The most important thing about Iron Ore is its deep and dark gray base. In some situations and under particular angles, it may appear black.


Many of us are wary of black and very dark colors when decorating our house or apartment. The stereotypes about being extremely careful with them and avoiding them if possible are still quite strong. Still, we suggest you try to go against them – and start with Sherwin-Williams SW 7069, which has a rather romantic name – Iron Ore.

Iron Ore paint color features

The most important thing about Iron Ore is its deep and dark gray base. In some situations and under particular angles, it may appear black (we will talk about this property in more detail later). Still, it is a dark gray, but not black at all. It can be compared to graphite or carbon – but a little lighter and incredibly soft. Perhaps, tranquility and softness are the key properties of this color, thanks to which it does not seem threatening or depressing at all.

In the Sherwin-Williams palette, Iron Ore qualifies as a neutral and, at the same time, a very, very popular shade. At certain points, it was included in the manufacturer’s most popular collections, such as Top 50 Colors, Rejuvenation (2021), Pottery Barn Teen (2021), and 2022 Opus.

Iron Ore: is it warm or cold?

Despite the darkness and the key role of gray notes in shaping the color, Iron Ore is by no means a cold color. It is distinguished by a pronounced neutral nature, therefore, the perception of it as warm or cold is played exclusively by lighting and surrounding tones. In some cases, you can also notice a certain coolness in it, but in a normal, balanced environment, it retains its usual neutrality.

How does lighting affect Iron Ore?

Studying the effect of light on the perception of Iron Ore and experiments like this can be an incredibly exciting game. Its moves can be quite predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.

So, in good and bright light, SW 7069 will open up completely and look like a noble and soft shade of dark gray. As the intensity of the light decreases, it will become darker without losing its calmness and balance. Twilight may make it lean almost black, but it will never look truly black since it is able to maintain its gray nature in any circumstances.

It is especially interesting to witness all these metamorphoses on paint with a satin texture, which makes the play of light extraordinarily beautiful.

Iron Ore LRV

As you might have expected, Iron Ore’s LRV light reflectance is very low. It is equal to 6, which gives grounds for placing it in the category of dark colors. At the same time, this dark gray shade cannot be classified by any means in the group of black tones for which the LRV is 3 and below. Black tones are not just named as such: they are really close to black, but, according to the designers, it is impossible to achieve it, and all manufacturers offer exactly black tones with the lowest light reflectance equal to 2-2.5.

Back to Iron Ore! Therefore, this color has a low LRV. Still, it can reflect a minimum of light, which distinguishes it significantly from black tones.

Iron Ore undertones

It may seem that Iron Ore is a rather open and straightforward color, and its main feature is a tangible craving for black. However, such an impression can only arise in the first seconds of acquaintance with the SW 7069 shade. Studying it further, you cannot help but admire its complexity, which manifests itself in one way or another depending on the environment.

So, in some cases, you can notice a light gray-blue undertone in it. In warm lighting, a hidden yet still noticeable undertone of green appears on the surfaces of Iron Ore, and sometimes you can even see notes of brown or purple. Of course, none of them show up strongly, but all these undertones give the dark gray Iron Ore a stunning uniqueness in various interiors.

Similar colors

Some designers insist that Iron Ore has almost no similar colors and is truly unique. However, such shades can still be distinguished both at Sherwin-Williams and other manufacturers. The fact is that, in most cases, the differences between them will be insignificant, and many will be able to see them only with a close comparison of the samples. However, it is still worth knowing about them, so we will describe to you, although a few yet still similar to SW 7069 colors:

  • Peppercorn SW 7674 – the same soft, although lighter, black-gray color;
  • Tricorn Black SW 6258 – a lower-LRV color that appears deeper and richer, although this difference can only be detected by closely comparing the samples;
  • Inkwell SW 6992 – a darker gray with very deep purple undertones;
  • Black of Night SW 6993 – a slightly darker black-gray color;
  • Black Fox SW 7020 – a shade that has some resemblance to Iron Ore, but with more pronounced brown tones;
  • Wrought Iron 2124-10 by Benjamin Moore – a shade that is almost identical to Iron Ore, including light reflectance, but seems a little cooler due to blue undertones;
  • Nightfall 1596 Benjamin Moore – a deep dark gray shade with subtle silvery undertones;
  • Domino SG6G8 by Dulux Australia – an almost black graphite gray with subtle blue notes, starker than Iron Ore.

Coordinating colors

It is logical that the best partners for Iron Ore would be light and soft whites, close to warm. Also, designers advise combining it with earthy and light (almost white) shades, perhaps even gray-beige. Nevertheless, if possible, avoid cold colors with a lot of blue. Let’s see what SW colorists offer us:

  • Extra White SW 7006 – a calm white shade with light yet not cold gray undertones;
  • Cityscape SW 7067 – a much lighter yet the same soft gray that works well in tandem with Iron Ore in the design of vertical surfaces;
  • Nebulous White SW 7063 – a color from the group of almost whites, reminiscent of a muted morning haze;
  • Taupe Tone SW 7633 – a gray-brown shade, calm and charming in its naturalness;
  • Oh Pistachio SW 9033 – refreshing and light yellow-green, able to create an interesting contrast with dark Iron Ore.

