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Colors: Cool Greys Versus Warm Greys

Warm and Cool Grays

Just yesterday, I was meeting with a client and the subject of the color grey came up. We were looking at stone and what mortar color we should use with various colors of stone. You might automatically think of mortar as being grey. But there are many shades of mortar and many shades of grey. Some of them can clash and result in a mismatched look.

Greys, and actually all colors, are grouped into two types, cool and warm. Cool greys have underlying blue tints. Warm greys have underlying tan or yellow tints. It’s easy to remember the terms if you think of ice being cold and blue while wood is brown and warm.

One common example of grey tones is seen most automobile interiors. We don’t have many choices of interior colors for cars these days. The choice is usually limited to black, tan, or grey. The tan is essentially a warm grey and the grey that is usually used is a cool, bluish grey. To get an idea of how greys can clash, imagine if you had a cool grey interior in your car and the door to the glove compartment was tan. Anyone with good color vision would readily see that something was wrong.  A warm grey mortar would look just as bad if it was used with a bluish grey stone on your house. Similarly, a cool grey grout would look bad with yellow or brown tile on your bathroom floor.

These same principles apply to all color selections. Match warm colors with warm colors and cool colors with cool colors.

Bill Hirsch

Bill Hirsch

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