How to Paint Over Dark Colors The Easy Way

Ever wondered how to paint over dark colors? Lightening up a room is easy – but it does take a little more elbow grease than repainting an already light-hued space. If you’re ready to get rid of that too dark (or too bright) hue, we’ll walk you through the process in three easy steps.

How To Paint Over Dark Colors

Taking an extra step in the painting process will ensure you completely cover your old paint color. What’s this extra step? Painting with white primer.

Step 1: Prep

First, though, let’s talk prep. A paint job is only as successful as the prep work that came before it, so take a little extra time to do it right.

After you’ve taped and draped your room, fill any holes or uneven areas with filler and then sand smooth. This will give you a clean surface to paint over.

Step 2: Prime

Once the walls are patched, you’re ready for primer. Why use a separate primer when you can buy paint and primer in one can? Because what’s in the paint-plus-primer isn’t really primer – it’s just thicker paint.

Primer is a totally different product than paint. It’s a blend of resin, solvent and other additives, which are made to seal the surface you’re painting and to help the paint bond to the wall. Paint, on the other hand, is simply a blend of resins and pigments, which makes it great at adding color, but not sealing or creating a bond. This sealing/bonding power is what allows primer to cover stains and old colors, where a regular paint might let these bleed through.

After you prep your wall, roll on the primer using M or W shapes to ensure full coverage. Once the primer dries, do a second coat. This ensures the smoothest surface, but it also creates the best sealing and bonding opportunity for what comes next — paint.

Step 3: Paint

Finally, you’re ready to paint. Depending on how bright or dark your original color was (let’s say you’re painting ballet pink over lime green), you may need two coats of paint on top of the primer. We recommend painting on one coat, letting it dry, and then evaluating the finish. If your wall is uneven or you can see the old color bleeding through, do another coat.

Even with two coats of primer, you may still need more than two coats of paint. To get a truly saturated color (and hide what came before), it could take three or even four coats. Be patient because it will work – it just make take a few more coats than you anticipated.

When Do You Use Primer?

In addition to using primer when you paint over a dark color, you should also use it when:

You have damaged, stained or greasy wallsYou’re painting a new surfaceYou’re painting over metal or plasticYou’re painting wallpaperYou’re painting latex over oil paint

Now that you’ve learned how to paint over dark colors, you may be realizing it’s more work than you have time for. If that’s the case, let our interior painting pros take care of it for you. They can help you choose a color then ensure you get the best paint job possible, without your ever lifting a finger.

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