Looking for a dark black paint color? Sherwin Williams Black Magic is one of the most saturated hues out there, but is it right for your space or project?
In today’s post I’ll highlight important things you need to know about this deeply concentrated hue, plus give you tons of tips on how to pick the right color, every time.
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What undertones does Black Magic have?
Black Magic is one of those rare breeds of paint that truly has no undertones. Typically, with black paint, you’re dealing with green, blue or purple undertones.
Beyond the typical undertones often found in black paint, many “black” colors are actually more of a deep charcoal gray paint color.
You also see these same undertones or a combination of them with grey paint colors.
For those that are seeking a true black paint color that’s dark and free of undertones, Black Magic is definitely one of the best black paint colors to sample.
When searching for a black paint color for our window trim when we replaced our windows a couple years ago, I wanted a dark black paint color that didn’t lean blue or purple, and after sampling many, Black Magic was the winner!
Psst! Did you know you can order a large, peel and stick real paint sample of this color online? Order Black Magic here.
What’s the LRV?
The light reflectance value (LRV) of Black Magic is 3. LRV tells us how light or dark a paint color is, with 0 being pure black and 100 being pure white.
With an LRV of 3, Black Magic is pretty dark. Most black colors that are free of undertones are in the LRV range of 2-4, just to give you an idea.
Colors that are close to charcoal or “soft black” have LRVs in the 5-7 range.
If you look at colors in isolation, which you should never do, by the way, it’s hard to tell just how dark or light a color is. That’s why looking at a color’s LRV number will always guide you as to how light or dark it is.
Since we’re on the subject of LRV, let’s address everyone’s favorite question: “Is this color the darkest black?”
The answer to that question is, no, it’s not the darkest black, but it is one of the top truest black colors on the market and absolutely one you should sample if a dark black is the look you are going for.
When you compare this with other dark black colors (like we will down below) you’ll notice that even though it’s a really saturated black, it’s got just a bit of warmth to it.
This warmth is minimal though, and it’s nothing like the warmth of softer black hues like Peppercorn or Iron Ore.
What colors go well with Sherwin Williams Black Magic
Here’s the easy part when it comes to pairing colors with Black Magic. Since it’s a true black, free of undertones, it literally goes with anything.
Black Magic and navy blue? Check. What about pairing it with a green hue or even a seafoam? Check, check!
Black Magic and plum or even a taupe or greige color? Yes, yes and yes!
Now application is, of course, always relevant here. Do you want to paint french doors in Black Magic and put them in a room with a dark navy color like Hale Navy?
Perhaps, not, as contrast is always better. Now, this look can be done with a lot of decorating, but it’s not for the novice decorator.
What trim color pairs with Black Magic SW 6991
I may have spoke too soon when I said Black Magic paired with everything, because it does not pair with every single white color that could be used for trim.
You will need to hold up trim colors with Black Magic to make sure they work. You’ll notice right away some colors have too much of a yellow undertone and you can easily put those in the ‘no pile.’
Black Magic vs. Tricorn Black
Black Magic and Tricorn Black both have the same LRV, but when you do compare the two together in person, you can see that Tricorn Black has just a dash more black in it. Otherwise, these colors are very similar.
Black Magic vs. Onyx
Black Magic and Ben Moore Onyx are both black paint colors free of undertones. Onyx is lighter than Black Magic, with an LRV of 4.99.
However, when you compare the two colors side by side, you can see that there is more pigmentation in Onyx. Onyx even has more pigmentation than Tricorn Black.
Black Magic vs. Iron Ore
While Black Magic was fairly close to Tricorn Black and Onyx, there’s really a pretty substantial difference when you compare it with a softer black hue like SW Iron Ore. Iron Ore has double the LRV of Black Magic and has more of a charcoal undertone.
Tips for deciding if SW Black Magic is for you
Most people skip the step of actually trying out their paint color, and unfortunately, most people end up hating the paint color when they go about it that way.
Yes, even for a black paint color, you still need to test it out first. There’s not one single color that I would recommend forgoing this step.
As a paint color expert, I’m often asked how to go about testing out the color, so here’s my top 3 tips for evaluating black paint.
Step 1: Evaluate your light
Lighting in a room or lack of, can make or break your paint colors. As you now know, Black Magic is pretty dark.
You might not realize how dark Black Magic is until you test out the color in your home and see how it reacts to the light in your home.
If you are using Black Magic to paint a small piece like a chest of drawers or table, you can skip this step, as this is just for door/wall applications.
A room with less natural light will make Black Magic look even darker. A room with a lot of natural light will make Black Magic look lighter.
Seems simple, but I can’t tell you how many people look at only a photograph of their paint color without first seeing how it will react in their room with their light, and of course, the color ends up being too light or too dark.
Once you evaluate the color in your light, you might decide you want something even darker. If that’s the case, look to Ben Moore Onyx.
Consider your overall decor
While black is pretty trendy right now, it’s always been a classic color. Be careful of wanting to get on the bandwagon with this color without thinking it all the way through.
If you’re going to use Black Magic as a front door color, window sash color, or for furniture item like a dresser, make sure you repeat the black color at least two other times in the room.
You want the black paint to look choesive with the rest of your room. Black window sashes are very popular right now, and depending on the rest of your decor they can either look trendy or classic, but if you want to go this route, you need to make sure to repeat the black again in the room.
Same concept applies for an accent wall or any other use of the color. Ideally you should pick your room palette using three saturated colors and one neutral color. You want to repeat the saturated colors throughout the room in various sizes at least 3 times each.
Do keep in mind that Black Magic is a fairly harsh black. There’s really just a whisper of softness to it. You’re going to have to do an amazing job decorating if you opt to use this color as a whole room color.
Now, can you use a darker black as a whole room color, yes, you can, and Shay McGee has done this a few times and it’s turned out beautifully–but mind you, the room is decorated to the nines.
Test out the paint color
See below for the correct way to sample Black Magic.
Notice how I have my paint sample on a pure white piece of poster board right up against the wall. This is so that the current wall color doesn’t impact the color I’m testing. You should always place samples on pure white pieces of paper or a poster board.
In the above photo I’m using my paint boards, but you can get the same effect by either using the peel and stick samples(these are real paint!) and placing them on poster board.
If you prefer to go to the paint store, that’s fine too, just paint a large 12×12 square on white poster board and place on your wall.
Beyond testing out the paint color, it’s also very necessary to compare Black Magic to other colors, and you do that by sampling other colors at the same time and comparing them.
People often complain to me that they just can’t see these undertones that I’m talking about, but it isn’t until they start comparing colors to one another that they can actually see the undertones.
You may find that you like a more black blue color over Black Magic or black hue with green or even purple undertones. You might also decide that a softer black is better for your application than a harsher tone.
By testing out your paint color the right way, you’ll find the perfect black paint color for your project.
Still not convinced Black Magic is right for your space? Be sure to check out more shades of black paint here.
If you need even more insight, here’s a video review I did on the color: