How to pick the best shade of gray and which grays are most stylish?
Gray is now the most popular color for paint…in fact, it has surpassed white! If you look at Sherwin William’s Top 50 paint shades, the #1 shade is a gray! In fact, among the top 50 paint shades, 20 of them are gray. And, if you look at the color wheel, you’ll see there are tons of grays. But, how do you know the right gray to use?
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Why is gray so popular?
Cool tones are in style, while warm tones have become less popular over the last decade. This seems to be true both for floors and walls. For hardwood floors, dark floors are by far the most popular and continue to rapidly grow. And, gray naturally goes with dark wood floors. It’s hard to say which came first – the gray walls or the dark floors – it’s kind of like a chicken and egg phenomenon. But, they are growing hand and hand.
Related article: Dark vs Light hardwood. Pros and Cons.
What’s been interesting is over the last 3 years or so, even when customers have light floors, they are also choosing gray for their paint color. It just seems to work, especially for those that are using a water borne poly (see the best brands of polyurethane here). Bona Traffic HD has been rapidly rising in popularity as it’s lighter, paler and less yellow (again, the desire for cooler tones and avoidance of warm colors).
For our painting customers, we have found that 80% prefer cool tones, while only 20% prefer warm tones. Warmer tones are made with oranges, yellows and reds. They remind us of heat and the sun. They tend to make rooms cozier and more intimate. They tend to make spaces look smaller.
Cooler tones include blues, grays, greens, light purples (or mixtures of that include these undertones). They are more soothing and calming. They remind us of the sky and water. Cooler tones tend to recede and hence make spaces look larger.
Gray is both chic and neutral. So, it’s super easy to decorate with. It goes with almost everything. It’s the new neutral. Years ago, it was beige, but beige has become a bit boring. Most homeowners, especially those that focus on style, opt for the trendier and more stylish gray.
Most popular shades of gray in Westchester County
As a general rule, going lighter gray (rather than darker) tends to look better. It gives a fresh and airy look without making your space look too dark. We help our customers with paint color selection (via a free color consultation – see more below). We know that choosing the paint shade is one of the most common fears among painting customers. Most homeowners don’t have experience or confidence in selecting the right shade. That’s where we provide extra value.
If you walk into a home and you’re super impressed with the paint color selection, chances are that they they had a design expert assist them in the process. Most painters just ask the homeowner which paint color they want to use. But, at WOW 1 Day Painting, we go the extra mile and consult with our customers. We treat them like clients because we want them to be thrilled with their painting job. We even give them free samples to test the colors in their own home…because the paint can look different on the walls than on the paint swatch…and it can look different in different lighting, and different times of the day and on different walls, so definitely test using the samplers.
So, I thought I’d share our learning with you from helping hundreds and hundreds of customers on selecting the RIGHT gray for their homes. These are our 4 most popular grays…the ones we love, and based on tons of consumer feedback, what they like the best.
We generally use Sherwin Williams paint, because their paint is outstanding quality and also reasonably priced, so these are our top picks for Sherwin Williams Grays. Sherwin Williams is available nationwide. (We use Benjamin Moore as well, but it’s more of a regional brand).
1. Gray Screen – SW7071
Gray Screen is actually Sherwin Williams’ #1 color. It’s a cool gray with blue undertones and it’s exquisite. It’s light, too so it goes really well with dark hardwood floors and almost all types of furniture. Another reason Gray Screen is so popular is that has several coordinating darker grays that are great for accent walls (you can read more about accent colors below).
2. Silverpointe – SW7653
Silverpointe is probably our most popular gray. It’s also a light gray, but this shade has some light green undertones for a cool, but slightly warmer look vs Gray Screen. It’s light and neutral, so it’s also great with dark hardwood. And, if you have light hardwood, Silverpointe tends to complement the light floors a bit better due to it’s taupy undertones (taupe = gray + green), so this is technically a mixture of gray and taupe.
