When I was testing paint colors on our kitchen cabinets, someone asked me why I was investing time in testing paint vs. just using peel & stick paint samples. There’s many pros & cons to each method, but the real paint method was 100% the way to go for this particular scenario. Here’s why:
Peel & Stick Paint Samples
- Time saving (somewhat – read to the bottom)
- No surface prep needed – saves time on sanding, priming, etc – you just place them on & you’re done
- One coat – no multiple coats needed, saving even more time
- Easy clean up – Most are guaranteed not to cause any damage to the surface they’re being tested on, so once you remove them, there should be no sign they were ever there. This is especially great if you’re having company over or don’t want to stare at obscure marks of paint until the job is 100% complete
- Cost Effective:
- Sometimes cheaper than paint samples: Samplize is one of the leading manufacturers of peel & stick paint samples. Each tile is $5.95, vs. paint samples from Benjamin Moore are $9 & Home Depot generally ~$1-5.
- No other supplies needed: if you don’t own paint brushes, primer, etc., you don’t need to invest in any other supplies. Especially great if you’re outsourcing the full job.
- Reusable – the tiles can be repositioned many times, so you can try in different lighting in the same room, up against different tiles or trim, or repurpose for a different project.
- Mess free: have kids running around and a dog that loves to walk through paint? It’s rather difficult for them to mess these up (Bonus: if the kids take them off the wall, they’re just helping expedite the clean up)
- Time saving (somewhat – read to the bottom)
- Color variation in final product – While there’s only two cons, this is a big one, and I can’t stress how important it is. Anytime you’re painting, if the material you’re applying paint to (ie the substrate) is different in any way, the color will be off in the final product. It some cases the variation will be minor so you won’t even notice, but in other cases it will be huge. It’s often why the paint will show up different on the beautiful color swatch from the store vs. when the paint comes home and makes it way onto your wall/furniture etc. Also why if you use the exact same paint on 2 different surfaces it will look different. Unless you were painting on the exact same paper from the exact same manufacturer, the substrate is different. (Light also plays a role, but that’s a different topic for a different day!) If you decide to go the peel & stick route, I would strongly recommend doing a test spot with real paint on the true surface before you commit to the entire job. Therefore, some of the time + cost savings you benefitted from earlier, might be lost after all.
- Quality: If you go this route, make sure you’re investing in a good sample directly from the manufacturer or a reputable vendor that uses original manufacturer’s paint. I’ve seen horrible reviews on some of the cheaper/homemade ones on Etsy/Amazon/etc in terms of leaving residue, not coming off, etc. Additionally, if they’re not using the original manufacturer paint and just pulling swatches from the internet, as we learned above, the sample is not going to be 100% reflective of the true color.
- Color match perfection: This is HUGE. I’m going to be a broken record here, but the best way to get the TRUE color is to paint on the actual surface/substrate you’re painting on. This is particularly important if you’re working on a complex surface (ie concrete, painting over stained wood, going from light to dark or dark to light, etc.).
- Time savings: Since I’d strongly recommend testing with real paint before 100% committing to the full project, technically you’ll save time if you just start here to begin with. If you already know you want navy paint & are testing 50 shades of navy to get the absolute best most perfect match, save yourself the time + cost and start here.
- Reuse for other testing / projects / touch ups: It’s nice to have a small testing can of your final color for any touch ups that are needed over time vs. breaking out the large paint can. Additionally, if you seal the sample can well, you can use the same testing paint for years to come (long after the stickiness wore off of the peel & stick sample). Additionally, I’ve been able to paint entire pieces of furniture with leftover samples. Possibilities are endless!
- Motivation: This is personal one for me, but once I test an area, its great motivation to get the full project completed. Its my ‘big commitment’ to the project since there’s no turning back at that point, seeing the testing spots would drive me nuts, both helping kick the project into full gear for me.
- Time investment – basically the opposite of all of the peel & stick ‘pros’ above. You’ve got to sand, prime, prep & clean up after.
If you’re early on in the process & trying to decide between very different colors – ie navy blue vs. hunter green vs. deep red, I’d recommend starting with the peel & stick to get your pallet down. Then, when you’re ready to pick the absolute most perfect shade of paint, nothing beats the real thing. I already knew I wanted a creamy white for these kitchen cabinets, so I could skip that first step.
Good luck with your project – you’ve got this!