Use of Iron Ore in interior

Yes, Sherwin-Williams 7069 is dark, but there is nothing threatening, oppressive, or unfriendly about it. That is why you should not be afraid to choose it for both interior and exterior decoration. The right selection of accompanying colors and textures will make it play in a special way, turning it into a relevant and elegant element of any interior.

More gold

As strange as it may sound, Iron Ore is better suited to metals of warm and golden hues than to silver and chrome. The latter can make it appear more cold and formal, and this is somewhat against its nature. However, when paired with metallic accents in gold, brass, copper, and bronze, it reveals itself as an utterly luxurious shade. The source of such accents can be lamps, furniture fittings, as well as wall panels, and table decor.

Go with accents

Let’s say you are not yet ready to completely paint a room in Iron Ore. There is nothing to worry about: if it really fascinates you, try using it as an accent or in small quantities. Consider one of the following options:

  • wall painting on ¾ or edging strip;
  • use for an accent wall with decor;
  • kitchen island painting;
  • painting the interior doors against a light-colored background;
  • painting the fireplace portal.

At the same time, one should be careful about the surrounding colors: they should perfectly harmonize with Iron Ore without creating sharp contrasts that can cause discomfort up to a headache.

Living room

It may sound a little surprising to you, but in fact, Iron Ore is used in interiors of different directions – classic and traditional, art deco and modern, minimalism and loft. Studying interior catalogs, you would surely be impressed by the variety of solutions for the living room. Accents of natural unpainted wood on a dark gray wall, beige tiles, white fireplace portals and gold accents, fluffy pillows, bright posters, glossy white brick, wicker rocking chairs – SW 7069 is extremely friendly to any of these elements and techniques.


The lighting in the bedroom is subdued, so fears about the gloominess of Iron Ore in such an environment are quite justified. And yet, you can easily cope with this by using light (and maybe not even white) furniture, brushed gold sconces, and warm cognac and wood tones in a bedroom with such walls. Gloomy, dark, cold? This is not at all about your bedroom!

Kitchen and dining room

As we wrote above, you may well be limited to painting the kitchen island in Iron Ore, however, the entire kitchen set in this style can be a good idea. Pair it with copper shades, browns, soothing whites, and gray-beiges. Try greenish stone countertops and textured tiles in a similar tone, don’t forget about natural wood accents – we’re sure you’ll end up with a stunning kitchen in modern, minimalist, or Art Deco styles.

As for finishing the dining room, here you can decorate an accent wall with Iron Ore or paint all vertical surfaces entirely. An interesting technique would be the combination of a light wood floor and dining table with upholstered chairs, the upholstery shade of which is close to the color of the walls.


Iron Ore may not seem like a great option for small bathrooms since it cannot make them look spacious. However, if this is not a priority, you can add uniqueness to this space with this amazing color, considering the right materials and accents to accompany it.

Designers call shiplap painting on the walls in the bathroom the most successful solution – a dark gray board will look elegant and stylish in combination with skirting boards and floor tiles of a soft and warm white shade and the same plumbing. Don’t forget about a beautiful mirror and golden metals for the faucet, shower, and furniture fittings. Complete everything with a couple of colorful accents, and you will not get tired of admiring your bathroom even many years later.

Another option for using SW 7069 in the bathroom is, of course, as an accent. Place a cabinet or hang a pair of shelves in this color in a bright space to add modern sophistication to it.

Use of Iron Ore for house exterior

If you think that such a bewitching and dark color as Iron Ore can only be used as an accent for the house exterior, you are deeply mistaken. Designers insist that a full-fledged painting of the exterior walls in this deep black-gray shade will be a bold and extravagant decision, which, nevertheless, you will hardly regret.

No one will argue with the fact that the use of “true black” for the exterior of the house is not a very good option, unless, of course, you are a big fan of gothic moods. In this case, a very dark gray is a more balanced option and, depending on the intensity of the light, it will look like a very pleasant and soft gray or a calm and friendly graphite. In addition, as the designers assure, such a dark tone perfectly emphasizes the various levels and textures of the house – especially in combination with calm whites and light neutral shades of other architectural elements.

If you want to use Iron Ore only for certain sections of the wall, take a look at how well it combines with brick and stone. Do you still lack the courage to take such a step? Try this shade on the door and window frames. You will definitely rejoice at your courage – especially if you live in a region with a real winter. A house of noble dark gray against the backdrop of freshly fallen snow – isn’t it a fairy tale?

The SW 7069 Iron Ore charcoal gray from Sherwin-Williams is a color you really shouldn’t be afraid of. Its soft and discreet character allows you to use different textures, materials, and accents, at the same time, allowing you to enjoy an elegant and unusual atmosphere in your own home.

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