Machines That Match Paint Colors ?


Old 07-10-07, 08:33 AM
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Machines That Match Paint Colors ?


Was just wondering about the machines, I guess they are called Photometers, that most paint stores now seem to have to match colors. The one where you put in a sample piece having the old color on it, and it cranks out the formula for the new paint mix.

How good are they in practice ? (will be trying to match an exterior house color)

Is it necessary to calibrate them often ?

Do they all use the same brand of machine, or are some acknowledged to be "better" than others in matching ? Any experiences in what the Benjamin Moore stores use ?

How do they match the "sheen" ? e.g., exterior paints (and I imagine interior also) come in everything from flat to real glossy. Do they match this characteristic also ?

Any thoughts on this would be most appreciated.

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Old 07-10-07, 10:09 AM
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I don't know a whole lot about the machine itself but have taken samples to the paint store many times to get them to match it. I know of no paint store that relies solely on the machine to make the match. IMO it is a good tool to get you started and then you can tweek the formula to get a perfect or near perfect match.

I don't know if the machine can help choose a gloss or not - I think this is always done by having a trained eye. This is also why you are more likely to get better results at a real paint store [with trained employees] than you will at a big box or other type store that sells paint as a sideline = poorly or untrained staff
Old 07-10-07, 01:45 PM
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I used to work in a Benjamin Moore paint store which had the equipment to do automated matches. From my experience using it is that results can vary drastically.

The machines do need to be calibrated and they come with a block which is placed in the machine for calibration. We didn't use the machine too often as its results were not reliable so we calibrated it every time we did use it. Ours did not match the sheen , that was done by eye. After working at the store for about 1 year I was able to produce far better matches then the machine could ever do.

Factors that will determine or influence the match are:

Size of the sample
What the sample is
Sheen of the sample
Is the sample a solid color or made up of multiple colors (fabric, etc)

How we did matches is we found the color sample in the fan deck that was the closest to the color and then tweaked the formula. Dried down a sample of the paint and compared it to the customers sample. Tweaked the paint some more and repeated this until it was satisfactory.

What I did use the machine for occasionally is to see what colors the machine says are close then I went to the color chip and could tell how far off it would be if I made the formula the computer spit out.

Is the paint you want to match oil based? If it is any match you make no matter how close will eventually yellow with time and at a different rate then the old paint. It may look good at first but given time the match may become more and more different.

For getting the best match I would go into the store or call the store and ask who at the store does the best color matches. It is a talent and some people have better skills than others. In any paint store there will be a varied amount of skills some people will be better with interior design while others at color matching. Where I was working everyone in the store knew who did the best color matches and consulted them frequently for hard to do matches. The best matches were done by 2 people who had both been in the paint buisness for 15+ years, its a skill that gets better with practice.

That was probably way more then you needed to know opinion is go with a human, go to a paint store with skilled people who have been in the buisness a long time, bring in a sample thats at least the size of a quarter but bigger if possible, get them to dry some of the matched paint directly on the sample, don't be afraid to tell them its not close enough and you would like it adjusted.

Good luck,

Old 07-10-07, 03:03 PM
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They are as pointed out above, decent for a 1st step. After that, a good paint store will "tweak" the result until a match is achieved.

A big box will follow forumla presented, mix and sell it to you.

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