Light-Base Paint Color vs. Medium-Base Paint

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Light-Base Paint Color vs. Medium-Base Paint
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It's impossible for paint stores to stock every color of paint. However, a paint store can mix any paint color for you while you wait, thanks to paint bases. An endless spectrum of paint colors are created by mixing specific quantities of one or more colorants with a tintable paint base. Paint bases range from clear to deep, creating paint colors to accommodate any painting project.


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A tintable paint base is used to form the foundation for a particular color. Assorted paint bases typically offered by paint manufacturers include: white, pastel, light, medium, deep and clear. Clear bases are used to create darker colors, while white bases make the lightest colors. A light base creates a lighter color than a medium base. Paint base determines how resistant a paint is to dirt and stains, as well as its durability under intense scrubbing.

Titanium Dioxide

All tintable base paints contain titanium dioxide in various quantities, except clear base, which doesn't have any. Titanium dioxide determines how effectively a paint conceals the previous surface color. Tintable base paints containing larger amounts of titanium dioxide hide surfaces better than bases with smaller quantities. While light bases are more opaque than medium bases, white bases have the most titanium dioxide with the most complete coverage. Dark paints created from bases with little or no titanium dioxide provide less opaque coverage.



One or more colorants added to a tintable base creates a specific color. Saturated colorants mixed into a white base form a lighter version, or tint, of the pure saturated colorant. For example, if a burnt-umber colorant is added to a white base, the result would likely be a very light beige color. A light base produces a slightly darker beige and a medium base results in an even darker beige color. Colorants also determine how much a color will fade.

Other Considerations

Ask a painting professional to determine whether a light or medium tintable base is better suited for your painting project. A light base will typically provide more opaque coverage than a medium base. However, a medium base can create a deeper color than a light base. Additives, such as mildewcides to inhibit mold growth and thickeners to help guard against paint drips and spatters, are often incorporated into base paints. More expensive paints often contain the highest level of quality ingredients.