The Search for the Perfect Colormatch: Part 1 - The Basics

The Search for the Perfect Colormatch: Part 1 - The Basics

Without a doubt, the most common complaint I hear from my customers in the cabinet and furniture industries is the lack of consistency between batches of their solid color coatings. Whether it's paint, lacquer or highly pigmented stains, getting the same color twice is difficult in this trade, and I'll tell you why, but first, it’s important to understand exactly what color is.

The most important rule to color is that color only exists at the very moment it is being viewed. That means color is altered by light, substrate, composition and environment. With the being said, coatings will ALWAYS have variance from batch to batch. Even at the tightest tolerances, typically found in cosmetics, OEM automotive finishing and colorant manufacture, you will still see some deviation from the original sample material. How small that deviation is basically equivalent to the technology being used to analyze and create the color, along with how much the client is willing to spend so their supplier to achieve their desired tolerance. 

Precision costs money, and that cost leads to looser tolerances in architectural and furniture coatings. The wood finishing industry often ignores the time, costs and labor that go into creating uniform-appearing colors. Sure, every cabinet coating could be matched down to a 0.10 DE, but that level of precision either comes by random luck or by increased costs. The labor to achieve low DE, or “Delta-E”, numbers is far beyond what most clients would be willing to spend, and very few distributors have the technology and know-how to even measure color this precisely.

In this series, I’ll outline some of the most common issues with color creation, along with the consequences that can occur in various steps along the way to completing a project. I'll also present some valuable solutions and alternatives that will ultimately save time, labor and money.

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