How to Paint and View Paint Samples on Wall

Are you wondering how to paint and view paint samples on a wall? We’ve got you covered.

Well, picking paint colors for your home is an adventurous project. But it’s not as easy as picking the color(s) and painting the walls right away.

You need to test the paint colors to ensure you get just the right one for your room/house/apartment.

Here’s every little detail you’d want to know about how to paint and view paint samples on the wall.

Should I Paint Right Away or Test Paint Colors?

Whatever color you’re planning to use on your wall – be it neutral or your favorite shades – it’s always advisable to test the paint colors before you paint the entire wall/room.


Because colors appear different on the walls vs the samples at the store. Besides, the same color will look different in different rooms depending on the lighting.

Just to be sure, investing $3 to $8 (sometimes free) for test paint cans is no comparison to the agony of painting an entire wall/room only to finish and realize that the color doesn’t match your expectations.

Testing paint colors is the way to go. But how can we do it?

You can either paint the samples on the wall, or choose not to use the wall. The choice is all yours! Read on!

How to Paint Samples on a Wall?

Painting color samples on the wall is the ideal method.

According to Crowder Painting experts, painting on the wall gives you the best sense of how the color really looks, more so with the texture of your wall.

The only disadvantage is that you’ll have to sand down the edges and prime the section prior to painting the entire room.

Go for a minimum 1.5ft. by 1.5ft. section of the wall for each sample. The larger the better.

If you have several samples you’d like to test, paint them side by side to see the difference.

Always paint at eye-level then wait for the patches to dry before making your assessment.

How to Test Paint Colors Without Painting the Wall?

If painting the wall doesn’t augur well with you, you have two options.

Paint Sample Boards

Don’t like the idea of painting samples on the wall? Go for paint sample boards.

You’re sure to find them in a paint store or just a local home improvement store.

Another alternative is plywood, poster board or cardboard.

Stick the sample boards to the wall you intend to paint then proceed to paint the ENTIRE board.

Leaving unpainted patches on the boards will not give you a good idea of how the paint really looks.

Peel-and-Stick Paint Samples

Reputable paint companies and stores actually have double coated peel-and-stick paint samples for every paint color.
This one’s for those who don’t like the whole painting samples idea.

Simply peel and stick the sample to the wall you intend to paint then make your assessment.

Now, whichever method you choose, here are the tips to ensure you test the paint colors the right way.

5 Tips for Painting and Testing Paint Colors Correctly

Move the Sample Boards Around or Test on Different Walls

As I’ve told you earlier, the same color will look different in a different wall/room. It all depends on the lighting.

That’s why if you’re testing the paint colors on the wall, you should paint on different walls. Go for 2 walls on the minimum – one that doesn’t have so much light, and the other that is well lit.

If you’re using paint sample boards, position them on different walls too.

Always Paint Double Coats

Don’t be misled by companies that claim you only need 1 coat of paint.

I always say that painting walls is somewhat similar to applying nail polish. The second coat always looks different from the first coat.

The second coat gives you a truer, more even shade with the right saturation. Whether it’s on the actual wall, or on the paint sample boards.

By the way, there are paints, especially the lower quality ones with lighter shades, that actually need 3 coats.

Use a Primer

If you currently have darker shades on the wall you intend to re-paint, you’ll need a primer. For instance, if you’ve painted bright red, orange, muddy brown, navy blue, etc.

The same case applies to if you’re now painting saturated or very bright colors.

A can of paint primer goes for under $20 and gives you the spot-on shade with no interference from the paint beneath.

Check at Different Times of the Day

We all know that as the sun moves along the day, the lighting definitely changes. Because of this, the same shade of paint can look different depending on the time of the day.

For instance, gray paint may look grayish on a sunny morning but bluish-gray late afternoon.

Checking on different times ensures you pick a shade that you love whether in the AM, noon or PM.

Allow Time for the Paint to Dry

Before making a decision, give the paint time to dry. 2 hours or so.

The same paint can have a different look when dry compared to when it’s wet.

Bonus Tip:

Don’t sample more than 4 colors.

I get it. You love 20 paint colors.

But honestly, if you sample too many colors, it becomes extremely difficult to decide which shade works for your space.

The objective of testing those samples is to make your work easier, not harder. Testing 3 or 4 at most is enough.

Finally, now that we’ve been discussing painting samples, what are we even going to use to paint these samples?

That’s a very important detail! Let’s conclude with it.

What Brush to Use for Paint Samples

According to home improvement expert, Lindsay Fay-Math, a foam brush is the best option for testing out paint samples.

For one, they’re so cheap that many people consider them disposable. You definitely don’t need to invest so much on a brush that you’re only using to test samples. Do you?

Another thing is that foam brushes can absorb and hold literally any type of paint – even the oil-based paints.

They also work fast without leaving brush strokes on the surface.

However, it’s important to note that foam brushes are just for paint samples. For the actual painting project, you gotta get some rollers. No shortcut here…