Colour Matching – Why Patience is Paramount        [18.10.10]


  • Beware-colour matching can drive you crazy!
  • What we ask of our customers (besides patience!) is to provide a good sample of the colour they would like to match; if stain, then a reasonable supply of the actual wood that is to be stained.
  • Why matching colours is tricky- think of it for a moment; there is, in theory, an almost infinite number of colours, shades, tones etc.  While basic colour theory can be helpful, it can only take you so far.  Industrial pigments and dyes don’t come in “basic” colours, but instead we work with such exotically named pigments as “burnt umber” and  “red oxide” all of which are variations of prime colours.
  • How do we do it?  This is where patience and experience are key.  While the process appears to be simple, just adding a little of this and a little of that, in reality the process can become quite comlex.   Unlike retail paint stores who use a volume-based approach (those familiar cylindrical pigment dispensing machines), we weigh all our pigments and dyes to an accuracy of 1/100th of a gram.  This ensures that we can accurately replicate a given formula in the future.  When developing an initial colour match, we record the weights in our computer files.  The resulting “formula” then becomes part of our colour data base that includes literally thousands of colours.
  • What can go wrong?  Barring mixing errors (we double check everything but we are human!):
    • For stain matches, it is essential that we work with an actual sample of the wood that is to be stained as the chemical composition of wood can have a marked effect on the resulting colour of a given stain.
    • The dependability of the colour sample itself.  Occasionally, paint companies change their fan decks and their referencing numbers.  It is important to keep fan decks current-or if in doubt, check with us first.
    • Lighting can have a major impact on the viewer’s perception of colour.  The more pigments and dyes in paint, the more impact varying light will have on the apparent colour.
    • And above all, please remember to check the colour of any paint of stain before proceeding with the main application.