Does a Second Coat of Paint Change the Color?

by Charlie
Does a Second Coat of Paint Change the Color

Have you ever put a second coat of paint on a wall (or another surface) and been startled by how different the surface looks once the second coat has dried? If so, you might be wondering why this happens and if it’s something you should be concerned about. It’s a bit surprising, especially when you’re using the same tin of paint as before.

Painting walls can be a stressful business, as it takes time and is often fairly expensive. You therefore want to understand as much as possible about how it works and what to expect. If you’ve found your paint darkens, you might be hesitating to put a second coat of paint on, but that’s not a good response!

Does a second coat of paint change the color? The second coat of paint might seem to change the color, but it should only do so by bringing the overall color as close to your swatch as possible. The second coat of paint is filling in tiny gaps left by the first coat, making your color bolder and deeper, and more completely the hue that you chose.

Why Does the Second Coat of Paint Change Things?

When you apply the first coat of paint, you might feel like you’re completely covering the surface you’re painting – but there are bound to be tiny gaps and pockets that do not get painted. These will show through, even if you can’t see them, affecting the overall appearance of the first layer. The second coat fills these gaps.

No matter how well you think you have covered the wall when you apply the first coat of paint, there will be some very small gaps. Even with a really good foam roller or excellent brushes, you won’t achieve perfect coverage on the first coat. That means that some of the surface beneath will be visible, and this will change how the paint looks.

The first coat rarely reflects your swatch perfectly for this reason. If you’re painting with a dark color over a light color, some of the light color will show through and lighten the overall effect – and vice versa. If the surface beneath the paint is a similar hue, its visibility will be less obvious, but it will still be changing the paint’s appearance.

The second coat of paint, however, will fill in all the tiny gaps and complete the appearance of the first coat. This means that you get a solid layer of the color you chose, and this should mean that the color becomes bold and rich. It won’t be distorted or diluted by other flecks of color showing through it.

The second coat is not affecting the hue of the first; it is simply completing it. This might change how it looks, but only because you’re now viewing one solid sheet of color, rather than a speckled one.

Should You Skip The Second Coat of Paint If You Like the First?

If you’re really happy with how your wall looks on the first coat, you might be tempted to leave it and not add a second layer. However, you shouldn’t give in to this temptation; that second coat is important, and almost all paint manufacturers recommend you add at least two coats of paint.

As mentioned above, your first coat of paint is essentially an incomplete layer. If you don’t add the second coat, you’re leaving your paint incomplete, and this won’t look great. It will mean that the finish is less smooth, even if you don’t particularly notice it, and it will make drips and streaks more obvious. You won’t get that velvety look.

These problems are even more likely to occur if you finish painting the wall in electric light, rather than daylight. In daylight, imperfections in the paint will be far easier to see, but electric light often disguises them. It’s best to finish a painting job in daylight if you can, even if you apply the first coat in artificial light.

The second coat of paint is important for finishing the job, and you shouldn’t skip it, even if you think the wall looks fine as it is. The second layer will give your paint additional durability, making sure it lasts longer, and will enrich its color.

Do You Need Two Layers Of Paint If You Primed The Wall First?

You should add two layers of paint even if you primed the wall. Primer is not a layer of paint; it is a layer that provides an optimal surface for your paint to adhere to. Primer improves the paint’s longevity and appearance, but it does not act as paint itself.

Since primer is often a light color, you might think it will do if you’re also painting the wall white or cream. It’s true that a light primer won’t show through white paint as much as it will dark paint, but you should still add a second layer of your paint, regardless.

Even if you can’t see the primer, two coats of paint will look better and last longer than a single coat. It doesn’t take long to add the second coat, so it’s really worth doing this whenever you are painting your wall.

Do You Need More Than Two Coats of Paint?

Some manufacturers will recommend additional coats of paint. Each layer will improve the coverage, but two coats are generally sufficient, unless you are radically changing the color of the wall. If you want to do more coats of paint, you will enjoy better coverage, and more lasting paint, but this isn’t critical.

In almost all cases, two coats of paint will beautifully finish a wall, and while three coats might be nice, the third is not generally necessary. If you can see the undercoat showing through, however, three or even more coats may be needed to achieve your swatch color.

Final Thoughts

The second coat of paint does not change the color, but it may enrich and deepen it. Often, this second coat is what helps you achieve the swatch color, while the first will be lighter or darker (depending on your undercoat). Don’t skip the second coat of paint!

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