What is Light Reflectance Value

If you ever wondered what’s that LRV number on paint colour chips please read below.

On my latest renovation, one thing that was really helpful in choosing my wall colour was the light reflectance value. After sampling few other colours, I choose Classic gray from Benjamin Moore and the deciding factor was the LRV.

What is Light Reflectance Value 

LRV measures the percentage of light a color reflects and it runs on a scale from 0% (absolute black) to 100% (perfectly reflective white) and all colors fit within these extremes. In other words, black has an LRV of 0 because it absorbs all light and white has an LRV of 100 because it reflects all light. Take a look at the picture below:


In practice, the blackest black has an LRV of 5% and the whitest white is in the low 90 value. The higher the LRV, the lighter the color will be.

Let’s take dark colours as an example. If a color has an LRV of 10, that color will reflect 10% of the light that’s given and it absorbs 90% of it. Below what you see is PPG1061-7 Bigfoot with an LRV of 10 used in well lighted living room and beside you can see all the colors within the same color swatch.


Irish Cream is very light with an LRV of 80, great as a trim colour and if I would consider an easy, monochromatic colour scheme my pick for the walls would be Belle Of The Ball with an LRV of 63 witch is still on the light side and perhaps Safari Brown as an accent (LRV 17). But of course it all depends on everyone’s colour preference.

Keeping in mind that light reflectance value runs from 0% to 100% and 50% will be the mid-value guideline, everything under 50% will absorb more light than it reflects and the color tent to be darker while everything over 50% will reflect more light than it absorbs and tent to be lighter.

Every color swatch has an array of colours from the same color family and it goes from very light (high LRV) to very dark (low LRV) and everything in between. When sampling paint colors pay attention to LRV as you try different hues, tints, tones and shades and you will find your colour selections more efficient.

Below are some picture of the home I just finished renovating, painted in Classic Grey OC-26 and I choose to paint the entire house with this colour due to the versatility of it. With an LRV of about 74, Classic grey is a soft gray color that reads white in rooms where white paint colors just don’t work. This is a great color for every exposure – North, South, East or West. In North facing rooms it looks warm gray and it holds its own hue in East and West facing rooms, any time of day.  It looks like a nice soft white in South facing rooms. It’s fabulous.


If you consider working with yellows, please keep in mind that yellow is one of the most reflective colors and when deciding on this hue – due to its visual intensity – I would recommend to take in consideration the intensity of the color more than the LRV and go for more muted tones.



Why is LRV important 

For interiors, it provides a reference as to how light or dark a color can look once you paint the room. It also helps when working with contrast.

For exteriors, painting vinyl siding with a color with low LRV can result in wrapped siding. It is very important to consider the light reflectance value of your existing vinyl siding colour if you plan on repainting it and do not go any darker than your actual color.

For choosing your light fixtures, LRV is a key in calculating how many lights and what bulb types are needed to give a specific amount a light for interiors. The lower your colour’s LRV, the more lights you will need for your space.