Light Reflectance Value: What Do Those Numbers Mean?

Light Reflectance Value: What Do Those Numbers Mean?

shedding light on the situation: what is LRV?

A color's Light Reflectance Value (LRV) measures the amount of visible and usable light that reflects from (or absorbs into) a painted surface. Simply put, LRV measures the percentage of light a paint color reflects.

light reflectance value LRV is measured on a scale that ranges from zero (absolute black, absorbing all light and heat) to 100 percent (pure white, reflecting all light). Building and design professionals (everyone from architects and engineers to interior designers and color consultants) use these measurements as guidelines to predict how light or dark a color will appear. The values are also used by lighting designers to calculate the number and type of light fixtures needed to provide a certain amount of light for interior spaces.

The Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) recommends a 70% light reflectance value or higher for those with impaired vision, but this is not a strict requirement. There are a number of color combinations in the 60-70% range that work well.

Knowing a color’s LRV is helpful when coordinating colors or creating a mood. (It also helps businesses, schools, and homes stay energy efficient – choosing a color with a larger LRV probably won’t require as much lighting or air conditioning as a color that soaks up light and warms easily.)

examples of LRV

Monet Magic 0665 - LRV 66
Monet Magic, a soft blue from the ColorEssentials Collection, adds a splash of cool color above this bedroom's wainscoting. Monet Magic has an LRV of 66, so it reflects much of the room's natural and artificial light. Colors with an LRV above 50 are lighter and bounce back more light than they absorb. Higher LRVs help create an illuminated, "daytime" feel.

Weaver's Tool 0177 - LRV 25
The walls of this open dining room gain welcoming warmth with Weaver's Tool, a warm brown from the ColorEssentials Collection. Weaver's Tool has an LRV of 25 -- much lower than Monet Magic. Any LRV less than 50 will be on the darker side -- soaking up more light than it reflects. Additional lighting, such as the fixture above the table, is necessary to add more light to the room, since the walls absorb much of it. The color's low LRV creates an intimate dining space, while a color with a higher LRV might make the room seem more expansive.

where to find a color's lrv Now that you know the importance of LRV, remember where to find the number! Diamond Vogel has made it easy with three ways to find each color's distinct LRV:
Back of Color Samples: 
Browsing paint samples? Check for the LRV on the back of our color samples or indexed in the back of our fandeck.
Diamond Vogel's Color Information Center:  Hatching a plan? Our Color Information Center is an easy-to-use online database that allows you to sort by paint number, paint name, or LRV percentage.
Diamond Vogel's Color Finder: Looking online? Visit the Color Finder, an interactive, visually-enhanced spot to learn important details about each color, including the LRV.

reflect on this: A paint color's LRV is commonly looked over, but by understanding the number's value (pun intended!), you can simplify your selection process and be on your way to uncovering the best color for your space.