The Magic of Full Spectrum Paint

I have lately become quite enamored of a relatively new development in paints: Full Spectrum paints. Unlike standard paint colors, which are usually a blend of two or three hues, plus some black, full spectrum colors are blended from the 7 colors of the natural light spectrum, and use no black at all.

To the very casual observer, there probably isn’t an immediate difference, but full spectrum paints react in subtle, yet very powerful ways to a discerning eye. Because it has a broader range of pigments in the blend, the paint reflects a broader range of light, and coordinates more easily with the colors around them.

It is almost chameleon-like in its ability to pick up colors from adjacent materials, and to change character as the light changes. While you might go through dozens of standard paint colors to find just the right color to coordinate with a stone countertop, you probably easily can use any one of a majority of full spectrum colors and feel like it’s a pretty good choice! Because they don’t have have any black, the colors don’t tend to turn muddy, or lose their character in low light conditions.

Not only do these paint colors work well with the natural materials around them, they work well with each other, taking much of the fear of potentially bad color coordination away. For a novice, it’s almost hard to make a mistake. (Well, hard, but not impossible. I don’t want to put any designers out of business!)

I’ve even used 4 colors within a single space — usually a daunting task even for a professional — and they blend so well that the effect is subtle and intriguing, rather than overly striking, as one might anticipate. Yet, as this client said, “The general reaction is ‘WOW!'” And other clients of mine have been pestered by their friends on where to get this paint. (As you can tell, I’m sold on full spectrum paints.)

These paints are available from Donald Kaufman (, Citron Paint ( or from my favorite, Ellen Kennon ( Personally, I like Ellen’s paint because when you buy it from her, she faxes the color formula to the local Glidden Professional Paint store, and the paint is mixed with whichever Glidden paint you choose. You just pick it up locally, prepaid, and there are no shipping charges. As you might expect, the paint is a little more expensive than standard colors, but in the overall cost of the usual project, the extra cost is a pittance.

If this concept intrigues you, order some paint samples and give it a try in a limited area. For many people, the difference between standard paint and full spectrum paint is like night and day. One contractor I work with refers to them as my “magic paint colors,” which always makes me smile.

4 Replies to “The Magic of Full Spectrum Paint”

  1. I found out about full spectrum paints when I met Ellen Kennon – and was blown away! The colors are so interesting, they almost look “alive” on the walls.

    I recently did an interview with Ellen on my site, where you can also see photos/examples of what these magic paints can do to your walls:


  2. This is the best explanation of full spectrum paints I have found, thank you for finally helping me understand the cause/effect. My first visit to your site, looking forward to reading more. Thank you.

    1. Unfortunately, I haven’t used Benny Moore’s full spectrum paints yet, so don’t have an opinion, other than it’s nice to see that they “see the light.” However, I still like Ellen Kennon’s paint formulas. (formulae?) And really exceptional customer service, too.

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