RAL is one of the leading colour-matching systems used universally. It is used to define colours for paints and plastics.

A variety of industries use RAL to standardise the name of colours to apply to their products or to the paint they use.

Each colour has its own four-digit code with each digit referring to a different aspect of design. The first digit refers to the colour’s hue, the second is lightness, the third is saturation and the fourth is transparency. Pure black has a RAL code of 9005 and pure white has a code of 9010.

A history of RAL  

The official RAL colour-matching system was originally developed in Germany in 1927. The name “RAL” was coined by the German National Committee for Delivery Terms and Quality Assurance. This organisation is called Reichs-Ausschuss für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung in German.

The RAL index of colours has been expanded multiple times since it was coined. It started as a 40-colour index for manufacturers and consumers to communicate about desired outputs. In 1961 it expanded to 216 before a new colour family called RAL design expanded to 1,625 colours. The most recent update saw it add a new RAL family called RAL effect which has 490 individual colours too.

How to use RAL  

Firstly, you should start off with finding the RAL colour code for your desired outcome. You can do this by online research or in a variety of printed paint catalogues.

Secondly, when buying aerosol spray paint matched to a RAL number, you should buy from a paint supplier with an established reputation. Aerosols Direct’s range of RAL aerosol spray paints fits the bill.

The penultimate step is to follow the supplied instructions. This will specify the surface type, the number of coats to apply and the drying time. Doing these steps perfectly will make sure that the final colour, and finish, match your needs.

Finally, allow the RAL paint colour to dry completely. This step might sound like an obvious one, but only once the paint is fully dry can you touch the surface you’ve coated. This is particularly important when you have different finishes like matte, gloss, and metallic.

Since being developed, RAL has become the standard for colour matching and colour communication. It is used by a wide range of industries, including automotive, aerospace, construction, and furniture. The RAL system is also used frequently by artists, designers, and architects to match colours in projects to the actual vision.


RAL is used so frequently thanks to its four key benefits.  

RAL is consistent  

The colours are reproduced across different manufacturers and batches, ensuring that your project will look the way you intended. RAL has been trusted and relied on by professionals since 1927.

RAL is accurate  

Colours are carefully calibrated to match the Pantone Matching System (PMS), the industry standard for colour reproduction. This means that you can be confident that your RAL colour will match on screen or from print.  

RAL offers variety  

RAL offers over 2,500 colours to choose from, with a variety of different effects from standard, metallic, matte and speciality. This gives you the flexibility to create the perfect look for your project. 

RAL and Aerosols Direct  

Here at Aerosols Direct, we work with a variety of colour-matching systems. RAL is one of our favourites to work with thanks to its consistency.

We supply aerosol spray paint in over 2,000 RAL colours from both RAL design and RAL classic. The paint we use is some of the best in the industry with some of the most durable and high-quality finishes.

Once created, the spray paint is matched to the RAL system, our specialist aerosol technicians then create your aerosol spray paint can. The product is both safe and environmentally friendly. The paint is low in volatile organic compounds to reduce the environmental impact and is non-toxic.