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Mobile Match: On-site Color matching

renosteinke's picture

Just returned from my local Sherwin-Williams, where I found a new gizmo on the counter.

Called "Mobile Match," it's a pocket-sixed thing that you press against a surface ... and, a moment later, it tells you what S-W color matches the surface. Cost is under $60.

While I find some internet evidence that this thing has been around at least 1-1/2 years, only this week did it reach my area.

It's not perfect, and color chips are not always available for comparison. Any surface with multiple colors - wood grain, bare masonry, etc. - can be tricky. You'll need to take multiple readings and compare multiple chips to be certain of your 'best' match.

Look through the FHB "Great Moments" series, and you'll even find a story about the homeowner who learned the hard way that there was 'purple' in his stone house :D

I've seen references to it (post #211742, reply #1 of 3)

I've seen references to it and similar toys tools, but never played with one.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

So Far, So Good (post #211742, reply #2 of 3)

Well, I just completed my first job using the 'mobile match.'

The job was to paint some siding. The front of the house had the lower four feet or so faced with a heavilt textured 'yellow' brick. The idea was to continue a band of the brick color around the house.

I took many, many color samples of (clean) brick before I was able to see a pattern emerge. The selected paint was actually -surprise- a medium brown. Yet, a sample of the paint did appear to be a reasonably close match when viewed under proper conditions.

I have just finished painting this band, and the effort was a success. To a casual glance, it does appear that the brick color continues around the house.

Before using the "Mobile Match,"  I had several people select 'matches' from books of paint chips. Not only was there a great difference of opinion in the selections, but none of the matches were even close to what the machine picked.

In my usual work -electrical work- I often have to match things. Most often, I am either matching other equipment, or repairing damage. Being able to identify the colors in the field is a real asset ... you simply can't get away painting a GE panel "Square D gray!"

Use With Caution (post #211742, reply #3 of 3)

For my wall, I took dozens of samples before selecting a color. The end result was pleasant enough, though overall it appears somewhat darker than the brick. I attribute this difference to the extreme texture of the brick.

Yet ....

Using the tool on a block wall, freshly painted with a Sherwin-Williams beige color, every reading came back as some sort of gray. Not reassuring at all!

A painter told me of a similar device he used some years ago, from PPG. He also had some matching issues. Perhaps it is a question of how many hues are held in the device's memory.

I have not had a chance to compare the tool to known paint chips; perhaps I'll have some fun with a return visit to the dealer :D