In this article, you will learn about Harbor Gray, Smoke Gray, and Lava Gray colors including a side-by-side comparison. If you are considering either of these colors, the following information will help you make the right decision.
Harbor Gray vs Smoke Gray vs Lava Gray
Working with different shades of gray in your home can quickly become confusing; depending on the color you pair it with, some grays tend toward blue while others lean toward a deep tan.
To make sure that your gray choice will work with the current color scheme in your home, it may be best to paint a large plain canvas with the color and move it around the space at different times of day so you can be sure that the shade doesn’t create unhelpful contrasts.
It’s also important to remember that matching color names don’t necessarily mean you’ll get matching colors.
Each color below is linked to the manufacturer’s name for clarity.
If you’re looking for a less saturated gray that will work well both with browns and wood tones, Benjamin Moore’s Harbor Gray is a wise choice.
This is the palest shade of gray in this review and would work well as a neutral in a family room, kitchen, or more formal living room.
Because this color is quite a bit lighter than other grays you may be considering, I cannot recommend it for bedrooms. While it’s neutral, there is a good chance that this color will chalk or become reflective as the natural light level drops.
If you need a very dark room to sleep well, this wall color may be problematic.
That being said, if you’ve been looking for a color to use that is more interesting than beige but not much more saturated, Harbor Gray could serve.
Pay special attention to that small gap between red and blue in the RGB number for this color. This is a shade that will stay gray against strong or primary colors.
If you absolutely love your bright blue towels but want a gray for your bathroom walls, this color will hold its own rather than tending toward a yellow-beige because of the contrast.
RGB: 201, 200, 195
Hex Code: #C9C8C3
The rich shade Smoke Gray by Benjamin Moore is a color that gets more interesting as the shadows appear. This is a cool, deeply saturated gray color.
Pay special attention to that coolness when applying this color to a large wall expanse. Depending on what you put near this color, it will either continue to read gray or it will lean toward navy blue.
This color will work well with pastels as long as they’re blended. A pale turquoise or peach would pair very well with this shade, as would a light lilac. A light shade of red, yellow, or blue will bring out the blue hue in this color and turn your gray wall into navy.
Do your very best to keep yellow away from Smoke Gray. Pale maple or light oak flooring will draw out the contrasting shade of blue from this color, as will an ivory trim color.
This color would be an ideal addition to a textured wall. If you like to play with paint additives, you could also add silica to this color to create a velvety texture.
If you’ve got a good eye and can maintain steady pressure with a very thick nap roller, you could also get this color in a chalkboard paint formulation.
Be aware that such a rich, dark color will likely take more than 2 coats. If you choose to add a texture with this color, give yourself plenty of time and many breaks.
Thick rollers are heavy rollers when they’re all loaded up with paint. You may start to apply more pressure than you intended and create stripes along the edge of the roller.
As possible, apply textured paint in full daylight. If you can’t, go ahead and place a work light on the floor and shoot the beam diagonally across the surface you’re painting.
Textured paint, chalkboard paint and paint applied with a thick nap roller will flatten out once on the wall, but it will also tend to drip.
Work from the ceiling down and make sure you check your work to catch and smooth out drips before they dry in place.
RGB: 118, 124, 131
Hex Code: #767C83
PPG’s Lava Gray is a lovely neutral with a cool edge. By the numbers, there is more blue than red, so this color will tend to read blue if you put it to work against a strong yellow tone.
Lava Gray would pair beautifully with other shades of gray. If you are interested in doing any of your own color blending, consider picking up a can or two of flat white in the same formulation; that is, oil with oil and latex with latex.
Visit a craft store and invest in a few unpainted squares of painter’s canvas. It can be tempting to use cardboard, but waxed white cardboard doesn’t absorb paint well and brown cardboard is yellow.
It can be hard to find your ideal gray in the face of that yellow background.
Start by dabbing white onto your canvas; you want a puddle to work with. Mix in small amounts of gray and stir with a disposable brush.
When you get a consistent sample, brush it onto a new canvas or on the corner of your mixing spot and let it dry for 24 hours. If you like the results, you can start to play with mixing bigger batches.
Thanks to the medium color saturation and the balance of this shade, it’s a color that would be very forgiving should you try some DIY blends.
Any time you’re trying to create a light shade of a deep color, make sure you add color to the white paint, rather than the other way around.
You can rapidly run out of white paint trying to lighten a very saturated shade.
Of course, you can just enjoy Lava Gray right out of the can! While this is a cool gray, it’s less likely to read navy than Smoke Gray as it’s not as saturated.
You can also keep this color in balance by lighting it with yellow light instead of a cool blue LED bulb.
Consider using other warm shades with this gray. This color would be an ideal background for
- burgundy or wine, preferably with a lot of texture
- olive green tones
- deep teal shades
If you use this color for an accent wall, do your best to let it fade into the background.
For example, if you want to put display shelves along your Lava Gray wall, paint the shelving the same color and light the items individually with the same bulb color and intensity rather than lighting the whole space.
This color is one of the few grays that will consistently back down, leaving your favorite pieces to stand out easily.
RGB: 94, 104, 109
Hex Code: 5E686D