Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

March, 2005

Converting Federal Standard 595B Color to PMS Number

Q. The architect of a project I am doing has specified Federal Std. 595B for the blue ADA Handicapped access signage on a school site. Is there a direct cross reference to a PMS Number for this color of blue?

A. FED-STD-595B being a collection of colors, specifying it without more details for a handicap signage may seem "bold" but it is not. Of all the possible colors, only one is specified for such a use, #15180, a glossy blue used in many countries for the same application. The matte version of the same color, #35180, is usually specified for pavements.

This color is generally called "handicap blue" by paint suppliers.

Some of the sign characteristics are defined in the following page of "The Access Board" web site:

The complete index for the guidelines can be found at:

"The Access Board" is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.

It is interesting to note that the color is not an ADA requirement but usually comes from local, state, or other federal requirements. Please note that other local or state requirements may be required in addition to the color; requirements such as abrasion resistance, weatherability, etc.

As for a direct cross-reference from FED-STD-595B #15080 to a PMS number, there is no available table to that effect but I determined it by measuring the actual FED-STD color patch and matching it to a PMS color. The closest PMS color is #7462 C (coated). This is NOT an exact match as there is a CIELAB color difference of 4.8 between the two. The difference is about half in color saturation, the PMS patch is less saturated, and half in brightness, the PMS patch is darker.

For a better match, you could purchase a single large (3 x 5 inches) chip of the FED-STD-595B #15080 from the GSA (address given below) for about five dollars.

Be careful if you plan to use the PMS color as a specification since the paint recipe error will add to the already present matching error. Typical pre-formulated "handicap blue" paints are specified with a tolerance of 6 CIELAB units, you need better matching if you start with the suggested PMS color.

Because it is an outdoor application, I suggest you compare your reference and actual painted signs under natural daylight illumination (indirect sunlight, overcast).

Best regards,

Danny Pascale

What's New | About PCRC | Compliance Assistance | Regulations | Technical Info | News | Homeowners | Search | Disclaimer | Home

©2012 Paints and Coatings Resource Center