same oil and water based paint colour looks different

16 Nov 2005
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United Kingdom
A while back I had all my architraves and doors replaced with new ones. I repainted all the door frames using Dulux water based satinwood paint. However, since this paint was difficult to use (because it is so quick drying), I decided to use Dulux oil based satinwood for the doors which I just completed this weekend.

I assumed that both finishes would look the same colour since they were both described as "Pure Brilliant White". However, the oil based stuff looks more like something between white and cream and you can really tell the difference between the doors and the frames (ie, slightly creamish/yellowish door vs. white frame). Is this normal or could I have got a dud can of paint?

The wife isn't happy about it and is bending my ear to repaint the frames so they match the doors. All this after I was celebrating yesterday after finishing all the painting :cry:

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White tint bases will dry to slightly different colours, and that's true for tint bases of different chemistries (alkyd vs. emulsion) and from different paint companies (and even for different gloss levels within the same company and chemistry).

So, if you took a white alkyd tint base and a white emulsion tint base and had them tinted to the same tint formula, then the resulting colors will be slightly different because you started with two slightly different colors.

The tint formulas for every color will differ depending on the tint base to compensate for that difference in color. So, if instead of having two tint bases tinted to the same tint formula, you simply took a colour swatch to the paint store and said "I want a can of alkyd paint and a can of emulsion paint in this color (and such and such gloss level), then different tint formulas would have been used for each can to compensate for their difference in colour so that the resulting paint would be identical in colour.

And if it's not, then what I'd do is contact either the paint store because I expect they may have mis-tinted one (or both perhaps) of the cans. If they tell you something different, then look on the can for a Dulux Customer Service phone number and contact the company. If tinted to the same colour swatch, different white tint bases will use different tint formulas to arrive at the color of that swatch.

The big problem is that our eyes are exquisitely sensitive to color, and we're able to notice very slight changes in color when viewed side by side. Officially, paint companies will advise people to "box" their paints (meaning basically to blend them together) to eliminate even the tiny statistical variation in colour that result when the same person tints different gallons to the same tint formula, but few people ever do.

(Perhaps the only people that box white paint are Japanese pearl sorters who can sort pearls that are all "Pearl White" into a dozen different shades of "Pearl White".)
Plus you have the reflectence value of the paint...that will have a bearing...the flatter the paint the deeper the colour looks.

Ever notced on the side of building that been painted over areas where some paint has flaked off revealing a rougher surface below...the stuff thats left on always looks lighter...even though its all the same colour...thats the way the light bounces off it...the smoother surface.

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