How to choose the best white paint for interior walls and ceilings

Not all whites are created equal.
white interior design

Over the past year, we've seen homeowners who want to pull off an all-white interior struggle in selecting the best white paint for interior walls and ceilings. They thought it was easy until they had to choose from the hundreds of options on in-store shelves and online.

Yes. White paint comes in a variety of shades and undertones. Some have a hint of blue, yellow, pink, cream, grey, and green etc. Some look cold, clinical, creamy, and dirty. It's easy to buy the wrong shade when you're not aware of the kind of white paint you need. And, correcting this mistake could be costly and time-consuming.

resene white paint
Image credit: Resene

Do you want to get your white paint right? Read our expert tips below.

1. Assess the amount of natural light entering the room

When the room receives plenty of natural light, paint the walls and ceiling with cool white shades. If it doesn't, use warm white. When it's a dark, windowless room, consider using a combination of cool white paint and another colour. Dulux, the best-selling paint brand in the country offers numerous shades of white. Their most popular warm whites include:

  • Dulux Natural White
  • Dulux Antique White
  • Dulux Whisper White
  • Dulux Hog Bristle Quarter

They also have stunning cool white shades namely:

  • Dulux Vivid White
  • Dulux White on White
  • Dulux Lexicon Quarter
  • Dulux Lexicon

Best White Paint

READ: How to Pick the Best Paint Colour for a Dark Room

2. Mind the other elements in the room

White, as a neutral colour, serves as the background of everything else that you have in the room. The colours around it affect its appearance. The colour of the floor, large pieces of furniture, window treatments, and artwork affect the white paint you used.

So, don't paint the kitchen cabinets off-white especially when the kitchen walls, splashback, and benchtops are crisp white. The cabinets will look old and dirty.

Think about your artificial lighting plan too. Warm lighting, when mixed with warm white walls, result in creamy, soft yellow interiors. Crisp white walls can be tamed with warm lighting. We recommend having a mix of warm and cool lighting for a variety of effects.

Read: 5 Eye-catching Kitchen Splashback Options for Crisp White Interiors

3. Always do a test patch

This is simple. Paint a large swatch of your chosen colours on the wall. This will reveal the differences between one white paint to another. Take a sample of your chosen paint on a piece of cardboard too. Move the cardboard around the room; put it against the floor, window frames, doors, and curtains. Check how it changes from day to night, under different light conditions. Choose the one that looks pretty on all instances.

4. Match the paint with the architecture

Traditional and classic interiors will look better with brighter, warmer shades of white.

Modern, minimal, and contemporary homes that receive plenty of daylight can rock cool white paints.

Best White Paint
Image credit: Dulux

5. Think of the way you want the room to feel

All decorating must begin with understanding the mood and vibe you want to feel in the room. You can avoid having a cold and stark room when you use greys, blues, pinks, and greens inside a room with cool white walls. Warm white interiors decorated with Earthy colours always feel cozy.

6. Creatively pair one white to another

All whites look white when isolated. You will only see the difference between two shades of white paint when you apply them next to each other. For instance, you can paint the ceiling with a cool white and the walls with a warm white paint. This trick creates a slight contrast, which adds interest to the room.

You can also use one white consistently throughout the space. The interiors look homogenous when you paint the ceilings, walls, and trims with the same colour. However, we recommend using different texture and sheen levels of paint. Use glossy/semi-gloss for skirting and architraves. Use low sheen on the walls and ceilings.

Best White Paint
Image credit: Dulux

Read: 8 Shades of White Paint for 8 Different Effects

7. Pair soft white shades with black

The black and white combination is striking in nature. Tame it down by using soft white paint shades. The interiors remain dramatic and attractive even if you use a faint white.

8. Woodworks with all the shades

Timber and white paint is another classic combination. An all-white room will look warmer when you have wooden floors or ceilings. Explore more lovely combinations when you stain the wood.

9. Inject lively colours in all-white interiors

Cool white paint shades are the perfect background of bright accent colours such as yellow or turquoise. Warm whites look best with the lovely shades of brown, red, and orange. Introducing another colour in the room will keep the interiors from looking stale and boring. Colours add interest to the room’s design.

Best White Paint
Image credit: Dulux

10. Make sure it fits the room

Think about the room where you will use the white paint. A cool white paint will work in a sunny family room, but it may not fit the bedroom, where you want to feel cozy, sleepy, and relaxed.

11. Read the name of the paint

The name of the paint shade will tell you whether it’s a warm or cool shade. Porter’s Paints in Milk sounds like a creamy white shade, Snow White sounds like a cool white shade, and Antique White seems warm and aged. 

Of course, names are still broad indicators. Look at the paint’s label, colour charts, and the swatches on a small piece of paper. Here are 8 shades of white paint for 8 different effects.

You can ask a certain paint brand’s sale person too. Talk to a colour consultant or seek the help of your building designer

Liked this article? You'll like our complete home renovation guide too!

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