RAL Numbers and Farrow and Ball Colours

RAL Numbers and Farrow and Ball Colours

We are getting asked more and more about RAL numbers or codes and their relation to designer paint manufacturers colours such as Farrow and Ball and Little Greene. 

RAL numbers and Farrow and Ball colours are two completely different things. There might be some F&B colours that look close to RAL codes but they are separate colour charts and come from completely different places.

RAL codes were developed in Germany in 1927 by ReichsausschuB Fur Leiferbedingungen. A little bit like our BS or British Standard codes, 12B15 for example, the RAL chart created a standard, uniformed language for colour. The codes should always be the same colour no matter which brand of paint they are tinted into (Dulux, Crown etc), meaning no matter where you get your RAL colour from it should be the same as it's a standard colour (within tinting machine tolerance), regardless of any name it may have been given, RAL 7016 for example will always be that colour and will never change. 

So without going into too much detail, RAL codes have been around a lot longer that Farrow and Ball for example, there is no real mystery to them and there are hundreds of them and several different ranges, the most common ranges are Classic and Design.

Farrow and Ball develop their own colours, using their own paints, inspiration and manufacturing methods. So if someone tells you Pigeon for example has an equivalent RAL code, this simply is not true. There maybe a RAL code that looks close, but there is no direct correlation between RAL colours and other brands paint colours.

Farrow and Ball do not allow any colours other than their own to be tinted into Farrow and Ball paints, however Little Greene and Fenwick and Tilbrook do have RAL codes on their tinting systems and they are currently available in these brands.

BS and RAL codes have been used in paints for many years to stop colours losing their identity or changing over time, it keeps them standard. Useful for companies or people who want to paint all of their outlets in the same colour, they could pick a RAL or BS number and use it year after year, and no matter where they get their paint from the colour should be consistent across brands, paint finish and sizes. The last thing they want is shops, or signage all in slightly different colours. So for this purpose RAL and BS numbers are perfect.

We see confusion with HEX Codes and Pantone Colours. The thing to remember is that these are not paint colour codes. HEX codes are what a computer uses to display a certain colour on the screen. Pantone colours are ink colours used in printing. We can't for example put a HEX or Pantone colour into a paint tinting machine and get a colour from it. These colour codes are used for different purposes, not for tinting paint.

Hopefully this helps with knowing where paint colours come from and what are paint colours and not.


W McNeice



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