Matching unknown paint color on wall

We have to do some touchup painting. The room in question was painted by someone we hired who did not leave us any paint, nor did he bother to paint the outlets. How can we match the paint? I found what I thought was correct but it is too light, probably for the ceiling, but we have no other paint around from the job. Any advice?

Take off one of the outlet or switch plate covers. If you’re lucky, there’s some painted areas under there you can take a sample for color matching which will not be visible when you replace the cover.

Chip off a piece and take it to a paint store. They can run it through their magic machine and match the color.

Unfortunately, the person who painted did not even remove the switch plates, so there is no color either on them or under them. How small of a piece do I need for the paint store to match from?

Goodness, they didn’t remove the switchplates? I hope this was a friend and not a professional painter. My experience with color matching hasn’t been so successful so don’t be surprised if your touch up doesn’t exactly match.

Do you know what brand of paint it is? If you do, you can go to the paint store that sells that brand and pick up some color sample things that look close, then go home and figure out which one it is. Be aware that if you have glossy paint it will look a little different (lighter) than the matte color chips.

Every paint section in every hardware store I’ve ever been two has a wall display with approximately one billion cards, each with 6-10 colours on it. Grab thirty or forty cards that look vaguely similar and find the single closest match. The mixing formula will be on the back.

Did you try removing a piece of trim? Maybe there is some paint under those that you could chip off.

I do know the brand of paint, Benjimen Moore, and even have some left over ceiling paint, just not the slightly darker wall paint. Do stores retain records of custom paint orders? If so the whole process may be easier than I suspect. I know the date I ordered the ceiling paint and the wall paint was ordered at the same time. Of course, today is Sunday, and they are closed.

Is the painter dead? It seems like a phone call could answer this…

What a pain. I’ll tell you what I do when faced with the same problem: first, find an inconspicuous place. I went behind a door, way down at the bottom of the wall. Then take a razor knife and a straight edge to score out a square piece of the drywall. I made a 1 1/2 inch square, which was plenty big enough for them to put on the paint-matching machine. Peel the square loose using the point of the razor knife. Then take the paint sample to a store that sells your paint and ask them to match it. You’re lucky you know which brand of paint it was – I didn’t, so I just went to Lowes. Patch the scar in the wall with a putty knife and Spackle.

I’ve done this several times and it’s always worked nicely for me.

If you ordered the paint under the account of the painter they should have the record. If it wasn’t on anyone’s account, I don’t know. You can go to the store and borrow a color fan (a sheath of all of their color samples–this might be easier than trying to pick out the color from the wall of samples) and match it if they don’t.

Since the original question appears to have been answered I’m curious about the intent here. I’ve never considered painting either the faceplate or the actual electrical outlet. In the rare cases I’ve seen where somebody painted the outlets I’ve had to replace them because the inspector wasn’t happy with paint potentially inside them. Is it common to paint outlets or even just the faceplates?

It is by clueless DIYers and lazy pro painters. Everyone else takes the covers off when painting.

Exactly, but the OP says “nor did he bother to paint the outlets” which implies to me that the intent here is to get matching paint specifically for that purpose. I can see where somebody might paint the faceplates to match the wall color and I’m hoping that’s all that dauerbach means.

While most inspectors won’t make a big deal of it, technically-a painted receptacle is a code violation. Paint could interfere with the bonding connection of the device mounting strap to a metallic device box, as well as adding a coating to the device which wasn’t present when it received UL listing. I’ve replaced painted devices in my homes for just those reasons.

My wife has done a ton of faux painting and she has always painted the switch and faceplates to match the wall. Also, my wife found the paint can in the basement (somehow I missed it) and it has the “recipe” for the color. All should be well.

I got curious about this (we have always religiously NOT painted over outlets). So far I haven’t found anything authoritative, but a few sites suggested that painted outlet covers present a risk of fire.


Is that risk worth it just to have “pretty” or “invisible” electrical outlets? To my mind, it’s a functional device, and more important to keep it so, especially when safety is involved. They come in different colors, and you can get plates in different patterns, metals, finishes, etc, and even clear. Apparently you can even special order designer colors. Just replace them if you don’t like the look.

It never occured to me that painting an outlet cover was a hazardous activity. Live and learn.