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What Exactly Is “Full Spectrum Paint”?

April 2, 2012

Back in October 2010, I wrote a blog post about full spectrum paints going mainstream upon hearing Benjamin Moore’s announcement that they were debuting their own line of “full spectrum paints”. Thanks to Ben Moore’s major marketing campaign, I finally no longer feel like I am selling the emperor’s new clothes. When you Google the term “full spectrum paints”, now well over half a million links come up and although I have never advertised in the almost eleven years since I created my line of Full Spectrum Paints, links to my website come up first. For that, I am very grateful.

The only downside to this is that Benjamin Moore is putting out erroneous information in that they are claiming their Color Stories line is full spectrum because they do not use any black or gray pigments in their colors and their colors have a minimum of 5 pigments. The whole term “full spectrum paint” comes from the fact that in order to be a full spectrum paint, full spectrum colors are mixed using an amount of colorant from each hue family in the visible color spectrum, at a minimum. This wouldn’t bother me, but because Ben Moore’s Color Stories palettes consist of such saturated and vibrant colors, now the term “full spectrum paints” is becoming synonymous with “intense colors”, as you can see in the blog post “Can You Handle the Color?

Now there’s certainly nothing wrong with saturated color, and I have enjoyed creating the Magical Gems and Summer Brights Palettes for artist Hunt Slonem, but it’s the more subtle, easier to live with colors in our Nature and Ethereal Mists Palettes that are what our Full Spectrum Paints are most known for.

As usual, color expert Lori Sawaya does an outstanding job of explaining exactly what full spectrum paints are in her article “What You Need to Know about Full spectrum Paints“, where she also includes this price per square foot infographic:

The great news here is that there is something for everyone when it comes to color and paint!

One comment

  1. This is great, Ellen! Now, what I do not see here is the exposure of the content of the paint used. How many VOC’s are involved? I know Aura is very low VOC, and Lifemaster claims 0 VOC (before of after colorants is not clear). What about C2, Citron and Donald Kaufman? Those of us who are working to eliminate toxins in the residential environment are very interested in this information. It would be great to add another line to this graphic comparing that as well. Thanks for your ongoing efforts to keep the world in beautiful colors!



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