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Painting Your House White? You Better Understand LRV.

Are you painting your house white? You better understand LRV. Understanding a bit about LRV will help you in selecting the correct shade of white, or any paint color, for your environment.   

It sounds so simple! White is crisp, clean, and beautiful… it should be easy.  That said, white is tricky! It’s reflective, has wild undertones, and appears differently in a variety of environments.  So that paint chip you’ve been staring at may look completely different on your home’s exterior.  So, if you’re painting your house white, you better understand LRV.

white paint

At brick&batten we have studied different whites.  We have discovered what works and what doesn’t work! If you are considering painting your house white, we would love to partner with you on a virtual exterior home design.  This allows you to partner with our designers to create a beautiful home exterior, prior to spending hours fretting over the perfect white!


What does LRV stand for?

Let’s talk LRV…LRV stands for light reflectance value (may also be called light reflective value).  Sounds simple. Right? Ugh, no!  LRV is anything but simple. 


I’ve spent hours learning about LRV and the scientific method behind these crazy letters! To save your sanity, I’m giving you the condensed version of LRV and why it’s important if you’re painting your home’s exterior.


What is LRV?

LRV or light reflectance value refers to how light or how dark a paint color is and how much light a paint color reflects. The darker the paint color- the lower the LRV number.  The lighter the paint color- the higher the LRV number. 


What is an LRV scale?

Light reflectance value is based on a scale from 0-100.



What is considered a LOWER LRV?

I consider a low LRV in the 0-40 range.  This would be a darker color that isn’t as reflective.  A dark blue exterior paint will appear lighter when hit with direct sunlight and will almost appear like a navy black when not in the sun.  A lower LRV means that this paint color will absorb more light than what’s reflected back.

What is considered a MEDIUM LRV? 

Paint colors 40-60 are considered a medium LRV. They will reflect an average amount of light and are very safe to use inside or outside.  

What is considered a HIGHER LRV?

Paint colors in the 60-100 scale are considered a higher LRV.  You find many beautiful whites in the 70-85 range that are perfectly wonderful for your home’s exterior.  That said, it depends how much direct sunlight hits your home and what fixed elements are there to stay.  Remember, a higher LRV means that this paint color will absorb less light and that will be reflected back.   


Why is a higher LRV tricky?

I don’t know if tricky is the right word; however, colors with a higher LRV can be challenging.  Whites have a high light reflective value causing them to pick up colors around them.  If your home gets direct natural light it will appear lighter and be more reflective.  

direct natural light white home


How does LRV change your outdoor lighting?

A home with a darker paint, essentially a lower LRV, may need more exterior lighting under a covered porch or entryway.  Because the dark paint doesn’t reflect the light, using more and different types of lighting to enhance the area is the way to go!

Shou Sugi Ban James Hardie siding

How do I find LRV on my paint chip?

Because light reflectance value is so important you’d think it would be easier to find; however, it’s not always easy.  In my experience the Benjamin Moore website does an excellent job of making the LRV clear, as it’s listed under each paint color.  The fan deck is a tad more confusing.  To find the LRV you must search the color name in the Index.  The second number listed is the LRV.  

Benjamin Moore LRV on website
Benjamin Moore light reflective value


Sherwin Williams, on the other hand, is a tad more confusing on the website.  There is  more information about the paint color by clicking Details, as seen below. If you’re purchasing the fan deck, Sherwin Williams does a nice job of putting the LRV on the back of each color.  

Sherwin Williams LRV on website
Sherwin Williams LRV

Are you painting your house white? You better understand LRV.

In conclusion, understanding LRV is important before jumping into painting your home’s exterior.  Painting your home is one of the biggest exterior changes you make, creating a huge impact.  It’s also one of the most overwhelming! You’d hate to end up with that pink house if what you really want is white!  Do your research, find colors that work with your architectural style, make a list of the fixed elements around your house, list the colors in your fixed elements, choose several that you’re drawn toward, and test, test, test before committing.  

OR, get a brick&batten virtual exterior design and take the worry out of your decision!