Choosing Paint Color: Red Paint and Dark Colors

When choosing paint color, some can start to frustrate you. Has red paint started to do just that? Why is it that when I paint with a dark red or dark green, the coverage is so terrible. It looks like I can see right through the paint to the previous color. Four, five, or six coats of paint is not uncommon when trying to make a dark color look solid. WHY?

The simple truth is that dark colors have to be mixed in a deep or clear base. This is so that the color will not be tainted by other color pigment in the base. If the dark red paint was made up in a light or white base there would be too much white pigment in the base and the color would not get dark enough. Instead of being a crisp sharp dark color it would be muddy or milky looking. In the case of red it would always lean towards pink.

So generally speaking, when choosing paint color, the darker the color the less actual color pigment there is in the paint. Therefore it doesn't cover as well.

The same principle is true for some other colors that are not necessarily dark but need to be clear. Yellow is a good example of this. Often yellow colors will need more coats to make them solid.

Are there any tricks to dealing with this problem of painting dark red or yellow? Yes. Some paint companies have taken some worries out when choosing paint color. A couple of companies now have paint bases that are formulated in red paint and yellow. Porter Paint is one of these. They make excellent paint. Pratt and Lambert also has a red base. I have used both of these and definitely recommend them . If the shade of red or yellow that you choose can be made in either of these bases, then the coverage will be the same as with any other lighter color.

Problem solved right? Well...here's a couple more suggestions just in case:

What can you do if you cannot get the red paint or yellow color made in a red or yellow base? Or what if the color you want is another dark paint like green or blue?

We have found that if you begin your project by applying a tinted primer this will help. For reds, blues, and greens the best result can be acheived by applying a dark gray primer. This will effectively cover a light colored wall usually in one coat. After the primer has dried then apply the dark red, green, or blue. You'll find that fewer coats will be needed to make the color appear solid.

The same principle applies to yellow. This time choose a beige or tan color for the primer. This is especially helpful if you are painting yellow over a darker color. Never do this without priming. You might start to think that you will never finish. A painter friend of mine once said in jest that 'yellow won't cover yellow in one coat'. Just be patient. Prime with a beige or tan color which does cover very well and then just apply as many coats as is necessary to make the yellow look solid.

The primers will definitely help. And I hope these suggestions help take some frustration out of your paint project.

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