Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, you’ve undoubtably noticed how popular white walls are for interiors. But which white paint color is right for you? The world of white is anything but straightforward, with hundreds of different hues on the market, all varying in their degree of creaminess, or lack thereof.
Choosing the wrong white, especially when it comes to kitchens can easily result in one element looking too yellow or too stark. So if you’re on the hunt for the perfect shade of white for your next project, this post is for you.
Will go over popular shades in each sub category of white paint, and you’ll leave knowing how to make the right paint choice.
Understanding the shades of white paint on the market today
If you’re searching for a white paint you can’t just go to the white hue section and select the first one that you like. First you must identify which type of white–whether it’s a stark white or more of a creamy white or something in between. In this section, we’ll talk about how to identify which type of white paint you need.
The absolute starkest whites are whites with an undertone of blue. These are your ultra bright whites that will almost blind you. Typically you’re only going to see these on the ceiling, but they are important, because if you do go with a true white for your walls, (we’ll go over these next, these aren’t quite as bright as a blue-white) you’ll want to choose a blue-white for your ceiling. You’ll also want to pair blue whites with marble countertops, too.
Most of the time you’re dealing with undertones when it comes to paint colors, and wow, do those undertones ever throw paint colors (for good or for bad!). However, there are white hues that don’t have any undertones. When going with a true white you don’t have to worry about any of those yellow or greige undertones that are present in soft whites (off-whites).
Many, many of the popular white shades that designers and DIYers toss around today are actually off white paint colors. These are much softer than blue-whites and true whites as the whites in this category have varying degrees of creaminess or even greige softening them up.
Best white paint colors
Now that you have a handle on the degrees of variation when it comes to the shades of white paint on the market today, I’ll now share some of my favorite white color choices. Below my list of favorites, I’ll give advice on which white to choose for your project, so make sure you stick around.
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me recommend Benjamin Moore White Dove a time or ten, and for that, I’m sorry, but IT IS one of the best whites. It’s part of our farmhouse color palette for our home, I love it so much.
If you’re not looking for a stark white and need more of a soft white (I also call this color an off-white) then start by looking at White Dove first.
White Dove is the color we chose for our bathroom with shiplap and I am totally in love with how it turned out.
Many off-whites have a good degree of creaminess to them, thanks to their yellow undertone; and while White Dove does have a yellow undertone, it also has some griege in there.
So if you need a soft white, but don’t want an overly creamy white or if you’re putting in quartz counters and you’re just losing your mind choosing the perfect soft white, you really can’t go wrong with White Dove. I’d also recommend Simply White for this conundrum, too. Which brings me to…
Benjamin Moore Simply White is a really good, middle-of-the-road off-white. It’s not too cold and not too creamy. Simply White is the white that I most often see paired with white quartz countertops because it just pairs really well.
Now, because Simply White is an off-white, it does have that yellow undertone, but honestly it’s very subtle and very easy to live with.
You can learn more about the key differences between Simply White vs. White Dove here.
Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White
Decorator’s White is a great off-white paint color, because unlike a lot of the soft whites that you’ll commonly see, Decorator’s White doesn’t have too much in the way of yellow undertones. Like White Dove, Decorator’s White has a gray undertone to it, in addition to just a wink of yellow. If you need a soft white, but your decor leans more toward the cooler side of things, you need to try out Decorator’s White.
Benjamin Moore Cloud White is a designer go to. It’s a creamy off-white that’s very beautiful, but it shouldn’t be used as a go-to white. The yellow undertone in Cloud White by Benjamin Moore is significantly more visible than with the other two off-white paint options I shared.
If you incorrectly assume you need a soft white, and not a true white (remember that’s a white free of undertones) if you choose Cloud White and you actually needed a true white, you won’t be able to get away with the mistake as easily. Now if you were in the exact same scenario and you chose White Dove or even Simply White, you could pull off the faux pas way easier!
Sometimes you want a white paint color that doesn’t have any undertones and Benjamin Moore Super White and Chantilly Lace (which I’ll point out below) are both white paint colors I’d recommend when selecting a white that doesn’t have an undertone associated with it.
Super White is a very bright white, free of any undertones, so if you need a stark white, this one need to be one you test. Now, what’s the difference between Super White and Chantilly Lace? Chantilly Lace is much brighter and more stark.
Chantilly Lace is a hugely popular white paint color that does not have any undertones in it. If you have marble countertops and you’re looking for a white to pair it with Chantilly Lace might work. I’d also recommend you sample some of the blue white options that I’ll talk about below, as well.
While Chantilly Lace typically comes highly recommended, it might not work for every scenario, as many times it can come across as too cold and stark. In smaller formats like cabinetry, Chantilly Lace can work well.
White by Behr is just like the name implies, but it’s ultra, ultra white. Behr’s White is not what I’d classify as a white free of undertones, as it has a blue undertone to it. White is a great option to pair with interiors favoring cooler tones, and looks absolutely great with Marble countertops.
Pure White by Benjamin Moore is also another great option if you’re looking for a white with a blue undertone. Beyond pairing Pure White with cooler tones, you should use a white with a blue undertone for your ceilings if you went with a true white for your trim or walls.
FAQ on how to choose the best white paint colors for your home
You don’t have to be a designer to choose the right paint color, you just have to know a few basic things about white paint colors! Here are my answers to all of your burning questions about white paint.
What is the perfect shade of white?
I cannot tell you how many desperate emails I get from people just wanting to know what the no-fail white paint color is because they’re just exasperated from attempting to find it. I hate to burst your bubble, I really do, but there is no perfect shade of white.
Sometimes you’ll read about a perfect shade of white in a magazine or you’ll see a designer recommending a white they love that “works every time,” but to put it bluntly, they’re lying.
There is no white shade of paint that works for every single situation. The only way to get the right shade is to get the right one for your home, and by now you know you’re dealing with either blue-white, true white or off-white. And then you must test, test test!
Why does my white paint look blue?
Well, this is because you picked a shade of white paint with a blue undertone. These ultra bright whites really only need to be picked when pairing with marble to match that cool blue undertone or for using on the ceiling if your trim or wall color is true white.
Why does my white paint look yellow?
Off-white paint colors have yellow undertones. Some off-whites have barely there yellow undertones, while others are quite prominent. Once you decide you do in fact need an off-white for your space, make sure to sample several to decide which degree of creaminess is right for you.
How do I pick the right white for my cabinets?
I’ve written a helpful guide on choosing the best white for kitchen cabinets, but in a nutshell, you’re going to look at your fixed elements in your kitchen first when making this decision.
Your countertops, floors and backsplash is what you should concern yourself with when making this super important decision. Observe your fixed elements and put them alongside several different whites (a true white, blue-white and off-white) so that you can figure out which white you need for your cabinets.
What’s your best tip for getting the right white paint color for your home?
Order a bunch of white paint samples and start comparing them to each other and to the fixed elements in the room you need to use the white paint. You’ll get the color right every time if you go about it this way.
Resist the urge to poll friends and family about the white paint colors they used in their home, as you now know–what paint color works in someone else’s home will not always work in yours!
Be sure to see my exterior white paint recommendations if you’re planning an exterior paint makeover soon. Browse this helpful guide if you want to keep learning about choosing paint colors. Have a question about white paint colors? Put it in the comments below!