Slate grey is a popular neutral paint color that can work well in many homes. But is it technically considered a warm grey or a cool grey? The answer depends on how slate grey is defined and its exact shade. Generally speaking, slate grey falls somewhere in the middle of the warm-cool spectrum, exhibiting subtle warm undertones in many cases. But slight variations in the paint formula can tip it more warm or cool. This article will examine the warm vs cool qualities of slate grey and help you determine if it’s a warm enough neutral for your space.
Defining Warm and Cool Greys
Grey paint colors span the spectrum from very cool blues to warm beiges. Warm greys have undertones of reds, oranges, yellows, or browns. They take on tan or taupe shades. Cool greys have undertones of blues, greens, or purples. They appear icy or steely. Most greys fall somewhere in between. Slate grey specifically sits closer to the middle.
Here are some examples of warm and cool greys:
Warm greys: Greige, taupe, beige, clay, stone
Cool greys: Ice, nickel, azure, graphite, steel
The easiest way to tell if a grey is warm or cool is to compare it side-by-side with a known warm or cool color. If it matches up closer with a warm shade, it’s likely a warm grey.
What Makes Slate Grey Warmer Than Some Greys
Although slate grey can vary slightly between paint brands, it generally has subtle warm undertones that make it warmer than many medium to dark greys. Here are some of the characteristics that give slate grey warmth:
– Slight red/brown undertones – Look closely and you may detect just a hint of earthy red in slate grey that warms it up. The brown tones connect it to nature.
– Green/olive undertones – Slate often contains subtle olive or sage tones mixed with the grey to warm it.
– Less intense than true greys – At its core, slate grey is still a grey. But it lacks the icy vibe of true greys. The mutedness increases its warmth.
– Inspired by natural slate stone – Slate’s name comes from the natural stone which contains warm buff, brown, and terra cotta tones amidst the grey. Paint slate grey tries to capture some of that warmth.
– Works with warm wood tones – Slate grey pairs harmoniously with warm wooden furniture, floors, cabinets, etc. A truly cool grey would look more awkward.
– Feels cozy – Slate’s warmth gives it a cozier, more inviting feeling than very cool greys that can seem sterile. The warmth feels welcoming.
How Slate Grey Compares to Other Warm Greys
Slate grey is warmer than many medium to charcoal greys that have strong cool undertones. However, when compared to very warm greys, slate is still on the cooler end of the spectrum. Here’s how it stacks up:
|Warmer Greys||Slate Grey||Cooler Greys|
As you can see, slate grey is warmer than ice, silver, steel and other very cool greys. But it’s not as warm as greige, taupe, buff and other warmer neutrals. It sits right in the middle of the warm-cool spectrum.
How the Undertone of Slate Grey Varies
Keep in mind that the exact undertone of slate grey can shift slightly depending on the paint brand and specific formula. Some companies add a touch more brown, red, or olive to give their slate more warmth. Others up the blue and purple tones to make their slate cooler and smoother.
For example, Sherwin Williams Anew Grey is a warmer slate with evident brown tones. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl is cooler and more blue-based. So always test a swatch before committing to a can of slate paint. The variations can be subtle but important.
Also be aware that the warmth or coolness of a color is impacted by the light it’s in and colors around it. Slate will appear warmer next to a crisp white. Placed against a soft tan, slate may come across cooler by comparison.
Tips for Decorating with Slate Grey
Want to use slate grey in your home but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some decorating tips:
– Use it in north-facing rooms lacking in natural warmth. Slate grey adds gentle coziness.
– Pair with warm metals like bronze, brass, gold for an inviting look. Cool silver tones up the grey.
– Add in warm wooden furniture, bamboo shades, rattan accents to keep a warmth in the space.
– Go for a monochromatic scheme with lighter tints of slate on the walls and darker shades on accessories.
– Choose slate kitchen cabinets with yellow undertones and backsplash tiles with rust accents.
– Use Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray or Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray as warmer slates. Go for Benjamin Moore Horizon Line if you want a cooler slate.
– Add warm accent colors like peach, mustard, terra cotta and mossy green to liven up slate grey walls.
– Use slate as an exterior house color with deep red front door for traditional charm and curb appeal.
Slate grey is generally considered a neutral-warm grey paint color, situated in the middle between very cool greys and extremely warm greiges. Its subtle hints of brown, red, green, and buff tones give slate more warmth than a true medium grey while still retaining a neutral grey base. This makes slate grey versatile enough to work in many rooms while adding a cozy, welcoming vibe. However, slight variations in undertone mean some slates pull cooler and others warmer. Always test before committing to a full can of paint. And decorate using warm materials, metals, and accents to keep slate grey naturally grounded. The result will be a warmer, more livable grey that invites relaxation.