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What do you mix to make grey paint?

What do you mix to make grey paint?

Grey paint is a popular choice for many interior design projects. But achieving the perfect neutral grey shade can be tricky. The specific ingredients and mixing ratios needed will vary depending on the type of grey desired. This article will provide tips on how to mix custom grey paint colors by altering amounts of black, white, and blue pigment.

The Basics of Mixing Paint

At its most basic, paint consists of pigment suspended in a liquid vehicle. The pigment provides color, while the vehicle (typically water or oil) allows the pigment to flow and bind to the painted surface. To mix custom colors, you combine different colored pigments together in varying ratios until you achieve your desired shade.

When mixing paint to make a neutral grey, you generally start with a base mixture of black and white pigments. Black darkens the paint mixture and white lightens it. The more white added, the lighter the gray becomes. The more black used, the darker the grey turns out. Adding equal parts black and white pigment will produce a medium grey.

Adding Blue for Cooler Greys

Black and white mixed together makes a neutral grey. But some grey shades can look dull or flat. Adding a small amount of blue pigment to the black-white blend will create a cooler, more vibrant grey with a hint of blue-green. This can provide a sophisticated look.

The blue pigment counters the warmth of the yellow/red undertones in raw white and black pigments. Just a dab of blue tints the grey with a pleasing bluish cast. Too much blue, however, can make the color take on an obvious icy blue tint. Start with just a few drops of blue colorant and increase slowly until you achieve the desired cool grey shade.

The Importance of Undertones

When mixing paint to create greys, pay attention to the undertones of the black and white pigments used.

– Warm black pigments with red, yellow or brown undertones will produce greys with tan, beige or taupe undertones.

– Cool blacks with blue, green or purple undertones result in grey colors with subtle hints of those hues.

– Warm white pigments with creamy yellowish undertones create greys with tan/beige casts.

– Cool white pigments with blue undertones make grey colors that appear icy.

If your greys are turning out too warm (brownish) or too cool (blue/green), try switching to a black or white pigment with opposite undertones. This will help neutralize the cast. Testing out mixes on a sample board first can help identify undertone issues.

Achieving Different Grey Shades

The specific recipe for mixing a desired grey will vary based on the look you want to achieve. Here are some examples:

Light Grey

For a light grey, use a white-dominant blend:

– 8 parts white pigment
– 1 part black pigment

Add a drop of blue as needed to counteract warm undertones and create a cooler, icy light grey.

Medium Grey

An even blend of white and black makes for a medium grey:

– 4 parts white pigment
– 4 parts black pigment

Slightly shift the ratio to lighten or darken the medium grey as desired. Add blue slowly until you achieve the ideal neutral medium grey tone.

Dark Grey

For a rich, dark charcoal grey, use more black than white:

– 1 part white pigment
– 8 parts black pigment

Minimal blue can provide a cooler, slate grey finish. Too much blue may give an obtrusive bluish cast.

Warm Greige

To make a tan-hued greige (grey-beige), start with a warm black and warm white base:

– 5 parts warm white
– 3 parts warm black

Omit adding any blue, allowing the tan/beige undertones to come through.

Key Tips for Mixing Grey Paint

Follow these tips when blending custom grey paint colors:

– Make small test batches first to tweak the mix
– Add more black to darken grey and more white to lighten it
– Use cool blacks and whites for icy, blue-grey shades
– Choose warm blacks and whites for greige or taupe greys
– Add blue in very small amounts to neutralize warmth
– Increase blue gradually until you achieve the perfect tone

Using Colorants for Grey Paint

For convenience, grey paint colors can also be produced using universal powdered or liquid colorant systems. These involve adding measured amounts of black, white and blue tints to a neutral base paint.

Colorants allow you to skip manually mixing pigments together. But undertone issues can still arise if the base isn’t neutral. Be sure to get colorant recommendations from a paint expert for the specific grey shade you want.

Pre-mixed grey paints are also available from most major paint brands. However, these limit you to set grey tones. With custom mixing, you can achieve an endless array of greys tailored exactly to your project needs.

Choosing the Right Grey Paint Finish

In addition to selecting the perfect grey tone, also consider the paint finish. Different sheens can give the same grey color a very different look.

Some popular grey paint finishes include:

Finish Description
Flat Matte, velvety look (no shine)
Eggshell Soft low luster
Satin Smooth, subtle sheen
Semi-Gloss Medium reflectiveness
Gloss High-shine, reflective surface

Flat or matte finishes provide a mute, elegant look that allows grey colors to appear softer and more soothing.

Eggshell or satin finishes offer mild surface sheen while still maintaining the grey’s tranquil vibe.

Semi-gloss or gloss give grey a sleek, stylish look with bolder light reflection. This works well in mod or contemporary spaces.

Consider the room location and overall design goals when deciding on paint sheen. Samples painted on boards are an easy way to view grey tones in different finishes.

Use Grey Paint to Add Sophistication

Grey is currently one of the most popular “neutral” paint colors for home interiors. When skillfully mixed and applied, grey paint can add sophistication and elegance to any space.

Dark charcoal greys provide dramatic, moody backdrops in modern living rooms or bedrooms. Soft, pale greys create a peaceful sanctuary feel in bedrooms and baby nurseries. Cool, icy greys lend an airy openness to small rooms or hallways. Chic greige shades add warmth and texture to living spaces and studies.

With the techniques above for custom mixing grey paint and choosing the ideal finish, you can achieve the perfect grey tone to elevate your next interior design project. So break out the black, white and blue pigments and get ready to whip up some exquisite designer greys!


The key to mixing custom grey paint colors is varying the ratios of black, white and blue pigments. Add more black to darken the grey, extra white to lighten it, and small amounts of blue to neutralize warmth and create cooler greys. Pay attention to undertones in blacks and whites used. Test batches on sample boards to tweak mixes before painting. Consider different finishes like flat, eggshell or satin to complement the shade. With the right grey for your needs, you can add stylish sophistication to any room.