Balboa Mist vs Pale Oak: What’s the Difference?

Balboa Mist vs Pale Oak

When selecting a light, warm neutral paint color, subtle differences between similar shades can be hard to discern. Two beautiful off-white beiges from Benjamin Moore are Balboa Mist OC-27 and Pale Oak OC-20. But what sets these two popular neutrals apart?

In this article, we’ll thoroughly analyze Balboa Mist and Pale Oak. We’ll compare undertones, light reflectance, real life photos, and best room usages. Read on to determine which neutral paint color is the right fit for your home’s interior design needs.

Key Differences Between Balboa Mist and Pale Oak

Before diving into the details, here is an overview of the main differences between Balboa Mist and Pale Oak:

  • Undertones – Balboa Mist has gray, Pale Oak has yellow-brown
  • Light Reflectance – Balboa Mist has an LRV of 65.53, Pale Oak has an LRV of 68.64
  • Use – Balboa Mist suits modern spaces, Pale Oak fits traditional homes
  • Rooms – Balboa Mist shines in bright rooms, Pale Oak excels in cozy spaces
  • Availability – Pale Oak comes in fewer finishes

Now let’s explore Balboa Mist and Pale Oak more thoroughly.

Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist OC-27

With its pale taupe-gray appearance, Balboa Mist OC-27 creates a gorgeous neutral backdrop in any home. This versatile color has broad appeal.

Here are some details about Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist:

  • LRV: 65.53
  • Undertones: Cool grays
  • Finish: Available in all paint sheens
  • Rooms: Whole home color, especially living rooms and bedrooms
  • Pairs Well With: Grays, blues, greens

Balboa Mist is a light gray-beige with subtle cool undertones. This chameleon-like paint color shifts appearances based on light exposure and surroundings.

In some lights, the soft gray comes forward presenting as a pale, ethereal gray. At other times, beige warmth is more prominent giving a taupe appearance. The overall effect is a color that straddles the line between cool and warm neutral.

With a 65.53 light reflectance value, Balboa Mist provides enough illumination to keep rooms feeling open and airy. The cooler gray influence prevents the color from feeling too warm or dingy.

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The versatility and adaptability of Balboa Mist is one of its greatest strengths. This tranquil color pairs effortlessly with both cool and warm accents. Especially popular combinations include:

  • Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
  • Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
  • Benjamin Moore October Mist
  • Benjamin Moore Mountain Road

Use Balboa Mist to create serene, livable spaces. This lovely neutral backdrop helps rooms feel soothing and refined. It works in any area but is especially suited to:

  • Living rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Offices
  • Hallways

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak OC-20

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak OC-20

Pale Oak OC-20 is a gorgeous, natural-looking light brown by Benjamin Moore. This beautiful beige has broad appeal across styles from modern to traditional.

Here are some key facts about Pale Oak:

  • LRV: 68.64
  • Undertones: Yellow-brown
  • Finish: Flat, eggshell, pearl
  • Rooms: Living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms
  • Pairs Well With: Grays, blues, greens, browns

True to its name, Pale Oak has distinct yellow-brown undertones reminiscent of natural oak wood. This gives the paint color a very inviting and warm appearance.

Despite the oak-inspired base color, Pale Oak reads as quite light and refined. With a 68.64 light reflectance value, this soft neutral helps rooms feel bright and cheerful.

The warm oak undertones pair wonderfully with organic textures and natural materials like wood furniture and stone accents. Pale Oak helps spaces feel grounded and cozy. Use it alongside other warm neutrals like:

  • Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
  • Benjamin Moore Palo Duro Canyon
  • Benjamin Moore Roasted Chestnut
  • Benjamin Moore Hale Navy

This versatile beige looks gorgeous across interior styles from rustic farmhouse to urban loft. While suitable for any room, it really excels in these spaces:

  • Living rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Kitchens
  • Offices

Comparing Balboa Mist vs Pale Oak

Now that we’ve looked at Balboa Mist and Pale Oak independently, let’s compare them directly:

Light Reflectance

Balboa Mist has an LRV of 65.53 compared to Pale Oak’s 68.64 LRV. This means Balboa Mist reflects a bit more light and appears slightly brighter. However, both offer reasonable illumination for most spaces without feeling dark or dingy.


Here is where the main difference lies. Balboa Mist has subtle cool gray undertones. Pale Oak has very warm yellow-brown oak undertones.

The cool grays in Balboa Mist give it more versatility to work with either cool or warm color schemes. Pale Oak’s oak-like warmth excels in cozy traditional spaces.


Due to its slightly higher light reflectance and adaptability, Balboa Mist works well as a whole home neutral. Use it in living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and halls.

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Pale Oak’s warmth makes it best suited to cozy living spaces like bedrooms, dining rooms, and lounges.


