Painting expert Brian Santos says the key to testing paint samples is in the light. Read more in his new book, "Painting Secrets."
Q. What is the best way to try a color before you paint, and why does paint sometimes look different from the paint chips?
Brian Santos: You probably selected the color by looking at it under a different type or intensity of light than what's in your room. Sunlight, daylight, fluorescent light, halogen light, and incandescent light affect colors differently. So bring the sample card into the room you intend to paint and look at its several times during the day. See how the color looks using different kinds of artificial light before making a final decision.
To get an even better idea of what the color will look like in your room, purchase a small quantity of the paint and apply it to a white 24-x-30-inch foam-core board. When it's dry, you can move the board around the room, testing the paint in a variety of light conditions. Hold it vertically on the walls to view it. This method also lets you see how furniture and accessories in a room look when positioned against or next to a particular color.
When you've selected your color, cut an 8-1/2-x-11-inch piece from the foam-core board with your final color choice. Keep this sample with you when you shop to make it easier to match items to the paint.