It’s a gloomy Portland day. You’re stuck inside looking at your walls, which have been the same color for years. You think – I could paint over that. I could have a fresh start; I could transform my whole world with just one coat of paint! You daydream, plan, plot. Your interior paint job will be the envy of the neighborhood. But then the anxiety sets in, and you read the label on the paint can: two coats?!?! And your world comes crashing down around you.
While this may be overly dramatic, when it comes to tackling a wall or trim painting job on your own, switching from a one coat plan to a two coat plan has some serious consequences (and some serious consequences if you don’t!). Not only does the extra coat add extra materials, it adds extra drying time. Let’s be honest, it’s easier to only do one coat.
Easier is not always better—often it’s worse. As professionals, we get to do all the worrying for you. We worry about the perfect coverage and finish, we worry about making sure that your paint is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, and we worry about getting the most bang for your buck. If you haven’t hired us to worry for you, you should be thinking about these things too.
Our rule of thumb: if the can says use two, we do
“But Nancy,” I can hear you protest. “The shampoo bottle says wash, rinse and repeat and I never do that. Surely this manufacturer warning is just shampoo paranoia.” Let me explain why it isn’t.
Two coats assure better coverage
Unless you are painting with the same color as was already on your walls, you’ll need two to make sure that no nasty undertones pop through your new color.
The manufacturer’s warranty won’t cover your paint
unless you follow the specifications as listed on the can. For most paint, this means using two coats. The warranty makes sure you’re covered in case of a bad batch of paint or some sort of failure down the road. Having the warranty makes sure your job doesn’t get unexpectedly more expensive because of issues with your paint. There are some exceptions to the two “coats = manufacturer’s” warranty rule. For example, Benjamin Moore’s Aura honors their warranty with only one coat as far as product failure goes. They don’t, however, guarantee coverage with only one coat.
Two coats are always more durable than one
Paint durability is dependent on the thickness with which it is applied (or its level of film). But there’s a catch 22, in order for paint to spread evenly, it requires thin coats. If you try to get a thick coat in one go at it your paint might end up looking like a hot mess; dripping, running and sagging all over the place. The best way to get an even, thick coverage is to do two thin layers. It’ll be worth your time!
Two coats touch up better than one
Because of the coverage issues we’ve already talked about, touching up one coat can be dangerous. If your first coat did not achieve full coverage, a touch up will stand out loud and proud with full, mismatching coverage as compared to the rest of the wall.
So, whether you’re giving your walls a face lift or painstakingly painting your trim, two coats is generally the way to go. You’ll have a beautiful, lasting finish that will make you sigh with joy not pull your hair in frustration—at least until the next time you decide to change it up.