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The 21 best shades of white paint

You’ve decided on white paint, and that’s that, right? Not quite. White, like any other color, has a variety of shades, tones, and finishes. One shade of white may conjure up sterile hospital walls, while another white paint could transform your room into a serene, spa-like space.

Before you get too anxious about the specifics, we’ve got your answer. Use our handy guide to figure out what white paint is the perfect one for your space, plus our top picks for excellent white shades.

Step 1: What are the undertones?

White is an amalgamation of all the colors. Because of that, white is never just white. All whites have tonal nuances that can affect your decision, says Sherwin-Williams. One way to see these variances is to line them up on a plain white sheet of paper.

This complexity is the starting point for your decision, providing the chance to build on the tone of your room based on furnishings, light, and other colors in the house.

Step 2: Warm or cool?

Warm whites are those with reddish, yellow, or pink undertones, while cool whites have a blue, purple, or greenish hue. Look at the furnishings in your home to get an idea of what the prevailing trend is, warm or cool, to help direct your choice.

These undertones are also greatly affected by the amount and type of light that comes into the room. Rich sunlight may make the hue feel warmer, while LED light could cool down the room. If you aren’t sure, take a few shades from the store to place in your home to get a better idea of how it will look in your space.

Step 3: Test directly on the wall

Paint chips aren’t enough. Once you’ve chosen a few (we recommend 10 paint chips), narrow your favorites down to a handful. Choose at least three to five and get paint samples. Paint these on the wall and allow them to dry, watching for a few days to see which one stands out for you.

It’s essential to put paint directly on the wall because paint chips will never fully adopt the hues of the room or be affected by the light. Paint large swatches in multiple places and carefully watch how the colors transform from day to night and from floor to ceiling.

Sherwin Williams Pure White

The top 25 white paints

These are our top picks for gorgeous, timeless shades of white to help you get started on your search.

Warm white

  • Sherwin Williams Pure White – This shade is an excellent option for kitchens with warm, wood accents. Use a semi-gloss finish for easy cleanup.
  • The Spruce Best Home First Frost – This shade is a brighter white than some warmer ones on the list. It could be a good option for bedrooms with lots of reds or oranges because it won’t make the space too dark. Plus, it’s bright without feeling sterile.
  • Benjamin Moore Simply White – If you’re going high gloss or a lacquer-style finish, this is the one.
Portola Snow Leopard
  • Portola Snow Leopard – Snow Leopard offers a lot of depth with little undertone. When it’s up, it trends warm but also complements other colors on the spectrum.
  • Farrow & Ball New White – It has a huge of melted vanilla ice cream and is an excellent option for kids’ rooms or country-design styles. It provides depth, and combined with a slight gloss, is a timeless option.
  • Valspar Honeymilk – This choice provides the chance to bend a warm white with a gray or beige tint. The color is incredibly forgiving of multiple types of light and color schemes.
Behr Falling Snow

Cool whites

  • Behr Falling Snow – Falling Snow is a cool white that brings out the best in deep colors like purple or royal blue. It also works in rooms without a lot of natural light but is forgiving.
  • Clare Snow Day – If you’ve got a south-facing room with lots of light, Snow Day offers a crisp, cool choice without feeling sterile. It’s an excellent complement to cool pastel colors.
  • Ralph Lauren Design Studio White – Another clean option without appearing sterile, this works well for trim work and for smaller spaces where it can create an expansive feeling.
Farrow & Ball All White
  • Farrow & Ball All White – Shiplap lovers, we’ve found your perfect shade. This one works well with a slightly matte finish and complements those shiplap or board and batten design features.
  • Farrow & Ball Cabbage White – With a green undertone, this one is perfect for a master bedroom. It’s serene and spa-like with soothing undertones.
  • Benjamin Moore Moonshine – This cool white color with gray undertones gives you the chance to play with white textures. Pair it with a crisp neutral white on doors and trim for a tone-on-tone appeal.
  • Benjamin Moore White Diamond – For fans of genuinely cool whites, this one has a distinct blue undertone. You could accomplish the same tone on tone with a neutral white trim and allow the blue to come out.
Farrow & Ball Strong White

Neutral whites

  • Benjamin Moore Super White – This gallery style white is reminiscent of the crisp inside of formal art galleries. It’s bright for the most-industrial design.
  • Dunn-Edwards Whisper – This neutral white mimics natural shades found outside but trends neutral indoors. It’s a soothing option for a wall color.
  • Benjamin Moore Cloud Nine – A crowd-pleasing neutral, this one looks good both inside and outside.
  • Farrow & Ball Strong White – This option is one of the softest on the list despite having no warm undertones. It’s gorgeous.
  • Behr Frost – This is a good option for homes with plenty of other colors. It matches well with other colors and would make an excellent transitional color between rooms.
  • Sherwin Williams Extra White – This is as close to pure white as you can get. If you’ve got large, striking artwork, this has a gallery flair to it.
  • Farrow & Ball Great White – If you want neutral that will transition well from day to night, this is a good option. It will look good when the room is flooded with natural light and at night with your lamps.
Sherwin Williams Extra White

Choosing the Right White

White is a beautiful option for trim or walls. It can make a small room feel expansive and provide an excellent backdrop for a variety of accent colors and design schemes. Use our top picks to get started and find the perfect white for your space!

Editors' Recommendations

Deb Goncalves
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Deb's work has appeared on Moms, Babygaga, and WorldAtlas. When she's not working (that's hard to say about a Capricorn), she…
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