Picking the perfect white paint can be a mind-numbing process. But after trying several, we’ve gone ALL IN on our one true favorite: Sherwin-Williams Pure White. It’s got all of the things you’re probably looking for in a crisp white, without any of the pitfalls that you run into with others (too bright! too gray! too yellowed!). Plus, it’s versatile enough to work on just about every surface of your home: walls, doors, trim, ceiling, cabinets, and more.
Is Sherwin-Williams Pure White the best white?
Anybody who has looked for white paint knows finding a “true white” is nearly impossible. Whites vary greatly depending on their undertones, often skewing yellow, pink, violet, or even green. And to make matters worse, whites without strong undertones usually end up looking stark once they’re on your walls or cabinets. Nobody wants to be blinded when they walk into a room!
With Pure White, Sherwin-Williams has struck a balance of brightness and undertones to create a near-perfect white paint color. It lives up to its name – giving off the appearance of a crisp, pure white – without being an actual pure white. We trust it so much that we’ve painted nearly every surface in our home using it!
Is Sherwin-Williams Pure White too white for walls?
SW Pure White is a great choice for walls! It’s one of the most popular shades for white walls out there, and for good reason. We’ve used it to create that classic “gallery white” look in our house without appearing too stark or cold. This is thanks to the very slight warm undertones in the paint that add the perfect amount of warmth to it. It means your house will look both bright and open, but also cozy and comfortable too.
We also find that it looks great in nearly every lighting condition, like south-facing rooms with lots of windows, north-facing rooms without much natural light, and even at night with soft white artificial lighting. For us, it has truly been the perfect whole-house paint color.
Is Sherwin-Williams Pure White warm or cool?
One of Pure White’s best features is that it’s a very subtle warm white. This means it has the smallest hint of creamy yellow to it. But don’t worry, this warmth is so incredibly slight that you may not even notice it’s there!
Warm whites are typically best for home interiors because cool whites tend to feel cold, stark, or too bright when used on walls. But when a paint color gets too warm, it might start to look off-white or beige. SW Pure White gives you the best of both worlds. It still looks like a clean, white white to the eye, but without appearing too sterile or stark. You can see how it appears in the video below for a better idea.
Note: You can also watch this video on YouTube.
What is Pure White’s undertone?
SW Pure White has very slight yellow undertones. This is what gives it the subtle warmth that designers seek out for an interior white paint color. If you were to watch Pure White be mixed, you’d see the paint counter add small amounts of yellow, red, and black to the base paint. It’s hard to detect these hues in the final mixed paint, but that’s what helps Pure White appear slightly darker and warmer than a standard white.
What is Pure White’s LRV?
Sherwin-Williams Pure White has an LRV (Light Reflectance Value) of 84. This should reassure you that Pure White is a light color, but not overly intense. LRV is a measure of how much light reflects off a surface, with absolute black being 0 and bright white being 100.
Where can you use SW Pure White?
SW Pure White is an all-around classic white that can be used just about anywhere: walls, trim, ceilings, cabinets, doors, and more. In our home, we’ve used it on EVERY wall, EVERY ceiling, EVERY door, and on ALL of our trim & wainscotting. Literally EVERY painted surface you see in the photo below is painted Pure White… even the handrail on the stairs! The flexibility of this color means it’s good for any room too: bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and even hallways or closets!
As for the paint finishes, we like to use eggshell paint on the walls, semi-gloss paint on all trim, doors, railings and wall moldings, and flat paint on the ceiling. We’ve loved how layering the same white paint color everywhere has made our smaller home feel bigger, brighter, and more relaxed. It’s a crisp and pure tone that is great for modern and contemporary homes AND its warm undertones also make it a good fit for traditional and farmhouse-style houses.
We love the flexibility of crisp white walls because there’s no limit to the colors, styles, woods, or metal finishes you can pair with it. It also acts as the perfect backdrop for colorful furnishings and art, as well as a great neutral complement to accent walls and ceilings.
Where should you NOT use SW Pure White?
Many find Pure White too bright for large exterior applications. Direct sunlight outdoors can intensify any paint color, which causes even subtle whites to appear too blinding outside. It’s best used outside as a trim color, especially as a way to help your siding color pop – like we did at our beach house below.
For surfaces like siding, painted brick, or garage doors we but we recommend a darker or creamier white. We chose Sherwin-Williams Moderne White (SW 6168) as the exterior paint color for our house. It has a darker LRV of 74, compared to Pure White’s 84, which ensures that it’s not “blindingly white.”
Another consideration is that white walls tend to reflect other colors in a room. So SW Pure White may not be a good fit if you have extremely brightly colored accents, such as a giant pink rug or tons of blue cabinets. That could cause the whole space to take on a warmer or cooler pallor than you’d hoped.
What trim color looks best with SW Pure White?
Honestly, the best trim color for Sherwin-Williams Pure White is… Sherwin-Williams Pure White. Painting the same white color on your walls, trim, and even ceiling (that’s what we did!) is the best way to preserve the neutral crisp look of Pure White. We suggest using different paint finishes to introduce subtle contrast between the surfaces: eggshell for walls, flat for ceilings, and satin or semi-gloss for trim and doors.
