The Best Paint Color for Classroom Walls

Brightly colored classroom walls
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While there is no one best color for classroom walls, some are better than others. Although it may be easy to overlook, the right shade can transform an environment that distracts and frazzles students into a calm space. Walls should be painted a color that promotes a pleasant space where students can focus.

1 Colors That Enhance Learning

The effects of color on learning are well documented, and it is important that when choosing a color for your classroom, you keep in mind the powerful effects these decisions can have on young learners.

Studies have shown that light blues and purples have a calming effect on learners and are a good choice in classrooms where the tension frequently runs high. If you work with students that have emotional and behavioral challenges, light blue classroom walls will form the foundation for the tranquil space that will help them learn.

Warm tones like taupe and peach provide a relaxing atmosphere that allows learners to focus on their studies rather than be distracted by their environment. These choices also provide a welcome measure of diversity to the frequently monochromatic paint schemes that grace the walls of our places of learning. These colors have also been shown to stimulate creativity and provide youngsters with a welcomed boost as they go about their daily work. It is also good to use a variety of colors within the classroom, as the repetition of color aids the memory. If there are certain areas in the classroom you wish to distinguish from others, for example, a quiet reading spot, then varying the wall color will help to remind students of area’s purpose.

2 What to Avoid

While many of us have become accustomed to a work environment where white predominates, it is a color that can be very painful for young eyes. Although white is a highly traditional choice, it can be stark and “institutional,” and that undermines the aims of a classroom. Instead of white, consider painting walls cream or taupe. White paint reflects most of the light that hits it, placing a great deal of strain on our eyes. In fact, white can be very harsh and can exhaust the eyes with its sheer intensity. While taupe or cream may not seem very different from white, the cumulative effect of days, and even years, on students can be tremendous.

Bold colors can provide a huge distraction, especially with younger learners. Red, for example, has been shown to increase heart rate and to grab attention immediately. Painting your classroom walls the color of a stop sign can definitely put the brakes on learning. Black and brown are associated with fear and anxiety in young children and can bring about an undercurrent of anxiety. Furthermore, a combination of black and white, with its stark contrast, has been shown to lower the IQ of students in a classroom.

Kevin Dinsmore is a freelance writer based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Dinsmore's experience has taken him to other continents, and throughout the United States. In addition to writing, he has worked in the airline industry, and is currently working at a state university. Dinsmore has a B.S. in modern languages from the University of Wisconsin.