Although vast differences exist between painting for a residential home and painting for a commercial location, a few areas of similarity can be found. One of those areas of convergence is in color matching.
Color matching is the practice of selecting colors that most closely resemble other colors found in an environment. In a residential setting, this may done by the home owner or a professional decorator, who will likely use a series of color swatches to find the right hues to use in a design.
In large scale public places such as hotel or hospital lobbies, arena reception areas and convention centers, color matching to the carpeting, drapes or other design elements needs to be done accurately and efficiently. Even more important for color matching in commercial settings is a high degree of reproducibility, especially for chain retail stores that must present a brand identity.
In order to deliver color matching at commercial scales, some paint manufacturers such as Sherwin-Williams use a spectrophotometer to match colors under controlled conditions. A spectrophotometer is a computer that is able to differentiate between very fine shadings of color, and is able to so more quickly and accurately than the human eye.
Using sample swatches of carpet, fabrics and other materials from a public setting, a spectrophotometer is able to recommend color matches that complement the hue and intensity of the colors present in the samples. This leaves the painting contractor free to focus on the performance aspects of the paints needed for a project.