Insights / 11.11.19

How your surface finishes will impact your lighting

One of the first questions a lighting designer will ask is; What surface finishes are you using?

Light Reflectance occurs from different surfaces at different rates. This factor will influence the style and quantity of light fittings used in any lighting design.

What is Light Reflectance Value (LRV)

Light Reflectance Value (LRV) is a scale which identifies how much usable light is reflected when a surface is illuminated.

LRV is measured from 0% to 100%. 0% reflects no visible light. 100% reflects all light.

Light Reflectance Value table

Why does LRV matter?

What may seem like a simple aesthetic design decision can have a huge impact on lighting a space if a surface finish changes from a high LRV to a low LRV, or Visa Versa.

For example, a beautifully detailed coffer ceiling painted in white has the ability to provide effective general light to a space due to the white paints’ high LRV.

However, change the ceiling colour to black, a colour which has a very LRV, and the majority of the light produced by the coffer will now be absorbed. As a result, there will be very little usable light in the space below.

Similarly, a soft glow designed to radiate out from below joinery across a matt tiled floor will suddenly become a harsh line of light if the tile is changed to a gloss finish and the lighting selection is not adjusted appropriately.

How to ensure you get the best result

Above all, keep your collaboration with an experienced lighting professional going throughout your project.

Understanding interior surfaces and their light reflectance properties are fundamental to any successful lighting design. An experienced lighting professional will guide you through selecting appropriate luminaires to achieve the ambience you are looking for.

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