my Old Workshop

Painting tip – how to get better colors with fewer coats

When you’re painting a new wall or even painting over stained, marked or glossy surfaces, a good primer-sealer should be your first step. But before you go ahead and put on good old conventional white primer, take a step that will save you a lot of work. Consider a tinted primer.

If your colors are off-white or light pastels, white primer is probably fine. But with darker, richer colors, a white primer can affect the finish color. It’s not just that you have to make sure you’ve covered every square inch of the surface, so that there aren’t little patches of white or lighter shades here and there. You should do that anyway. The problem is, the underlying white can actually lighten the topcoat. Light reflects off both the topcoat and the underlying coats, so the light reflected from the white will lighten the overall impression of the color of the wall. You can cure this by applying more than two coats of topcoat – until the color looks right – but that’s a lot of work (and expense).

By tinting the primer, you can avoid this problem. Many manufacturers suggest tinting the primer to the topcoat, that is, basically matching the topcoat color in the primer. A coat of primer and a couple coats of topcoat should then do the trick.

When it comes to certain colors, the jury’s still out. Some swear by a matched primer for deep, rich reds, but others suggest going with white primer for reds and deep yellows.

Another manufacturer recommends various gray tints for primer for deeper colors. It avoids the blushing of the white, while also avoiding making the topcoat color “too dark”.