6 True White Paint Colors For When You Aren’t About those Undertones

A Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace kitchen, Image via Growing Up Gowler

Sometimes, you just want a white-white paint color. Something without any obvious undertones, that’s just crisp and clean. This is often the case for trim, ceilings, exteriors, or rooms with weird light-cast. But, in the vast sea of white paint swatches picking out those true white paint colors can seem nearly impossible. I’ve gone into many a hardware store, grabbed a bunch of paint swatches that looked bright white, and by the time I got out to the parking lot I could tell they had a hint of cream, or green, or were borderline yellow.

Now, however, I stick to my short list of crisp and clean white paint colors, which I’ve found through both my own research and trial-and-error. Once you know what these colors are, you’ve basically eliminated all future guesswork.

Make sure to bookmark this post (there’s a pin you can save!) for future reference. And, check out my posts on paint undertones and how to choose a paint color for more advice!

Why Choose a True White Paint Color?

Before I get to the list, lets talk about the benefits that come with a true white paint color. The benefits can be summed up as:

It’s versatile.

If you need to choose paint colors before you move into your house, or you like to change your decor, or you’re simply stumped by paint undertones, you can rest assured that a true white will go with almost any decor or paint color you layer in.

Unlike warm or cool-tones whites, which are better suited to traditional and modern schemes, respectively, true white paint can also work with both modern and traditional styles. Warm whites look almost yellow against modern color palettes of gray or slate blue, while cool whites look sterile next to richer traditional hues. Bright white works well with both.

Where To Use Bright White Paint Colors

There are some areas of the house that often get painted bright white by default, like trim and ceilings (unless you love the color-drenched paint trend), but I also love bright white for:

-Home exteriors. If you’re looking for a white paint for the outside of your house, you can’t go wrong with a true white. It’s an expensive decision, so if you’re overwhelmed by it, a true white is a good bet.

-Kitchen cabinets. Cabinets are another pricey decision, and a true white is a timeless classic that’ll outlive any design trend you try on in your home.

The Only True White Paint Colors You Need to Know

1. Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace

You can’t argue with the source: According to Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace has “little to no visible undertone” and it one of its cleanest, brightest whites. Chantilly Lace is a crisp white that’s perfect for ceilings and trim, but also works well as a whole-home wall color, especially in spaces that are contemporary, coastal, or preppy & bright. With an LRV of 90.04, it’s the brightest Benjamin Moore hue on this list. (If you aren’t familiar with LRV, it stands for light reflectance value, and is measured on a scale of 0-100, with 0 being pitch black and 100 being the brightest white).

2. Benjamin Moore Super White

The other paint color Benjamin Moore calls one of its cleanest? Super White. Like Chantilly Lace, Super White is true white, but it has slightly cooler undertones, and it a touch deeper, too.

3. Benjamin Moore Oxford White

Oxford White has an LRV, of 86.69, which makes it a true white that still has a bit of depth. It’s a gorgeous choice for a home exterior, or exterior trim.

4. Sherwin Williams High Reflective White

Again, this one is coming straight from the (white) horse’s mouth: High Reflective White is officially Sherwin Williams brightest, clearest white. With an LRV of roughly 93, it’s the lightest color on this list.

5. Sherwin Williams Pure White

Pure White is another of Sherwin Williams’ true white paint colors (not to be confused with Extra White, which is a deeper, cooler shade). Pure White has an LRV of about 85, which makes it not quite as bright at High Reflective White. But its neutral undertones make it a true white shade.

6. The out of the can shade.

Yep, you don’t even need to tint your white paint. Sometimes, the shade straight from the can is perfect as it is (and often times, this is the default color contractors and builders use for trim and ceilings, so if you’re trying to match existing paint in your house and aren’t sure what color white you’ve got, try un-tinted, straight-from-the-can white). If you go this route, just make sure you’re choosing a the right base paint. You’ll want a “white” base, since medium or deep bases are designed to be mixed with lots of color pigment.

Happy painting!

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