The Evolution of Paint Color Trends and Why Color Measurement Matters

paint color measurement
In the world of paint, vibrant new shades are replacing neutrals. Image Source: Unsplash user William Felker

In the past decade, home design blogs have been a virtual sea of greys, whites, and blacks. But recently, something started changing. From pink walls to deep jewel-toned kitchen cabinetry, color is coming back to the world of home decoration.

If a quick scroll through Apartment Therapy doesn’t convince you, perhaps Sherwin Williams’s National Paint Week Color Psychology Study will. Released earlier this year, the study reveals that a full 58% of Americans “say that more vibrant colors should be used throughout the home rather than just neutral tones.”1 Not only can this move away from neutrals liven up your living space, it can actually affect how you feel. “Homeowners shouldn’t stress when trying new colors, and many will likely find it a worthwhile endeavor,” says Dr. Sally Augustin, a color psychology expert at Design with Science. “Vibrant colors can have positive psychological effects. Emerald greens can be energizing, seeing red can give us a boost of strength, and yellow can provide a sense of warmth.”

Of course, the process of picking a paint color is a little more complicated than that; after all, consumers want colors that look as good as they make them feel, and what looks good is constantly evolving. The paint color trends that were all the rage fifteen years ago now look tired and dull. Meanwhile, we may currently have little interest in the shades we’ll be clamoring for in five years. But there was a time when those taupe walls were the height of sophistication and there will probably be a time when we want nothing more than Pantone’s Color of the Year 2022 on our walls.

paint color measurement
The evolution of paint color trends is driven by both organic and carefully planned processes. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

The Evolution of Paint Color Trends

We live in a time when interest in home decoration has reached fever pitch and the latest home fashions can spread across the globe in hours thanks to social media. In this environment, it’s critical for paint manufacturers to stay on top of paint color trends.

So how do these trends develop? The process is both wonderfully organic and carefully planned. One of the greatest influences is the Color Marketing Group (CMG), “a non-profit that helps pick and predict paint colors.”2 Throughout the year, CMG members participate in a series of workshops to discuss the evolution of color trends around the world. They then select a variety of colors they believe will rise in popularity and bestow the title Pantone Color of the Year on the most important hue. As James Bartlett writes in The Los Angeles Times, “politics, pop culture, spots, technology, and social issues can influence the selection of colors.”

The CMG color picks provide vital direction to industries and companies across the globe, helping them choose exciting and marketable hues for their products. And chief among these is the paint industry.

Spectrophotometers allow you to perfect paint formulations. Image Source: Pexels user Tookapic

The Role of Spectrophotometers

For the paint industry, putting color trends into practice isn’t simply a matter of promoting existing shades. Rather, many paint manufacturers develop new color palettes both in response to changing trends and to drive them. This is a critical part of establishing yourself as a leader in the field and staying relevant in a competitive market. But the process of developing new paint colors isn’t as simple as it may seem; it requires a sophisticated understanding of color theory and the use of cutting-edge technologies to create the perfect blends. Perhaps the most important tool available for this process is the spectrophotometer.

Spectrophotometers measure color the way the eye sees it, only better. These instruments are ideal for analyzing the color of pigments, bases, draw downs, and finished products to ensure that each component and stage of the paint creation process  is accounted for. By distilling hues to objective spectral data, operators are able to obtain a precise understanding of color quality and behavior. This data can be used to analyze new hues, identify color matches, determine paint opacity, and perfect formulations.

As each ingredient is added to a mix, the spectrophotometer will monitor how the color is affected and alert you when the paint hits your desired hue, allowing you to develop the ideal recipe. The advanced technology of spectrophotometers means that you are able to capture the precise information you need regardless of geometric attributes like gloss, ensuring that your coloration stays accurate across your full range of finishes.

Once each formula has been perfected, the data set provided by spectrophotometric analysis serves as an instrumental part of ongoing production of both components and finished product. By measuring each batch against the standard, you can quickly determine whether the color falls inside your tolerance range and accept or reject the product. The data can also be used to color match paint chips and promotional materials as well as analyze paints mixed in retail environments. This ensures consistency and allows you to only release the best products into the marketplace. At a time when consumers are on the hunt for very specific shades, this is essential to making sure what they see is what they get.

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HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a leader in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Today we offer a comprehensive range of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers that can be easily integrated into laboratory, manufacturing, and retail environments. Combined with our customizable software packages, our instruments provide you with the highest level of color quality control available on the market today. Contact us to learn more about our innovative line-up and let us help you develop the next generation of paint colors.

  1. “Americans Say They’re Ready for More Vibrant Colors, But Many May Still Play it Safe With Neutrals”, May 10, 2017,
  2. “How, Exactly”, Does a ‘Color of the Year’ Get Chosen?”, December 2, 2015,