Full Spectrum Colors: Ben Moore Color Stories vs DKC

Lately we’ve been getting questions about the difference between 2 full spectrum paints: Ben Moore’s Color Stories, and Donald Kaufman Color.
In this blog post we’re going to:
1) Show you visual differences
2) Explain it verbally
3) Explain the differences mathematically

Test 1: Color 1

We took the pigments that are added to the bases of these full spectrum colors, and dripped them into puddles (on paper plates).
There’s a black bar added to protect the intellectual property of Donald Kaufman. There are special tints and additives in DKC paints that are used to arrive at the color. It’s information we cannot disclose!

Notice the differences:
-The first obvious difference is the size of the puddles, in this case Ben Moore’s is much larger.
-Look at the amount of white and green in Color Stories. This is not “deep base” dark color, it’s an off-white.  There’s a lot of dark colors clashing with each other. The large amount of white will lessen their severity.
The most important part: Notice how there’s a better representation of the range of colors across the color spectrum (think of a rainbow) in the DKC color.
In another blog post it is referred to as “Spectral energy”. This does in fact translate to better “blending” of color elements in a room when it’s put up on a wall.


Test 2: Color 2

Again we’re using very similar off whites. They’re shown here in the picture below.
The DKC color is the larger background tile, the smaller one is the Color Stories color.
Note: The lighting in the room as well as the phone camera settings have made these colors appear very different from how they may look to your eyes in person!
A case like this serves as a reminder that using a computer screen or a phone camera to pick colors is problematic, the color accuracy and consistency from machine to machine just is not there.

Please note: In this test the significant quantity of white was left out of the Ben Moore puddle. As was the case in the last color, there was a lot of it and it would have migrated across the plate!

Notice the differences this time:
-In this case, the Color Stories color had less tint (when the large quantity of white was left out) than did its DKC counterpart.
-Now we see the pattern: The DKC Color again has a better representation of the full range of the color spectrum.


Explaining it mathematically:
In nature, colors have small quantities of every other color in its sum.  It’s not just an end color that matters when it comes to a full spectrum colors, it’s how we reach the color that makes all the difference.

A)   35 + 13 + 17  –  20  = 45
B)  5 + 8 + 9 + 10  + 13 = 45

Both A and B have the end result of 45, but equation A involved the use of large numbers and that big “subtraction” (of white) to get to 45.
In equation B, smaller numbers were used, more numbers were used, and there was no large subtraction at the end. In terms of color, B gives a truer representation of the color spectrum in the resulting color. It is also much more difficult to formulate, non-standard products and procedures were used.

“What do these differences mean for colors in my home?”
A true full spectrum color is supposed to “bind” the other color elements of a room- walls, wallpaper, furniture, etc. All of those things have their own color, all of those things reflect light. Those background colors will bring out different color elements in the paint, bringing out some of the “small numbers” that added to the sum of that paint color.
If you were to paint 2 identical rooms with the same full spectrum colors on the walls, but using other differing elements in the room – those two colors would actually look somewhat different. The DKC colors, due to their better composition, will do a better job of binding those elements, and it will do so with a broader range of colors. The paint, and ultimately the room, will look better.

In my own personal opinion the Donald Kaufman colors are a truer embrace of the full spectrum color concept, both in terms of formulation and end performance. More times than not, a comparison between a talented youngster and a world class veteran is not an even or fair comparison. This case is no different. Color Stories has the rotten luck of competing against the DKC line, attempting to play catch up to a masterpiece +25years in the making.

Despite this, I still like Color Stories. I personally think that it has great value, it still changes in different light sources (though not to the extent of the DKC colors), and it offers greater choice to paint buyers. It’s a step in the right direction for independent paint retailers, colors like these would be out of place sitting on the shelves of a “big box” outfit.  It adds extra value to Ben Moore’s Aura, which is a great paint to begin with. I rank the Color Stories colors over standard colors in Aura paint, and I rank Ben Moore’s Aura over many of the paints offered today. The combination is a good match.