6 best black paints, tried and tested by interior designers

Black paint can be daunting, but pick the right shade and you can create the chicest cocooning spaces

best black paint
(Image credit: Folding Chair Design/Farrow & Ball/Tess Interiors)

Black paint sounds daunting. But I think it's been hard done by, seen as a paint where a lot can go wrong, it's more of a commitment than a neutral and has the potential to make rooms feel smaller and darker. But, even as someone who has rarely strayed from a pure white paint, I have been seeing so many gorgeous examples of dark inky black rooms recently that have me tempted. 

These rooms have so much interest, so much depth, and feel so brave and sophisticated. And I want in. So how do you find the best black paint to embrace this color trend for moodier hues? Ask interior designers who have tried and tested hundreds of different options for their favorite picks. 

The best black paints, according to interior designers 

I think the key to choosing a black paint that doesn't feel too gothic, too intense, too dramatic that it totally overwhelms the room, is to go soft. Stick with almost black. And designers clearly agree as so many of these best black paint recommendations are in fact, technically not black at all, but a very deep gray or blue or brown. 

1. Iron Ore, Sherwin-Williams

black mid century modern kitchen cabinets by davis interiors

(Image credit: Davis Interiors)

'I often find myself turning to classic black paints to add depth and sophistication to my clients' spaces. One of my top choices is Iron Ore by Sherwin-Williams. Its deep, rich hue with undertones of charcoal and dark brown adds depth and warmth to any room. Whether used on accent walls, cabinetry, or exteriors, Iron Ore never fails to create a dramatic yet timeless backdrop,' explains designer Jennifer Davis

Sherwin-Williams describes Iron Ore as a 'mysterious charcoal', so it's actually not quite a true black, more like a very very deep gray. This does mean there's a softness to it that makes using it, even in large amounts, less intense and far more livable. 

2. Tricorn Black, Sherwin-Williams

Kitchen with statement marble wall and black island

(Image credit: Far Studio/Brian Wetzel)

'In addition to Iron Ore, I also love using Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams and Onyx by Benjamin Moore,' adds Jennifer. 'Tricorn Black offers a slightly cooler undertone, perfect for achieving a sleek, contemporary look perfect for exterior paint, while Onyx boasts a luxurious, velvety finish that adds a touch of glamour. Whether I'm looking to create contrast or make a bold statement, these black paints are my go-to choices for adding sophistication and style to my client's homes.'

Designer Mark Shubert founder of Phillip Harrison Interiors agrees, 'Our favorite black paints to use are Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black for a classic black look.' And like Jennifer, Mark also recommends 'Iron Ore for a softer black tone and Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal for a warmer black tone.'

And Brittany Hakimfar of Far Studio also agrees Tricorn Black is a top contender, she used the paint in the space above and says, 'Sherwin Williams Tricorn black is my go-to black!'

3. Pitch Black, Farrow & Ball

Black kitchen with marble countertop and wooden beams

(Image credit: Tess Interiors)

Farrow & Ball make some glorious black paints, all of which have a lovely depth and softness to them. Of course, Railings is an ever-popular shade with a blue undertone, and that paint came up a lot when talking with designers. But Pitch Black, their 'strong and uncomplicated' black paint, which is pretty close to a true also got a mention. 

'I love Pitch Black by Farrow and Ball,' says Tess Twiehaus of Tess Interiors. 'We painted the exterior of the barn this color in our New York project and I just love that it's a true black that doesn't distract from its surroundings. My second favorite black, which was also used in that project, is Farrow and Ball’s Railings. The cabinetry is oak and we wanted to see the wood grain up close, but we used Railings as the control sample for the stain.'

4. Deep Caviar, Benjamin Moore

dining room with built in black cabinetry

(Image credit: Folding Chair Design)

'For trim and doors, our go to is still Sherwin Williams Black Magic.  It’s just the purest, blackest black.  It looks good in most light and it has a warm undertone so it doesn’t feel stark,' explains Jennifer Walter, founder of Folding Chair Design.

'But for walls, we love Benjamin Moore Deep Caviar, she continues. 'Despite its name, it feels more like a fine wine than even caviar! The properties change in varying light, showing glints of red or purple, then switching to browner tones with less light.  It’s a quite subjective color, where the onlooker can see different depths of color within it, making it much more interesting than a straight black.'

5. Midsummer Night, Benjamin Moore

Black paneled accent wall

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

'I love Midsummer Night from Benjamin Moore as a black paint color that feels a bit softer and less intense,' says designer Kathy Kuo. 'This color has undertones of gray and mahogany brown so it's super layered and luxurious. I find that it adds a depth to a space rather than heaviness or darkness, and it's perfect for an accent wall in an organic modern living room or dining room, or even for a cozy space like a den or study.'

6. Wrought Iron, Benjamin Moore

Pink room with dark black door

(Image credit: Bethany Adams)

'I love to use Benjamin Moore's Wrought Iron on window mullions and doors,' suggested designer Bethany Adams. 'It's a soft, lived-in black that never grabs attention making it perfect for this supporting character type of application.'

In fact, this is a great way to experiment with black paints if you want to ground a room and add some depth without painting whole walls. Focus on your doors, trims, and windows to add just a touch of drama.

Black paint needn't be a daunting decorating idea, pick the right shade for your spaces and it can be as soft and inviting as a pale neutral. I would always, always recommend ordering samples before you commit though, much like a white paint, a black paint is rarely truly black and there will be plenty of different undertones that will come out in different ways depending on lighting and the rest of the color scheme.

Head of Interiors

I am the Head of Interiors at Homes & Gardens. I started off in the world of journalism in fashion and luxury travel and then landed my first interiors role at Real Homes and have been in the world of interior design ever since. Prior to my role at H&G I was the digital editor at Livingetc, from which I took a sabbatical to travel in my self-converted van (not as glamorous as decorating a home, but very satisfying). A year later, and with lots of technical DIY lessons learned I am back to writing and editing, sometimes even from the comfort of my home on wheels.