I had *exactly* the same problem last year, matching a small repaired
section of a 15 year old 25' x 25' cathedral ceiling. After 2 attempts
at "eye-balling" with traditional prepared sample cards, I "bit the
bullet" and cut out a 2" patch of the drywall paper, from an
inconspicuous spot. I took this to HD, and they made up one of their 8
oz. samples (for a whopping $2.94), that matched perfectly, and was
more than enough to cover the 2' x 6' area I needed to cover.
I glued the patch back in place using Elmer's glue and spackle, and
you have to look hard to find it.
PS I used a padded 2x4 to lean up against the patch, to hold it flat,
while the glue dried.
Your efforts are appreciated and not wasted.
With a spot of luck, I may be able to get close matches (1 at a time)
with craft/toy paints, then take a newly created match-sample to
the HD near here for an 8 oz thing. I didn't know HD offered that
service, thought I'd hafta get a full gallon (or similar) mix-
matched. For $2.94 it'd be a damned good deal!
In my experience you can also cut out a square of plaster (down to the
lathe) using something like a rotozip. Then you can use Durabond setting
joint compount or equivalent to set it back in place and fill gaps after
matching. Works pretty well for me...
But in general, matching "whites" seems to be much harder for both eyes
and machines than matching solids. The eye seems to be more sensitive to
differences in whites and whites can be taken in all directions
(e.g. softs vs colds).
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