Happy Friday, my friends! I have had a surprisingly productive week, considering it’s been about a BILLION degrees here in Portland. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Oregon, we rarely have extreme weather. That said, air conditioning isn’t exactly standard in the homes here. I can tell you it certainly did not come with my home (built in 1904, lol). Have you ever put a bag of frozen peas into a bowl and paired it with a fan to work as a swamp cooler? I have! 🙂 On the plus side, I also completed a huge project and learned how to paint over a dark color using only one coat of paint.
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My husband and I both LOVE bold colors. Last year, we painted our home office a rich, royal blue. It looked amazing on Pinterest pins, but not so much on our own walls. Whoops. Our house doesn’t get enough natural light in that particular room, and the room itself was tiny. Instead of a gorgeous blue room, we were left with a dark, hot mess. To make matters worse, I decided to stray from the cult of Benjamin Moore paint and opted for Sherwin Williams instead. After two coats of primer and two coats of paint, the blue was STILL blotchy. ICK. This girl doesn’t have the patience for a third coat. As you can see in the before image (taken with my potato iPhone camera, eeek), the color was just WAY too dark for the tiny room.
The room gets very little natural light. The window faces North, and the blue was so matte that any light that DID come through just got absorbed into the dreary paint color. The color looked even worse with the lights off in the room, as you can see below. Clearly, it was time for a change. Even I was surprised that I managed to fix this using a single coat, but it’s true!
How to Paint Over Dark Walls Using One Coat of Paint
1 gallon – Benjamin Moore Horizon Paint in Pearl Finish
(1) – Roller cover
(1) – Paint tray
Step 1: Use High-Quality Materials
Using high-quality materials is the key to success here, and is why I listed EXACTLY what I used. I don’t think that I would have been able to achieve the same result if I had used a different paint. For the record, I don’t always use Benjamin Moore, and I’ve had success with Glidden, Sherwin Williams, and even Valspar paint. However, Benjamin Moore paints are the ONLY ones that I’ve been able to get away with only using a single coat.
Additionally, you’ll want to use a primer. I used a single coat of KILZ primer. Don’t skip priming if you are making a huge color change. I don’t think I could have gotten the same results if I had skipped priming. But primer is relatively cheap! In fact, it’s about a third of the cost of the paint. I’d rather use a coat of primer and one coat of paint than skip priming and have to use multiple coats of paint.
Finally, invest in some GOOD brushes. I’ve painted with cheap brushes and had to keep picking bristles off the wall. I use Purdy brushes these days and I used three while I was painting. One thing about Benjamin Moore paint; it is thick! It gets tacky very quickly, and your brushes will get stiff and difficult to keep working with. Since the brushes are used to paint around trim and areas that require a high degree of precision it’s important they stay soft enough to work with. That is why I have multiple XL Cubs that I use while painting a room. Once a brush feels too stiff I take a break, clean it, and grab a fresh one.
Step 2: Prepare The Room
If you are a novice painter, you’ll want to go through the whole shebang here. Use your painter’s tape to tape along trim, windows, and the ceiling. I learned a sweet trick from a real painter (!!!) regarding painter’s tape; you can use a little brush and some clear coat along the edge to create a PERFECT seal. If you are a perfectionist I highly recommend giving that a shot, it will create perfect lines.
For those of you with more painting confidence, taping might not be necessary. Personally, I don’t tape along my trim or ceiling. I worked hard to perfect cutting in with my brush because I HATE taping. 🙂 However, there are some basic things you’ll want to do. You’ll want to remove your outlet covers and switch covers so you don’t paint over them. I also recommend moving any furniture out of the room or covering it with an old sheet. Even the most skilled painter can’t prevent little micro splatters once they start rolling the paint on the walls.
I also recommend using the pre-taped painter’s plastic along the floors, for the same reason you’ll want to cover the furniture. The plastic will catch all the paint splatters that are inevitable once you start rolling.
Step 3: Prime!
Apply a coat of primer to the walls. This can be a great time to practice cutting in with a brush so you can eventually be tape-free! You can get away with playing things a little fast and dirty with the priming. The main goal here is to bring the walls back to a reasonable state; the priming does not have to be perfect. The areas I did focus on were along the trim and ceiling. You’ll want to make sure you get those areas well primed because if you are painting your room a light color any dark lines along the white ceiling or trim are going to stand out.
You can see in the image below that my walls after priming were super blotchy. This is totally normal. If you are using Benjamin Moore paint you should be able to get a gorgeous result with only one coat of primer. However, if you’re skittish you can always do another coat to even it out. Also, forgive the gross old dog rug, which I used to catch paint since we were getting rid of it anyhow. 🙂
Step 4: Paint
Primer dries really quickly, and by the time you’re finished priming you’ll probably be able to start painting. Woohoo! You may already have your own painting technique, and that is great! Do what works for you. I like to use my brushes and cut in along the trim and ceiling on each wall, then roll. This allows me to keep a wet edge, and get a feeling of satisfaction when I finish each wall. If you primed and are using Benjamin Moore paint, this is probably your last step! Believe me, I scrutinized my results VERY closely. I was so surprised that I only had to use one coat of paint.
You can see my final results in the image below. The color I used was Horizon by Benjamin Moore in a pearl finish. It is a very light gray, with some blue tones in it. The pearl finish allows it to catch the little bit of light that I do get in the office, and it really looks beautiful. If you have a small room I highly recommend this color. I’m actually so happy with it that I want to use it in other areas in the house. 🙂 While it was fun to try the royal blue, it just didn’t work in such a tiny room. 🙁 I would love to hear about your own painting adventures or mishaps, especially those of you who have gone bold (even if you painted over it later, like me)! Happy painting!