: Of these four shades, Alabaster looks the most off-white, but it is not. It is soft but not creamy, think of it as a crisp, warm white. This is the color probably most popular for the fact Joanna Gaines used it in her kitchen! It has no sharp edges, and while it has a drop of warmth and beige undertones, it does not come across as yellow. Alabaster has an LRV of 82 meaning it has the most tint of the four, but it is still very soft and understated. By the way, I searched all four of these colors on Instagram, and this one had the most #s by far!
Alabaster Farmhouse from @MeredithTeasley
Pure White: This name sounds so perfect, doesn’t it? This shade of white has a crisp, clean look that is just dreamy in soft light, think the hour before sunset. Pure White is the purest shade of white of these four. It has just the tiniest drop of warmth in it which sets it apart from the crispness of Extra White but also differentiates it from the creaminess found in Alabaster and Snowbound. This shade has an LRV of 85 which means, just like Extra White, it has very little tint in it. However, Extra White’s drop of tint is more of a cool blue whereas Pure Whites is more of a warm hue. Pure White was the second most popular # on Instagram.
Pure White Exterior from @BarrowBuildingGroup
So, are you thoroughly confused now? I truly hope not! I’ll be honest; though I knew there were differences, the first time I looked at paint cards at the store, I could not differentiate between the colors! Not until I actually saw them painted out, side by side on my sample board, could I really understand the differences, and I hope the sample board helps you the same way. If you want to make your own sample board, make sure you use a primed board. I used a piece of shoe molding; however, any primed board will work. If you try this on an unprimed board, you can put ten coats of each, and they will still look the same! Use at least two coats of paint, letting them dry thoroughly. Then take your board and walk around your house or the lot where you are building. See how the whites reflect in the lighting from the sun and surrounding elements such as trees, clay, grass, and water. Make sure you look at different times of the day, so you will see how it reflects at different times. Which of these four is your favorite? If you have seen the house I am building on Instagram, which one would you suggest I choose? Let me know below! I will be covering my favorite Benjamin Moore white’s soon, so make sure to be on the lookout!