Tinting primer to make painting easier

It took a few years but I discovered a non-obvious way to make painting easier.

I’ve painted more than a few rooms in my day, and the majority of them have been difficult to cover shades like red and yellow, or really bright colors. Sometimes when I’m really lucky, they’re the shade of the color that was popular in the 1970s. Those colors haven’t aged well.

Correcting other peoples’ violations of public nuisance laws requires a few steps. The first step is primer. But buy the right one, and don’t use white primer.

The two best brands of primer for covering loud colors are Kilz and Zinnser. Their water-based primers are fine; for these purposes you don’t have to use the oil-based stuff that stinks as badly as the old paint looks. But when you buy them, get them tinted as close to the color of your final coat as you can.

Sometimes the person mixing the paint can match it exactly. Others tell me it will be a bit lighter than the final coat. That’s OK. If the person in the paint department says you can’t tint primer, go somewhere else or come back later.

I think the extra pigment helps to cover the old color a bit better than just white, at least in some cases. And when you add your coat of paint, it’s much easier to cover a color that’s close to the final color than it is to cover white.

Before I knew this trick, sometimes it took me five or more coats to cover old colors. Occasionally I get lucky and can cover them with one coat of primer and just one coat of paint, though it’s usually best to put on two coats of paint regardless.

We just won’t talk about that pink bathroom ceiling I had to repaint once. No amount of Kilz could make that job easy.