I recently painted the exterior of my brick home but only after spending over a year & a half researching different whites to find the perfect white. For being such a simple color, the complexities of white are endless. White appearing on a 1" x 2" swatch is very different than its appearance on the mass of the entire elevation of your home and can deceive even the keenest eye.
I started with my favorite designers and combed through thousands of photos while reading their descriptions of the colors and their characteristics. I knocked on doors and asked homeowners what color they had used, I even peeked in the garages of white houses I had listed to see what brand & name was on any remaining cans of paint.
What I learned...
It's important to look at whites in the morning, in the afternoon & in the evening as well as when it is sunny & when it is overcast. It's helpful to see your white sample in as large of an area as is feasible so painting a sample board or portion of the facade.
Understanding the LRV or Light Reflectance Value will provide another comparative measurement when evaluating whites. The LRV scale ranges from 0 - 100 with 0 equaling absolute black which absorbs all the light and 100 = pure white which reflects all the light.
How do you find the LRV for a specific paint & color? That is a bit tricky and depends upon the maker. For example, Benjamin Moore will feature it on their website or if using the fan deck, will feature it on the index for that paint color. Sherwin Williams will also feature it on the website under the details for each color and if using the fan deck, it will be on the back of each color.
I found there is a wealth of designers that have done a lot of research & compiled very helpful information that made it easier for me to understand what I was looking for...I think when I started my search it was very much like the Supreme Court's definition of pornography - difficult to define but you'll know it when you see it. I started looking for the perfect white simply trusting that I would know it when I saw it.
Below are a few resources that I found very helpful:
One of my favorite designers, Becki Owens, has an excellent white paint guide.
Brick & Batten has a virtual exterior preview option.
Room For Tuesday features several inspiring exterior combinations.
Life On Summerhill has a great summary of the popular colors by Sherwin Williams that you have heard the names of over and over again...Accessible Beige, Alabaster, Snowbound, Agreeable Grey.
So what is the verdict of the best whites you ask? Below are the top whites (in no particular order) loved by designers for their versatility & ability to work in a variety of settings for interiors or exteriors:
1. Alabaster - Sherwin Williams (SW-7008)
2. Simply White - Benjamin Moore (OC-117)
3. Snowbound - Sherwin Williams (SW-7004)
4. Oyster - Sherwin Williams (SW-7637)
5. White Duck - Sherwin Williams (SW-7010)
Honorable mentions: Shoji White, Greek Villa & Natural Choice, all by Sherwin Williams
If you are selecting a paint color for a wall, room, furniture, door or exterior let the choice be fun...not stressful, that's why it's called the creative process, it's a process and there is no single right choice!