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Colour and Light Reflectance Values (LRVs)

May 8, 2019

Light affects how colours look and the LRV can be a useful reference in colour selection and anticipating the final appearance.


So what is the Light Reflectance Value?  In simple terms, it’s a scale that identifies how light or dark a colour is.  The higher the number the lighter the colour, with 100 being pure white and 0 being no light reflected = black.

Why does that matter?  Because colours with a low LRV will absorb light.  On the other hand – we all know that lighter colours can make a room look bigger – right? Well sort of. Light colours with a high LRV reflect light back into the room but you must have a good source of light for this to work! 

A rough guide: Once you have evaluated the space, the size of the room and the amount of light it receives you then have a clear rationale for how light or dark a colour to select. As a rule of thumb:

0- 35              Dark colours/ medium dark

35-55              Medium

60+                 Light colours

Remember always to factor in light conditions when anticipating the final effect. For example, in a well lit room a medium colour might seem paler than expected.

Where do you find the LRV.  This number can be found in the Alphabetical Index at the back of the Harris or B-H Paints/ Ulttima Plus fandeck.  If you don’t have one, ask them to look it up at your local Colourcentre or dealer store.

It’s a good idea to test colour selection first by applying a small quantity of paint before making the full purchase.


Check out our other great articles in this May edition of Paint Pro!

Business Builder: Estimating Labour Hours – Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Check it out: Do you have an angled-brush in your arsenal?

How To: Avoid ‘Picture Framing’

Solutions Focus: Which Metal Primer

Health & Safety: Should I Wear a Back Brace?



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