What is RAL?

RAL is a universal colour-matching system used in manufacturing – for industrial paint, coatings and plastics.

In a nutshell:

  • RAL is a universal colour-matching system to ensure consistency
  • RAL references are used a lot for powder-coating on architectural façades
  • Instead of using samples, architects and designers can specify a unique colour name and number
  • There are more than 2,500 colours in the RAL range, including metallics
  • There are no universal codes for anodising - it’s best to request a sample

And it’s the most commonly used colour referencing system on architectural façade projects for powder-coating finishes.

RAL colour references have been around for nearly 100 years, with RAL Classic the most famous and widely used system. There are 213 colours in that range, all with a unique four-digit number - from green beige (1000) to pearl dark grey (9023).

Today, RAL Design and RAL Effect offer many more colour variations, including metallics, and are used extensively by architects. There is now a range for plastics too.

  • RAL Classic, 213 colours, XXXX
  • RAL Design, 1,825 colours, XXX XX XX
  • RAL Effect, 495 colours, XXX-X

Why use RAL numbers?

In a word, consistency. Instead of exchanging colour samples and hoping for the best, architects and designers can specify a unique colour name and number, and know that the finished product will look exactly how they want.

In the façade sector, RAL colours are only used to reference powder-coating applications, There are no universal codes for anodising - colours are usually unique to each applicator, so it’s best to ask for a sample.

A word of warning about CAD and desktop design

Computer screens are not able to accurately display RAL colours. Rather than choosing or matching a colour online, it’s best to refer to a physical RAL swatch book.

Is there an eco-friendly range?

RAL Effect has 495 metallic and solid colours within an acrylic paint system. It’s the first RAL range based on waterborne paint, and is ISO compliant and eco-friendly as it avoids the use of heavy metals in paint.

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