The Important Paint Question You'll Want To Ask After Buying A New Home

You've purchased a new house; there is so much to be excited about, including the paint colors that the former owner selected. You cannot believe that they picked such a perfect shade of paint so aligned with your own style, and you're relieved not to have to repaint the home after moving in. But one day you realize that the walls need to be retouched — you scour the garage, looking for any paint cans that match the color inside, but your hunt yields nothing except your own frustration. There is, however, another way.

If you are purchasing a new home and have fallen in love with the colors that the previous owner selected, reach out to ask them what specific paint colors they used. While some owners leave extra paint cans behind, it's not required for them to do so and there's no knowing if you can count on it. Ask the owners for specs about the paints used throughout the home: What color did they use? Which brand? How about the finish? 

Getting the answers to these questions will save you time and effort in the future when a room needs to be touched up. Don't delay asking — it will be easier to get in touch with the sellers prior to closing on the property. If you wait too long, however, you may be out of luck. And remember to avoid these mistakes that everyone makes when buying paint.

When asking is out of the question

If you didn't know about this pro-tip when you bought your home, there are still ways to color match the shades used in the home. It will just require a bit of sleuthing. Find a razor blade (a sharp box cutter works as well) and locate a space on the wall that is not overly noticeable — a corner down by the baseboard will draw less attention than the middle of the wall. You will also want to carefully select a spot that has not been exposed to direct sunlight, as the brightness can fade the paint and leave you with a poor match. Using the blade, score the surface of the paint in at least a 1-inch square, being careful not to cut into the drywall.

Once the paint has been cut, work the blade under the corner of the paint square, gently working your way down and around the perforation until you can lift the paint chip off the wall. Put the paint chip in its own envelope (remember to label what room it came from if you are taking multiple different paint samples). Next, head to your nearest hardware store, where their paint department will use their spectrophotometer to match the color. A technician should also be able to help you choose the right paint finish based on the sample — matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss — but you may need to deduce it from how much it reflects or absorbs light.