Colour Matching explained.
For companies, colour consistency is a key indicator of quality and brand identity. People want to match colours for many reasons and at tools-paint.com we can help.
Colour matching can be an exhausting job and there are certain steps that can be taken to avoid the cost of a bespoke colour match. This blog should provide the necessary information to help you get the right paint in the colour of your choice at a competitive price using our Mixing Room Service.
First things first
The first point of call is our colour charts listed on the website. We have placed many of the most popular colour schemes there. A word of warning, please note that the screen resolution of your device can vary and affect the colour vibrancy. We have in the past received photographs, these have been sent to us requesting the colour in the photo to be matched, this just isn’t possible. Later in this article we will explain in detail the reasons why a photo cannot be used. So here is our guide to getting the colour right.
Our Custom Mixed Colours range
If you look at a colour card (often known as fan deck) and select a colour reference, it gives us the ability to use a predetermined formulation that creates the colour chosen. There are industry recognised colour card schemes such as RAL, NCS and British Standard to name a few.
These are common to most paint manufacturers giving you a wide range of colours & paint types to choose from. For example, you can see a RAL colour chart fan deck image here but this is only the tip of the iceberg. RAL themselves have introduced a new range “RAL DESIGN” which is a colour system containing 1,625 colours that brings its range up to date with the modern colour trends.
NB: The RAL “CLASSIC Range” consists of a four-digit reference code. The RAL “DESIGN Range” consists of a colour code with seven digits.
code and even a “Hex Colour code”. For example Dulux Cherished Gold, 20YY 36/370, #c19659. In fact, most paint producers have “their interpretations” of a competing manufacturers colours, this enable similar colours to be supplied in different paint products. Many of the large paint manufacturers produce paint on a large scale, quantities of 1000 litres plus in typically a 7-10 day lead-time. Smaller quantities and faster deliveries are offered through selected distributors, this is where tools-paint by Avenue Group really come into its own.
If after searching through the 100’s of colours swatches available in relation to the BS and RAL ranges, a colour reference is still not established, our colour matching service will be required. Following contact with the team at Avenue, we can
ensure the right type of paint for the job has been selected and then offer you further colour schemes that move up a step, increasing the number of shades to 1000’s. The increased volume of shades is made available using a “colour box” which comprises of vast numbers of swatches, all with formulations and ready to be produced on our mixing machines. Here at tools-paint we call these custom mixed colours.
Unbelievably, if after going through the colour box a colour cannot be determined then it’s time to move to our sample matched colours and colour matching service. This means we will attempt to match the colour to a unique or bespoke formulation. For this we need a substrate coated in the desired colour which is flat, and ideally a minimum of 2 inches square for us to attempt to match.
Typical scenario's where our colour matching service has been required are as follows:
- Where something old needs to be replaced or repaired but the original colour reference has been long forgotten.
- An item needs to be coated and look the same as associated product, for example a Vitreous enamelled stove, which needs a matched steel surround.
- An item originally painted or powder-coated, which requires touching-up with paint or aerosol.
- It is a totally unique colour or has numerous variances, i.e. JCB yellow.
- An existing colour has faded over time and now needs matching to the changed shade.
Using Database Colours
Having started in 1981, each year we match many colours for customers, these are recorded and added to our extensive
database of colours. This has allowed us to help customers with machinery, plant hire equipment, agricultural, classic vehicles and many more. So if you’re looking for L90D for a VW Campervan or Takeuchi Red for a digger there is a good chance we have the formulation in our database.
So how do we match an existing colour?
As with all things in the world today there is a machine that will do the job, this is called a spectrophotometer. It interprets a colour and gives it a numerical code to enable comparison known as ΔE (Delta E). With calibrated software it is able to predict a formulation which is used to produce the desired colour. Once the paint has been mixed, it is inspected by Quality Control to see if it is a match. Final Q.C. will always be the human eye and the only way that a colour can be passed as an acceptable match.
Colour Matching by Eye
This can be seen (pardon the pun) as the best way of matching as it will be the eye which is the final arbitrator of a “good match”. The issue with matching by eye is that it is reliant on the skill and experience of the colour matcher. “Time is money” and if a match can be produced after one or two shots (attempts) then this would be seen as being excellent. For the mere mortals amongst us to get even close after ten attempts would be superb.
In short, the quickest method is to find a colour shade card that can be held to the desired colour and compared. This chosen colour can then made to a predetermined formulation.
Some colours can change their appearance depending upon the light they are viewed in i.e. sunlight, fluorescent etc. For example, a car wing that has been resprayed after an accident can look pristine in the sunlight but under street
lighting can be a distinctly different colour, this is called meteorism. To combat this we use an instrument called a light-box. The light box has a range of bulbs that simulate various light conditions. The correct light can then be selected and used to compare a colour match sample with the paint match produced to ensure the colour is being compared in the relevant light conditions.
Tolerance – Why is colour measurement so important?
The classic “British Standard” when it comes to colours is a great example of what we would assume is “the standard”. However, one manufacturers tolerance may be slightly lighter, while another’s may be slightly darker, both will be within “their tolerance levels” of the colour expected. However, whilst the ΔE value might be above 1.00, for certain colour
shades the difference might not be perceptible to the human eye. With some colours, for example bright Pantone or RAL shades it might not be possible to achieve a ΔE of < 1.00 because the required pigments simply aren’t available. In such cases it might be necessary to increase the tolerance figure based on what is achievable, and/or visually acceptable.
Matching a colour can be very rewarding when it has enabled us to provide our customer with a paint that can bring a drab item back to life. Hopefully this blog has laid out a step by step way to achieve this in the most cost-effective way. If you have an inquiry, our team at Avenue is on hand to take calls or emails, so please don’t hesitate to call us.