Pure White walls can be paired with other white trims, but it has its risks. Differences in their brightness and undertone may cause your “Pure White” walls to appear darker/brighter, warmer/cooler, or yellower/bluer than you intended. Refer to the graphics in the next section to get an idea of what we mean. If you’re intent on choosing a contrasting white, we suggest High Reflective White (SW 7757).
Comparing SW Pure White to other popular whites
As much as we love Pure White, it’s not the only white paint with die-hard fans. In fact, we’ve got a round-up of the 12 most popular white paints. Let’s take a look at how it compares to some others you may be considering so that you can select the white paint that’s best for your space.
Note: We are using the paint manufacturers’ website colors to compare these white paints because they are a helpful apple-to-apples contrast. However please be sure to view each color in person for a better idea of how they will work with one another. And, as always, it’s recommended that you test a new paint color on your wall before painting your full space. You can also order pre-printed paint sample stickers, which is a quick, easy, and affordable way to test these popular whites:
SW Pure White vs BM Pure White
Believe it or not, Benjamin Moore also has a paint color called “Pure White.” That’s why, to avoid confusion, we’ve typed Sherwin-Williams about a billion times in the post. The names may be the same, but the colors aren’t! Benjamin Moore’s Pure White (OC-64) is cooler AND darker than Sherwin-Williams’ version. It has blue-gray undertones and a lower LRV of 78, so it can appear more like a light gray than a crisp white.
SW Pure White vs SW Alabaster
Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster (SW 7008) is a decidedly warmer and creamier white than SW Pure White. It is still bright and crisp, so it’s a good alternative for north-facing rooms or spaces without much natural light. Pure White might appear cooler in those conditions. However, Alabaster can look more like an antique or off-white, especially in rooms with a good amount of natural light or South-facing rooms that tend to be warmer.
SW Pure White vs SW High Reflective White
As the name suggests, Sherwin-Williams High Reflective White (SW 7757) is one of the brightest, cleanest white paints available. It is too stark on walls for our taste, but some find it to be the perfect crisp, colorless white – especially in dark spaces like pantries or closets. It also can be useful as a trim color for other whites, like Pure White.
SW Pure White vs SW Snowbound
Sherwin Williams Snowbound (SW 7004) is another popular warm white, but because of its red undertones it tends to appear pinker than Pure White. We used Snowbound for the exterior trim of our old home because it complemented the red tones of the brick. So while it may pair well with reddish wood flooring or cabinets, Pure White tends to be a better choice for a clean white look.
SW Pure White vs BM Simply White
We consider Benjamin Moore Simply White (OC-117) to be sort of like “our starter white paint.” For years we used it on trim and cabinets because its name implied a pure, basic white. However, its yellow undertones became more pronounced over time (literally, over 7 years on the wall in our previous house we watched the color yellow over time!), and we’ve turned to Pure White now instead. It is still a good warm white, especially against popular greige wall colors like Edgecomb Gray. And in the 4 years that we have had it on our walls here in this home, there is zero yellowing at all.
SW Pure White vs BM Chantilly Lace
Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace (OC-65) is another popular crisp white paint color. It is brighter and cooler than Pure White, due to its noticeable blue undertones. While not as bright as Highly Reflective White, it can feel too stark for some people, making it a safer choice for trim and cabinets than walls.
SW Pure White vs BM White Dove
Benjamin Moore White Dove has a nearly identical LRV to Pure White, making them extremely similar matches if you plan to purchase a Benjamin Moore paint. White Dove does skew a bit yellower than Pure White, but the extra bit of warmth makes it a solid choice for a whole house white paint, if you want it to be a bit warmer.
SW Pure White vs SW Extra White
We’ve used Sherwin-William Extra White (SW 7006) as a whole house trim color with great success. Like SW Pure White, it is one of Sherwin-Williams’ “Expert Picks.” It is a tiny bit brighter and cooler than Pure White, which is why we opted not to use it as a whole-house white paint. I think we could have been very happy with it, but honestly, the name scared us off a bit because it seemed like it could have been a little too stark and blinding.
What Benjamin Moore color is a good match for SW Pure White?
Benjamin Moore considers Super White and Chantilly Lace to be their “purest” white paints with the fewest undertones. Both are both a bit brighter than SW Pure White, so we also suggest considering Oxford White.
White walls aren’t for everyone. Even we used to worry they were too stark, too modern, and maybe too boring. So this house was actually the first time we went ALL IN on white walls, and we have zero regrets – especially thanks to SW Pure White. It’s warm enough to avoid being overly bright or blue. Its versatility has allowed us to incorporate lots of different accent colors, bright artwork, warm woods, and brass metal tones. We couldn’t be happier.
Hopefully this deep dive into our favorite white will give you the confidence to try it the next time you’re looking for that “perfect white paint color.”
More paint colors we love
You can check out more of our favorite, go-to paint colors by touring our homes in the menu above (here’s the home featured in this post) or browsing our Painting Projects section. We’ve also written deep-dives on some of our favorite paints:
- Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
- Benjamin Moore Simply White
- Sherwin-Williams Extra White
- The 12 Best White Paint Colors
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