When we decide to repaint a room, we generally have an idea of what color we are looking for, right? From there, you go to the paint store to look at swatches to find the exact color you are envisioning. When looking you may ignore the LRV numbers listed on the swatches, but learning what they actually mean may help guide you to the best choice for your room.

LRV stands for Light Reflectance Value, and is always listed somewhere on a paint swatch. While some believe it describes the intensity of the color, it actually has to do with the lightness or darkness of the color. LRV is the total quantity of visible and useable light reflected by a surface in all directions and at all wavelengths when illuminated by a light source (ref. British Standard BS 8300:2001/A1:2005). In simpler terms, it refers to how much light the color absorbs (darker) and how much light it reflects (lighter).

So, how does this confusing description help you when you’re shopping? A lower LRV will be darker, while a higher LRV will be lighter. This isn’t exactly science, but more of a guideline: If the scale is 0-100, zero being the blackest black and 100 being the whitest white, a good rule of thumb is to be about in the middle.