A Brief History of RAL Colours
In 1925 Germany was undergoing rapid economic growth. The industry and government of the Weimar Republic made decisions to establish objective and reliable certification marks. To do this they:
- Standardised and defined quality assurance, with rigorous testing and labelling conditions.
- Stated unambiguous quality requirements.
- Formed an independent entity that would monitor adherence to defined quality assurance conditions within a particular industry.
1927 - The first set of RAL binding standards emerged with a colour chart, classified using RAL labelling. The first 40 colours were widely used in industry and public life. To-date the organisation has developed 2328 RAL Colours; 213 RAL Classic colours, 490 RAL Effect colours and 1625 RAL Design colours.
What is a RAL Colour Swatch?
RAL Colour swatches, otherwise known as RAL colour charts, are booklets and fan decks that offer a visual representation of colours approved by industry standards. These swatches feature rectangles that demonstrate exact RAL colours, offering; colour identification, inspiration for designing, colour and product matching. RAL also provides polypropylene reference panels, used for colour matching plastics and other industrial materials.
What are RAL Colours Used For?
RAL colours are visible across the globe; used in architecture, construction, industry and road safety. It is by far the most popular standardised colour system used throughout Central Europe.
Latest Advancements in RAL Technology
In 2011 RAL introduced RAL ICOLOURS, the RAL Colour app (available for Apple and Android devices). RAL ICOLOURS includes colour pallet’s for; RAL Classic, RAL Effects and also RAL Design. Whilst the app can be used for finding colour codes and finding inspiration, it does not accurately represent RAL Colour from a smart device. This is due to variations in brightness and contrast across different smart device models.
In 2015 the RAL COLOURCATCH Nano was launched. The RAL COLOURCATCH Nano is a portable colourimeter, capable of measuring up to five colours at once, regardless of the surface or material. Integrated with the RAL ICOLOURS app, it will detect colour values that closest represent RAL colours, as well as matching the closest RGB and CM values.
Converting to RAL Colours
Similar colours defined by separate institutions will unlikely be exact matches to RAL Colours. However, there are tools available for you to convert colours to RAL colours. As previously mentioned, the RAL COLOURCATCH will do exactly that. E-Paint is an online service which allows you to compare colour shades and offers alternative colours from various organisations including RAL and British Standards. You can use the free colour matching service by visiting e-paint
Most Commonly Used Colours
The RAL K7 colour swatch contains all 213 RAL Classic colours and is the most commonly used colour swatch around the world. It features colours popular with architects and many other trades for building and decorative paint.
British Standard Colours
Just like RAL colours, the British Standards Institution defined a range of colours, Incorporated under a Royal Charter (National Standards Body). British Standard Colours are used to identify colour coding through booklets and fan decks.