What is Light Reflectance Value or LRV?

In simple terms, light reflectance value or LRV means how much light is reflected or absorbed from painted surfaces. It’s measured on a scale from zero (absolute black, absorbing all light and heat) to 100 (pure white, reflecting all light).

Sources of Light

Lighting can affect the appearance of any given color. You can paint two different rooms with the same color and it will look and feel like two different colors. So how exactly does lighting affect color so drastically? It’s actually pretty simple if you really think about it. There are many different types of light.

Artificial Light

  • Incandescent
  • Halogen
  • Fluorescent/CFL
  • LED

Temperature of Light

  • Warm White
  • Soft White
  • Cool White
  • Bright White
  • Daylight

Incandescent Bulbs:

Produces yellow light that intensifies warm colors but tends to dull cooler colors. These bulbs tend to warm up reds and yellows because the wavelengths of the artificial lights is warm.

Halogen Bulbs:

Produces brighter, white light that is most like sunlight.


  • Cool White & Bright White: Produces cool, blue light that intensifies blue and greens, but mutes warmer colors.
  • Warm White & Soft White: Produces soft, yellow light that tends to fade colors.
  • Daylight: This closely resembles natural sunlight allowing the color to show in it’s purest form.
  • Natural Sunlight: Even natural sunlight is not consistent. As the sun moves throughout the day, the light changes in intensity thus creating changes in the appearance of the color.

To give you an example, “if a client has incandescent light fixtures in a room where they want blue walls, you’ll have to make color adjustments when it comes to picking the paint, such as selecting a blue hue that has been toned with red” explains Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert with the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute.

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Quality & Sheen of Paint

The higher the gloss level, the higher the light reflectance value – more light will bounce off a surface painted with a high gloss paint than one with a matte sheen. As a rule, higher gloss paints tend to enrich and brighten color. Use the guide below to choose the right paint sheen for any area! If you need help choosing the right paint color, click here.

Sheen Guide

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