3. Comfort Gray – SW6205
Comfort Gray is a tad darker than either Silverpointe or Gray Screen. It has some aqua and light green undertones reminds me of sea surf or the Mediterranean. The color right next to it on Sherwin Williams’ color wheel is Sea Salt
4. Agreeable Gray – SW7029
Agreeable gray is a gray with brown undertones (and some very subtle yellow undertones). It works well when you room has a mixture of grays and browns. Even though it has some brown and yellow undertones, it reads as gray.
5. Light French Gray – SW0055
Light French Gray is what I would classify as a gray gray. It’s from their historic classics line and it’s what I would call more of a pure color. In my opinion, it’s pure gray. I hope that makes sense.
Please note that the exact gray you select may vary from this. Different grays work in different homes based on your lighting, your floors, your furniture/area rugs and your taste. All of these grays are neutral and on the light side. As a result, they will work in most homes and I feel that you can’t go wrong with any of them.
If you are planning to do a gray accent wall, your gray color selection will be even more critical (see below).
Oh, and Sherwin Williams has a very useful app that allows you to select colors, as well as visualize those colors in your room. It’s called ColorSnap and it’s available for iphones, androids, ipads and there’s web version you can use on your computer.
When you look at each of the above samples in isolation, they each look gray. But, there are subtle differences, and they become more obvious when you place them together as you can see in this collage. Remember, you need to test these on your walls…the colors will look different in different lighting and can vary based on your floor color and time of day. They can also look different on different walls. So, test test test.
And, remember, in the end, you will only have 1 paint color, so don’t worry about how the paints looks next to each other. Only worry about what you like and what looks good in your home. It may help you if you use white pieces of paper to look at the swatches on your wall separately.
Best type of finish for gray walls
In general, I’d recommend doing a flat finish for gray walls (as well as other colors). Flat finish is the most stylish (and often when you see paint that looks cheap or dated it’s an eggshell or glossier finish. Flat finishes look up to date and they also hide imperfections in the wall better. (If your walls are less smooth or have imperfections, it will show more the glossier you go…as the glossier finishes reflect light more and highlight the issues you may have in your walls).
The challenge with many flat finishes is that they are less wipeable, and this is a key concern especially among households with younger kids and/or pets. The glossier you go, the easier it is to wipe things off, but the more dated your walls look. Thankfully, Sherwin Williams has a wonderful line that solves this dilemma. Their Duration line allows you to have a flat finish that is also wipeable. It’s more expensive, but completely worth it.
How to choose a darker gray accent wall
Accent walls have become trendy and in the right shaped room, they can look awesome. (I’m going to write a separate article on that soon). When you want to do an accent wall in the same color family (e.g. light gray/dark gray), Sherwin Williams makes it easy, if you use their color wheel.
Basically, you want to look at the grays on the same color strip and then go at least 2 shades deeper (i.e. darker). Generally 2-4 shades darker will work and on some strips you can go up to 5 shades darker. (It will vary a bit vs the color you select. The one thing you DON’T want to do is pick something that is 1 shade darker. If you do this, it will usually look like you made a mistake. Instead, be purposeful and make sure there enough of a contrast.
Here are some contrasting shades for the most popular grays we use for accent walls
- Gray Screen (SW7071) coordinates well with Network Gray (SW7073), African Gray (SW9162) Software (SW7074)
- Silverpointe (SW7653) coordinates well with Ellie Gray (SW7650) or Stamped Concrete (SW7655)
- Comfort Gray (SW6205) coordinates well with Acacia Haze (SW9132) or Retreat (SW6207)
- Agreeable Gray (SW7029) coordinates well with Mega Griege (SW7031) or Keystone Gray (SW7504)
Are you ready to paint your home in Westchester County?
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- 2018 Hardwood Flooring Trends
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- Dark vs Light Hardwood Flooring
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- Decorating rooms with dark floors and gray walls
What are the most popular shades of gray paint? Westchester County, NY