Sherwin Williams iron ore is a very popular dark, inky, charcoal gray paint color that is beautiful on exteriors. It’s also a fantastic option for a moody accent wall or even on cabinets. Let it be known, iron ore is a very dark color; it’s almost black. It has just a touch of gray/blue undertones making it the perfect option if you’re looking for something that’s not quite as harsh as black.
Let’s do a deep-dive on the color iron ore by Sherwin Williams so you can decide if it’s the right color for your next home project!
Sherwin Williams Iron Ore
Because iron ore is such a dark color, typically it’s best used as accent walls, on smaller cabinetry in bathrooms such as vanities, exteriors, or when used in combination with wainscoting that is painted a white to provide a nice contrast. In a quaint hearth room or smaller study room, even painting the ceiling can be a really cool way to add some depth and moodiness without painting all the walls dark. You don’t want to overdo a dark color like iron ore because it will feel too dark and overwhelming, so smaller spaces or limited walls are best.
Iron ore is considered a dark dark gray, but in certain light or when paired with other colors, it can pick up varying undertones and look slightly different, as with all paint colors.
Iron Ore Undertones
The trickiest thing about picking ANY paint color is the undertone. Undertone can be affected how the light hits it, the rest of the color palette and more. A paint color can look like a true gray in the hardware store when looking at paint swatches, but when you test a sample on your wall, it can look totally different. This is why I always say you must test your paint colors before committing and painting your entire wall! You will save yourself a lot of extra work and stress 🙂
When iron ore is used in a warm palette with white trim and warm light wood, it clearly looks dark gray. If your room has plenty of natural light, you may pick up a little blue/navy undertone. On rare occasions you may even catch a hint of purple undertone depending on the light and its surrounding colors.
When we remodeled our kitchen in our home a year ago, we also updated the small family room off the dining room. The house had an existing corner fireplace with a wood mantle and surround. I wanted to paint it because the dark wood felt dated. I wanted to go dark on the fireplace since our walls were all white. I went back and forth whether I wanted to go with tricorn black by Sherwin Williams which is a more true black or if iron ore was best. I went with iron ore and while painting it I was surprised how blue it looked. This room gets a ton of natural light because we have big french doors leading to our backyard and it’s east facing. The abundance of light and the creamy white on the walls pulls a hint of blue out of iron ore. I like the creaminess and softness it has; it’s not harsh at all like a true black.
Iron ore has an LRV of 6. LRV stands for light reflection value, the higher the number the lighter the color and the more light it reflects. 6 is very low, but black has an LRV of 0. So it’s not as dark as a true black and with the naked eye you can still visually see the difference from iron ore to black.
Iron Ore vs. Tricorn Black
Tricorn black by Sherwin Williams is a very popular black for doors, trim, stair railings, and exteriors. It has an LRV of 3 so it’s 3 shades darker than iron ore, but it’s still not quite a true black. If you want a color that’s darker than iron ore and looks black to the naked eye, tricorn black might be the one for you.
Iron Ore vs. Wrought Iron
Wrought iron by Benjamin Moore has an LRV of 6.16 so it’s VERY close to iron ore. Even side by side swatches it’s hard to see the difference.
On this exterior they used a light paint color and iron ore on the trim and garage doors for high contrast.
Here they painted the entire exterior iron ore for a dramatic look. It pairs perfectly with the dark gray shingles.
An accent wall painted iron ore is the perfect dose of color for this office.
I hope this helps if you are considering iron ore for your own home! It’s a beautiful, dramatic color that will look amazing in many spaces.