How to colour match the unknown colour

I’m moving home next week and have started packing. I’m moving out of rented so I need to ensure everything is right so I can get my deposit back.

I hung my snowboard on the wall using special wall clamps, having taken it all down, I’m left with 4 holes and some staining. Not unexpected, I’ve filled the holes, however the colour I thought the walls were painted are in fact not. The repaired area sticks out due to the poor colour match.

Dopers, how can I discover the colour of my wall? How would a professional do it?

Many thanks.

Not a direct answer to your question, but I’ve never heard of a security deposit being held do to paint issues. They should expect to repaint and I think you’ve done well by patching the holes.

Take a paint chip to the store and tell them to match it.

Interesting, how big would the chip need to be to enable colour matching ? I’m gonna have to hack at a bit of plasterboard in a discrete area.

I feel I should at least make a better job of the repair now I’ve started it.

I am a professional (painting contractor) and this is how I would approach this. (hacking a piece of drywall off a wall and taking it into a random paint store might get you WAG close, but not even close to perfect.)

1: Call the building owner/ maintenance person and ask what they paint their rentals with.
2: If it’s a large property management company, call local real paint stores not big box stores and ask if they have their paint colors on file. When I’ve painted for realtors or property management companies, I document what paint I used on what property, and the store (assuming it’s a real paint store) will have that information on the account, or can search for it.

Beyond that, even if you hack a piece of drywall or plaster from the clean interior of a closet, you’re just gambling on getting a match. Get a close match (color AND sheen) and paint the entire wall. It’s probably the only way you’ll get close to perfect.

Does this actually work? I’ve never found a color match to be perfect, myself. Even if you know the exact color the walls have been painted, over time, that color changes, so any new applied paint will be somewhat noticeable. Or is this no longer the case?

It will only work, theoretically, if the paint is matched by the same paint store, using the same product exactly. And, the original paint hasn’t faded or gotten too grubby over time. Depends on the paint grade and sheen too.

That said I’ve matched 5-7 year old paint successfully.

Oh, and it’s best if you use the same method of application if you want a seamless match. Using a crap nylon brush to “touch up” paint that was originally sprayed or rolled? Good luck.

I’ve used pieces of trim that were painted the same color as the wall (at the same time), and had the paint store use the computerized color matching system. It got pretty darned close. You could still tell where the spot was in the right light, but if I had repainted the whole wall, nobody would ever be able to tell from the color difference at the corners due to the way shadows play in corners.

I suppose you could use a spectrophotometer to read the actual existing paint colour, then take the colour reference to the paint store. I’m more familiar with colour in printing contexts though, and I’m not sure that house paint uses the Pantone system to describe colour.

A spectrophotometer is what the paint store would use anyway. And I don’t think any paint software can make sense of Pantone values.

I’ve had pretty good luck with paint color matching. Often (though certainly not always), it’s dead on. But never go to a big box store. I find that paint stores are hit-or-miss, because many of them deal mostly with medium to high volume contractors, and couldn’t be arsed with the small-time individual customers. Small local hardware stores like Ace and True Value can be great, but they’re hit-or-miss as to whether your particular store has an employee in the paint department that’s actually knowledgeable about paint.

edit: Make sure that the employee doing the color matching actually tests the match against your sample. It helps to bring a large enough sample that s/he can put a dab directly on it. Paint software can formulate a correction, or a particularly knowledgeable paint mixer will be able to adjust it by eyeball.

I would not take a fleck of paint to the store because they have different light. I would go to the store and get some of those samples on little pieces of paper that look close and then bring them home and compare them to the wall color under the light in the room.

Follow up:

Today I hacked a bit of plasterboard from a very well hidden area and got it scanned at a local chain store.
They mixed a small tin of colour x, which was a recognised but un-named colour and I took it home.
Painted the offending area and waited. It is probably 98% right, which I’m happy with. It’s noticeable if you knew it was there, but not immediately.

I also repaired the plasterboard I hacked away it.