Balboa Mist comes in every paint sheen from flat to high-gloss. Pale Oak only comes in flat, eggshell, and pearl finishes. So Balboa Mist offers more sheen options.

Balboa Mist vs Pale Oak Comparison Chart

Here is an overview of some key differences between Balboa Mist and Pale Oak:

Paint Color Balboa Mist OC-27 Pale Oak OC-20
LRV 65.53 68.64
Undertones Cool grays Warm yellow-brown
Use Whole home neutral Living rooms, bedrooms
Paint Finishes All finishes Flat, eggshell, pearl
Style Contemporary, modern Traditional, farmhouse

Real Life Photos – Balboa Mist vs Pale Oak

To better understand how Balboa Mist and Pale Oak compare, let’s look at real life photos of the paint colors:

Balboa Mist OC-27

Balboa Mist

Pale Oak OC-20

Pale Oak

As seen in the photos, Balboa Mist generally reads as a cooler and lighter neutral than the warmer, more oak-toned Pale Oak. However, lighting can affect these paint colors and make them appear quite similar at times.

Should I Choose Balboa Mist or Pale Oak?

So how do you decide between Balboa Mist vs Pale Oak for your home? Here are a few tips:

Choose Balboa Mist OC-27 if you want:

  • A light taupe-gray neutral
  • Subtle cool gray undertones
  • A versatile whole home color
  • A paint color suitable for modern spaces

Choose Pale Oak OC-20 if you want:

  • A light brown beige neutral
  • Distinct warm oak undertones
  • An inviting paint color for living spaces
  • A versatile neutral for traditional homes

To make the best decision, get samples of both paint colors. Paint them on large sections of wall and view at different times/lighting. This will give you the best sense of which you prefer.

You can also pair each potential paint color with the rest of your color scheme to determine which coordinates best. Both are beautiful, versatile neutrals that will suit most design aesthetics.

Ideal Room Pairings

Here are some rooms that are well suited to Balboa Mist and Pale Oak paint colors:

Balboa Mist OC-27

  • Living rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Kids’ rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Hallways/foyers

Pale Oak OC-20

  • Living rooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Offices
  • Entryways
  • Bathrooms

With their versatile neutrals and mid-range light reflectance, Balboa Mist and Pale Oak can work well in any room. However, the above applications tend to be optimal uses of their respective traits.

Decorating Ideas and Color Pairings

On their own, Balboa Mist and Pale Oak create peaceful and welcoming backdrops. Pair them with other colors and materials to design truly stunning spaces.

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Balboa Mist OC-27 Color Pairings

  • Benjamin Moore Indian River (blue-gray)
  • Benjamin Moore October Mist (green)
  • Benjamin Moore Beach Glass (blue)
  • Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray (neutral gray)
  • Natural oak wood finishes

Pale Oak OC-20 Color Pairings

  • Benjamin Moore Feather Gray (warm gray)
  • Benjamin Moore Essex Green (olive green)
  • Benjamin Moore Mahogany (reddish brown)
  • Benjamin Moore Hale Navy (dark blue)
  • Aged brass accents

Balboa Mist vs Pale Oak: Which is Better for Your Home?

So which is the better Benjamin Moore paint color between Balboa Mist and Pale Oak? The answer depends on your goals and home’s needs:

Consider Balboa Mist OC-27 if you want:

  • A light neutral with subtle cool tones
  • A paint color suitable for modern styles
  • Good versatility to work with any color scheme
  • Availability in all paint finishes

Consider Pale Oak OC-20 if you want:

  • A light beige brown reminiscent of oak
  • A paint with warm yellow-brown undertones
  • A cozy neutral suited to traditional decor
  • A natural earthy feel

While Balboa Mist may be slightly more versatile for whole home use, Pale Oak provides gorgeous warm character in living spaces.

Get color samples and view in your environment before deciding. Either Benjamin Moore neutral you choose will provide an elegant backdrop that lasts for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still undecided between Balboa Mist and Pale Oak? Here are answers to some common questions:

What are the main differences between Balboa Mist and Pale Oak?

The main differences are their undertones and suitability for cool vs warm color schemes. Balboa Mist has subtle cool gray tones. Pale Oak has distinct warm yellow-brown oak tones.

Which rooms should I use Pale Oak in?

Pale Oak looks beautiful in cozy living spaces like living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and offices. Its oak undertones create a welcoming atmosphere.

What colors go well with Balboa Mist?

Popular colors to pair with Balboa Mist include grays like Revere Pewter, blues like October Mist, and beiges like Edgecomb Gray.

Is Pale Oak warm or cool?

Pale Oak is a warm paint color with yellow-brown undertones similar to natural oak wood. These warm tones give it a cozy, welcoming feel.

Can you use Balboa Mist on ceilings?

Yes, Balboa Mist is a good ceiling color. Its 65.53 LRV provides enough light reflection without feeling too dark or warm.

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