Is there a way to avoid this problem?
Yes, there is. Before you commit to buying gallons of any particular paint, you should get a sample and test it on your walls. That will let you know if the color and sheen are what you expected them to be.
But how you do this matters; there is a wrong and proper way to test paint colors. The wrong method will create the same problems you are trying to solve. Here is the right way to test paint colors before you commit to using them on your walls.
How to test paint colors
1. Paint on your wall (not on boards)
To see how a color will look, paint a section of the wall with it. Do not use a whiteboard, pasted on the wall, for this test. Paint does not act the same way on a board as it does on walls. The level of saturation is different, and the color will look dissimilar on a board than it does on your walls.
If you have not settled on the colors to use, paint all the different colors side-by-side with some space between the samples. When you do this, do not limit the paint to narrow strips of 2 inches. Use 1-foot x 1-foot sections; if you can make it 2 feet x 2 feet, the results will be even better. This method is messier than using boards but definitely better.
2. Apply two coats
To get proper level saturation, apply two coats. Using two coats will give you a more accurate picture of what the paint will look like on your walls. That is because it brings you closer to the actual appearance of the final product. Note that the existing color of your walls can alter the sample’s appearance. If the surrounding paint is dark, the colors will look brighter. If the wall is lighter, the colors will look darker.
3. For saturated or bright colors, use a primer
If your new paint has a rich color, you may need to apply primer before painting the sample. Doing this will help the paint read better; the results will be more consistent with what you will get when you finally paint the wall.
4. Paint more than one wall
The shade of color will look different depending on how much light a wall receives. To get a complete sense of how a color will look in the end, paint at least two walls in your home. Ideally, one wall should be well-lit and the other in the shadows.
5. Think of lighting when testing
The type of lighting and the time of day will affect the appearance of the paint. When you paint your samples, consider the paint’s appearance when there is natural light versus artificial light. Also, look at how the color looks under fluorescent light and yellow-hued lights.
6. Choose other room details first
Finally, before you choose your paint colors, consider other details of the room. The color of the flooring, carpet, and lighting will influence people’s perception of the color. You should choose these details first since it is easier to match the color of the wall to the flooring or carpet than it is to do the reverse.