Poor Paint Coverage

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Quality Paint at Bargain Prices

Dear NH,
I am painting my walls red "barn" color over flat white. I'm on my third coat using a paint roller for satin paint and roller marks are still showing through! I paid $31 a gallon for the paint. What am I doing wrong? I'm ready to panel over them!

Poor coverage can be caused by a variety of issues. The first, of course, is that the paint you are using is not top quality. However, at $31/gallon, it's unlikely. Mid-to-low-quality paints will not hide as well as the best paints, thus requiring more coats. When you have a severe color change, using the best quality paint is essential. Most painters find and stick to what works for them. It's harder for the homeowner to know how good their paint choice is, especially since every company says their paints are "one coat" capable. Frankly, for many of them, this is simply not true.

Another possibility is the condition of the walls. Even if your old walls were a flat finish, sometimes the new paint just doesn't spread and stick evenly, leaving high and low spots (we're talking hundredths of an inch here) that can show as roller marks when making a severe color change. Sometimes even multiple coats will still show through white, as in your situation. The solution is to first prime the walls with a quality primer (latex or oil) that is tinted to closely match the finish color. Primers are designed to stick better to difficult surfaces so you know you will get the best coverage from your finish paint.

This doesn't mean you won't need two finish coats. It does mean, however, that needing three will be almost impossible. Even with a tinted primer, multiple finish coats are often necessary when using very dark or rich colors.

You may also be using a roller with too short a nap. For virtually all wall paint, a 3/8" nap roller will assure good coverage. 1/4" rollers give a smoother, less "orange peel" look but put less paint on the wall, which is not what you want with a severe color change. So-called "pearl" or "eggshell" finishes can be applied with 3/8" or 1/4" rollers. Higher glosses usually are applied with 1/4" rollers. Your "satin" paint may be eggshell or it could be considered flat, depending on the company!

It's probably not necessary to prime since you already have a few coats on the wall. Try a 3/8" roller if you haven't been using one. In any event don't give up. Even if it takes two more coats, the beauty of the finished room will make the extra work worthwhile.

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