Vol 5 No. 51 - September 7, 2005

Choosing paint in the electronic age
By Louise Bolger

In our electronic age, you can point and click your way to obtain information on just about any aspect of life, so why should choosing paint on the internet be such a revelation? For one thing, it’s tons of fun.

Gone are the days of one inch paint samples obtained from your local hardware store or paint dealer. Oh, you can still get these, but why would you when you can literally try colors on for size in dozens of virtual rooms? Or better still, download digital photos of your rooms and try different color combinations. Trust me, this more fun than the doll house you got on your seventh birthday.

Painting is time consuming work, and since a recent survey by the Ace Hardware chain determined that 83 percent of homeowners questioned did their own painting, it’s important to get it right the first time. Choosing the perfect color can be the toughest part of the job. Colors that look just right on a color chip can look awful when splashed across the living room wall.

To meet the needs of consumers, paint makers are retiring color chips in favor of much larger swatches. Some are even selling small pots or packets that hold enough paint to cover several square feet. But the real innovative change in choosing paint colors are the online services available.

Sherwin-Williams (sherwin-williams.com) has their Color Visualizer which allows consumers to try dozens of colors on virtual rooms. You have several different rooms and up to nine different styles to choose from. Pick the layout that best fit your home, and start trying on wall and trim colors. You can even do this with exterior paint color by choosing a style home similar to yours.

And if that isn’t enough fun, try Benjamin Moore (benjaminmoore.com). They offer a Color Makeover Program with experts making free color recommendations based on photographs of rooms to be painted. For a fee, they also have a Personal Color Viewer. Consumers can test various colors to find the ideal choice by pasting a photograph of their room into the program.

Another new aspect to the competitive paint business are boutique paint companies. These companies offer a smaller selection of designer colors for $10 to $15 more per gallon, or more for some imported products. Devine Color, Ellen Kennon of Louisiana, Ralph Lauren, Fine Paints of Europe and Farrow & Ball are just some of the small exclusive paint companies. They all have web-sites and some very interesting and rich colors available.

These companies claim they have superior ingredients that make paint look better and last longer, in addition to sophisticated color palettes. Although boutique paint companies have a smaller array of hues to choose from, many people find it easier to find the right color when your choices are limited.

Painting fun? I never thought so – until I started to point and click, now I can’t wait for the next project, after all choosing the color IS the hardest part.

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