Skip to Content

What is a color chip sample?

Choosing the right paint color for your home can be a daunting task. With so many options to choose from, how do you know which shade is right for you? This is where color chip samples come in handy. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain everything you need to know about color chips and how they can help you find the perfect paint color.

What Are Color Chips?

Color chips, also known as paint swatches, are small samples of colored cardstock that allow you to test out paint colors before committing to a full can of paint. Paint brands offer these chips in a variety of finishes (eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, etc.) across their color collections. Typically, color chip samples are free at most paint retailers.

Size 2″ x 3″ cardstock
Number of Chips Varies, you can request as many as you need
Cost Free

With just a simple trip to the paint store, you can grab a variety of color sample chips to experiment with at home. Testing small swatches of color on your actual walls is the best way to determine whether you like the way a color looks in a room before fully committing to it in a gallon of paint.

Benefits of Using Color Chips

There are many advantages to using color sample chips during the paint selection process:

  • Accuracy – The colors on sample chips are more accurate compared to the paint swatches you see online or in a fandeck. The chips allow you to see the true color.
  • Convenience – Chips are free and easy to take home to test out.
  • Efficiency – Narrow down colors quickly by sampling many shades at once.
  • Flexibility – Move your favorites around to different walls before picking a winner.
  • Confidence – Ensure you love the color in your space before committing to a whole gallon.

While color chips may take more effort upfront versus just grabbing a full can of paint, they save you time, money, and frustration down the road. You avoid the hassle of returning gallons of incorrectly chosen paint.

How to Use Paint Swatches

Here is a step-by-step guide to using color chips effectively:

Step 1: Determine the Tones You Like

Before even looking at specific colors, decide if you are drawn to warm, cool, or neutral undertones. Warm tones like reds, oranges, and yellows brighten up a space. Cool tones like blues, greens, and purples have a calming effect. Neutrals like tans, grays, and whites provide a clean backdrop.

Step 2: Pick Up a Variety of Chips

Visit your local paint retailer and browse their color collections. Pick up an assortment of chips in finishes that interest you across the color families that appeal to your style. Aim to grab around 15-20 chips to start.

Step 3: Test Samples on Walls

Once home, hold up each color chip against the wall you intend to paint. Move the samples around the room at different times of day to see how natural lighting affects the color. Look at chips next to furniture and decor to visualize the complete space.

Step 4: Narrow Down Selections

Eliminate any colors you dislike immediately. For those you are still considering, paint a small swatch on the wall and view again after it dries. Check that you are happy with the color at all times of day. Repeat this process until you narrow down 1-2 favorite colors.

Step 5: Purchase Paint

Head back to the paint store with your top color chip picks and purchase a small sample size, like a quart, in the exact shade. Repaint larger swatches with the actual paint to confirm you’ve selected the perfect color before purchasing gallons.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

Here are some helpful pointers for selecting the right paint color using sample chips:

  • Test chips on the wall where paint will actually go, not just on a poster board.
  • View colors at different times since natural light changes throughout the day.
  • Compare to decor items like rugs, furniture and accents that will remain in the room.
  • Pick neutral colors if reselling soon, bold colors if staying put longer.
  • Limit colors to 3 per room – one main, one accent, one trim color.
  • Coordinate colors across open concept rooms that lack barriers.
  • Buy a sample size quart before purchasing gallons to confirm color.

Where to Get Color Chips

Every major paint retailer offers free color sample chips. Here are some of the most popular places to get chips:

Store Details
Home Depot Chips for Behr and Glidden paints
Lowe’s Chips for Valspar, HGTV Home, and Olympic paints
Sherwin Williams Chips for Sherwin Williams paints
Benjamin Moore Chips for Benjamin Moore paints
Online Order chips from brand websites like

Most color collections have 100+ chip options, so you should have no problem getting an extensive selection of shades to trial at home.ret


In closing, paint color chips are invaluable when deciding on the perfect wall color. They allow you to experiment and compare paint options conveniently and affordably. Be sure to get plenty of samples, view in natural lighting, test on actual walls, and compare to existing decor. Following this process using color chips lets you find a shade you’ll truly love so you can paint with confidence.