Tinted primer paint makes painting easier

Last Updated on July 16, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

It took a few years but I discovered a non-obvious way to make painting easier. Use tinted primer paint to cover in fewer coats. If you’re asking if Kilz primer can be painted, the answer is yes. Absolutely.

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.

Tinted primer paint makes painting over obnoxious colors easier
This purple bedroom is hard to repaint. Getting the store to tint your primer will help you cover it without having to use five coats. If more people knew this trick, this room might not knock $1,000 off the value of a house.

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. Sometimes it can take multiple coats just to cover white, and by the time you discover that, it’s too late.

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. It really cuts down the time it takes to paint a room. I also recommend using a warm beige. It won’t win awards but it’s a timeless color that makes a house much easier to sell or rent out.

You can certainly use a brush, but I do like my paint sprayer. Spray on a coat of tinted primer, then spray on the topcoats and you can paint the whole house in a weekend.

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

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