how to use dulux colour codes by Holly Bryan

Have you ever seen a Dulux colour code such as 30YY68/024 ? Well those numbers and letters mean something as Dulux Colour Expert Holly Bryan explains:

All of the letters & numbers in the Dulux colour codes mean something. At work we use the annotation system to give us information on how the colour will look in a space.

The code can be broken into 3 parts:

1st Part of the Code: 2 numbers & 2 letters – this is the hue.
It helps me understand how they are categorised. It’s very handy for lots of things but one way I’d often use it is for whites, greys or extremely deep colours because it tells me their undertone & that lets me know more about how they will look painted out.

Example; If a grey has a YY (which stands for yellow yellow) hue you know it’s going to be a warm Grey. That means you can avoid it looking blue.
A white with a RR (red red) hue will be warm without looking yellow.

2nd Part of the Code: 2 numbers – this is the light reflectance value (LRV).
It tells us how much light is reflected from the surface of the colour. It is expressed as a percentage – so the number you see is x%. The darkest black that we have has an LRV of 5%, the lightest that I’ve found is 90%.

It’s my favourite bit of the code because it’s so useful for lots reasons. Here are just 3 examples;

It is required for certain public buildings to meet building regulations. There needs to be a specific jump between doors, floors & architraves to help people who are visually impaired.
It allows me to check that there is a good jump between colours from the same family if I’m doing a tonal scheme – if they are too close it might look like you had tried to match them up and it just went wrong!.
It allows me to work out how a new colour will react in a space by estimating the LRV of the current one & looking at what it is doing.

3rd Part of the Code: 3 numbers – this is the Chroma.
It’s the intensity of the colour. The higher the number the more intense the colour. It’ll look more vivid.
In a recent streetscape I kept all of the houses to a similar chromatic value so none jumped out and they all sat comfortably together.

So, after reading that, you can hopefully now read a code and be able to better imagine the colour 💅🏽

By Holly Eve Bryan

Be sure to follow Holly over on Instagram at @hollyevebryan for more amazing tips and advice!