Full Spectrum Color Paint

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Blog | 6 Comments

For some reason I thought that everyone in the world of Decorating and Design, knew what “Full Spectrum Colors” were. But I learned real quick that it was not true.

And I also thought that everyone that works in a paint store, knew exactly what that was. To my surprise I got the weirdest answer today when I went into a store and just asked if they have any Full Spectrum Colors (although I was fully aware of the fact that this specific store does not sell Full Spectrum Colors)

So what does “Full Spectrum” mean?

Usually a paint color is made up of about 2-4 colors including BLACK. Full Spectrum Colors consist of 7-12 different color pigments and it NEVER EVER has BLACK in it! It’s truly considered as complex colors.

It plays very well with the surrounding colors and is often referred to as “chameleon” colors. The cool thing about these colors are that they will never look muddy, since it has no black pigments in it. In fact, they are so gorgeous, once you’ve used these colors, you will probably never go back to a less complex paint color.

The “scary” part about FSC though, is that you don’t really know exactly what to expect. Exciting, right!

Several different factors can play a role in the way the final result will display. Whatever colors are in the surroundings, will most definitely influence the look. Light, aka Metamerism can play a huge role in the final result of the color.  Look at the example below:

This color is a Benjamin Moore FS Color called Tweed Coat CSP-85.

Tweed Coat Ben Moore CSP-85

Photo Credit – Benjamin Moore

This picture of the kitchen island below, was taken at night, with a cell phone and most probably a flash and instead of looking Green Gray as you can see in the example above, it turned out to be a khaki color! My client called it “Gumbo soup!”

CSP-85 First coat

Not what I was aiming for! We were aiming to tone down the extremely yellows floors, that’s for sure. The countertops had a green undertone to it, hence the decision to paint Tweed Coat. It sometimes is really difficult to choose colors in a home, when the undertones of the fixed elements doesn’t match. I had a very yellow floor to work with, travertine backsplash, that shows up band-aid pink under certain lights and then a greenish countertop with lots of black and brown in it.

So I chose to work with the color of the countertops.

When visiting the house the next day, I was a little surprised to see that the color looked completely different than what the client portrayed in his picture. Now, granted that a photo doesn’t always relay the colors accurately, I still was puzzled by the extreme difference.

The picture below was taken in daylight with no lights on. This was just one coat of paint, but I could already see it was going to be the color that I was aiming for.  If anything, I would’ve wanted it deeper, more intense, especially when daylight washed over everything, but the client really did not want it any darker than it was. Their tolerance level for strong or saturated colors were very low and as a Color Consultant, I have to respect that. It looks much lighter than the paint sample above, right!



I could’ve chosen a color with a yellow undertone as well, but we’ve had enough of all the oranges and yellows in the house!

I had the painters paint a second coat, remove all the floor coverings, changed out some of the light bulbs in the kitchen and the final result was exactly what I had in mind! A gorgeous rich color,  that worked very well with the countertop. As usual, my pictures doesn’t show reflect the actual outcome of the true results, but you’ll get the idea. It really looks gorgeous when seeing it in person.

CSP-85 after curing

So what have we learned about Full Spectrum Colors?

  • It is Complex. It is Rich. It is Unique and it is Dynamic! And it works  extremely well with surrounding elements.
  • It has NO Black in it, which means it will never look muddy. This enhances it’s natural ability to reflect light, creating truly luminous colors.
  • Not all companies have them. In my area, only Benjamin Moore has it. Look for the Paint Colors in the Color Stories Collection. They will only mix it in the AURA paint. The Aura product CAN NOT BE USED for EXTERIOR surfaces.
  • C2 paint is also known for their Full Spectrum Colors and have an alliance with PPG for easier distribution of their 496 extraordinary colors! Their paint product CAN be applied onto EXTERIOR surfaces
  • Due to the complexity of the ratio of pigments used to create a color, you won’t be able to purchase a small sample, it has to be a quart.
  • It can absolutely NOT be Color Matched. Do not even attempt!

Here is a short video from C2 paints, explaining a bit more about the pigments they use to create their Full Color Spectrum paints.

Now you know!

Once you have the guts to try out Full Spectrum Paints, you would probably never settle for a 4 color pigment paint color again. Just my two cents…. 🙂


  1. Livia
    23 February, 2017

    Very informative post. I like how the cabinets turned out. Now I know why my Revere Pewter is so different in my house than everywhere else I saw it. I bought it in Aura paint.

    24 February, 2017

    Another great post Max! You explained the full spectrum paint color completely and now I’m considering one myself.

  3. Max
    24 February, 2017

    Ooeee, I like that Teresa! Gutsy! I just spec’d Andes Summit for a Contemporary Dining Room. CSP-600. Yes, BLUE for a dining room. She bought a wooden table with lots of color variations and I told her to accessorize with golds and creams. Yummie! Let me know which Color you are going to try out, okay!

  4. Max
    24 February, 2017

    Thank you Livia. It was quite nerve wrecking, but once the paint has cured, it looked gorgeous! The clients said it was their favorite part of everything we painted! I’m wondering though why Revere Pewter turned out weird for you. It is not a Full Spectrum Color. What does it look like in your home?

  5. Teresa Tullio
    14 March, 2017

    Great post Max! The cabinet color was a great illustration of how colors change in different light. We should all be using full-spectrum or complex colors in our jobs!

  6. Max
    1 April, 2017

    Thanks Teresa! I am hesitant to spec it to a client that doesn’t have a healthy tolerance for color, but I definitely would love to use it more when I can!

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