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Understanding how your paint’s LRV value affects room tone

Have you ever painted a room, but the paint on the wall didn’t turn out the way you expected?

It might not have been your paint’s color, but its LRV value.

LRV – light reflective value — is a number that indicates how much light is reflected by your paint color. This value represents a percentage of the reflected light. A solid black paint that reflects no light has an LRV of 0%, whereas a bright white paint that reflects all light is rated at 100%.

The way you feel when you walk into a room is important, whether it’s your home office where you work every day, the kitchen you love to cook and entertain in, or the entryway that greets your guests or potential buyers.

Lighter paint colors have higher LRV values — greater than 50% — and therefore reflect more light than darker shades. This makes them a great choice for areas where you’d like to use less artificial lighting. Rather than go to extremes such as taking down walls between rooms or adding windows, a trick of the trade to make your rooms light and bright is to paint your walls with paint that has a high LVR value.

The back of your paint chip card has information about your paint color, including its LRV value, or you can look up the LRV online.

Darker shades absorb more light rather than reflecting it and also absorb warmth. This makes them good economical choices for rooms that tend to be chilly, but the lack of reflected light can also mean that additional artificial lighting is needed.

The amount and type of light a room gets can greatly affect the way your paint color appears. The same paint color will look very different in a room that gets a lot of natural light than it does in an artificially lighted room. Natural light tends to make the color appear lighter and brighter.

To get an accurate idea of what a particular paint will look like in your room, try painting a few sample swatches on different walls and different heights, then check out the results at various times of day. You might find that light gray paint you loved at the hardware store looks pink in one spot and blue in another, or that it appears much lighter or darker than the look you were hoping to achieve.

To learn more about how to choose the right paint color to ready your house for sale, contact


Kim Foemmel

Foemmel Fine Homes

1 Lumber Street, Suite 207C

Hopkinton, MA 

(508) 808-1149

[email protected]

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