What are Light Reflective Values (LRVs)?
LRV, in the simplest terms, measures the amount of visible light that a surface reflects. Not the actual colour of the surface but the quantity of visible light (including all wavelengths and directions) that is reflected by a surface itself. It is expressed as a numerical value, which scales between 0 and 100. Dark, matt, and textured surfaces exhibit a significant light absorption capacity, resulting in low reflectance values. Conversely, light, glossy, and smooth surfaces are good at reflecting light, leading to high reflectance values. For instance, a colour with an LRV of 70, signifies that it reflects 70% of the incoming light. Comparatively, a colour with an LRV of 20 will reflect significantly less light in comparison.

Why are they Important?
The LRV of surfaces within a building is essential to maintain appropriate contrast. When selecting finishes, architects, specifiers, and commercial interior designers must consider the LRV of materials and their potential impact on the overall design. By ensuring the right level of contrast through LRV values, designers contribute to the creation of spaces that are both accessible and safe whilst being able to maintain the desired level of interior aesthetics.

Why Do We Need Contrast in Building Design?
Contrasting LRV surfaces play a significant role in building design, in fact the ‘Access Statement’ of the Equality Act 2010, requires public buildings to ensure safe entry, exit and passage throughout the building. Coupled with, guidance within the Approved Document M of the Building Regulations and BS 8300, building users, regardless of age, gender or disability must be able to gain equal access within public buildings. High contrast between surfaces, such as walls, floors and doors, helps people easily navigate a space and distinguish different elements. For those with visual impairments these contrasting surfaces according to light reflective values, play a vital part in assisting with their accessibility, wayfinding and overall experience within the building.

What LRV Standards are required in the UK?
According to requirements within BS8300 and Approved Doc M, the LRV of materials must meet specific values to ensure proper contrast and accessibility within the built environment. The definition of Visual Contrast in Building Regulations Approved Document M states that ‘the LRV between two surfaces should be greater than 30 points. Where illumination on a surface is greater than 200 lux, a difference in LRV should be a minimum of 20 points.’ There should be a visible contrast between the wall and ceiling, and between the wall and floor. It is recommended that there is at least a 30 point difference in the LRVs of the two surfaces in order to achieve a suitable contrast. This is because visually impaired people may be unable to perceive some or all colours, but many people with a visual impairment can perceive light and dark, and therefore LRVs are a suitable method to measure contrast. Critical surfaces, such as floors, walls, ceilings, stairs, and doors, form the impression of shape, space, and proximity when scanned by a visually impaired person. Navigating through a building is much easier if these areas are contrasted.

In addition, handrails, are important at supporting building users and should also contrast visually with the wall to aid way-finding and safety.

LRVs Are Not Just Numbers
Light Reflective Values are not just numbers; they are an integral part of creating inclusive, accessible, and safe spaces within our built environment. Architects, specifiers, and commercial interior designers must consider LRV when selecting materials and finishes to ensure compliance with Building Regulations Doc M in the UK. By doing so, they contribute to the creation of spaces that are not only visually appealing but also functional and welcoming to all. As leaders in door and wall protection, Intastop is dedicated to providing solutions that help achieve these goals and support the mission of accessible and inclusive design.

With our colourful range of wall and door protection sheet, along with our handrails and grabrails collections, LRV values are displayed on each colour along with the texture of the product, giving greater understanding and ease of specification.

Get in touch with our experienced team who can advise on colourways and contrasting colours schemes depending on requirements. https://www.intastop.com/contact-us/