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How to Paint Over Dark Shades of Paint

How to Paint Over Dark Shades of Paint

The most important thing about your new home is that you love the space. If you have the layout, location, and views you want, paint colors can always change. Even trendy, darker colors like black, dark blue, or dark red can be replaced with classic interior paint colors.

But how to do that isn't always obvious if you've never tackled interior painting projects before. Here's what the residential interior painting team at Trico Painting suggests when faced with dark wall colors you want to paint over.

Invest in High-Quality Supplies

Professional-grade paint rollers, not to mention high-quality interior primers and paints, are essential to get the finish and look you want. Here are some things to keep in mind when making final selections:

  • Choose a roller with the right nap, or thickness, for your project.

  • Choose thicker naps for rougher surfaces. Smoother dark walls can be painted with a thinner nap, or you can use a foam roller.

  • Don't go cheap: those rollers won't give you the coverage you need when painting over dark paint.

  • Acrylic-based paints and primers can be used. Just make sure you check any paint you're purchasing to match it to the surface you're planning to paint.

Don't Skimp on Surface Preparation

Sand and strip surfaces you're painting of old paint and finishes. Without complete removal of old paint, the lines of darker paint will be seen through the new layers of lighter paint and primers.

Wall cleaning is important, too. The cleaner walls are, the smoother the wall repainting will be. Use wall cleaning techniques that remove paint without damaging drywall. And be sure to protect interior trim and baseboards with painter's tape to make lines smoother and trim painting easier. And don't forget to protect your floor and surrounding furniture with dropcloths and plastic coverings, since drips on unprotected surfaces will mean more time and money spent.

Primer: Make a Strategic Choice

We recommend selecting a white primer when going from dark to light paint colors. Gray primers are a smart choice when transitioning from lighter paint to darker paint colors. Some interior designers and painters recommend mixing a bit of the new paint color with the primer, but keep in mind there is a risk of altering the finished project further than you intend unless you have significant experience doing this.

When it's time to apply primer, two coats reduce the risk that the darker color will show through. Let the primer dry completely before you start painting. As you'd expect, multiple coats of primer will require longer drying time for best results.

Don't Be Shy with New Paint

Heavy paint coverage is good and appropriate when adding paint with a roller, especially when covering over dark paint colors. Paint in large “M” or “W” shapes, rather than just moving the roller up and down. This approach gives the paint a few seconds to dry rather than immediately covering it with more wet paint.

The more striking you want your dark-to-light transformation to be, the more layers of paint you’ll need to get the job done. In short, you just keep adding paint until the dark color is gone.

Plan for the Long Haul

When painting interior walls yourself, you'll need to factor in additional application and drying time. One wall takes about a half day for one painter to complete when affecting a dramatic, dark-to-light paint transformation. Don't rush it, and allow for ample drying time in between so you can see the true color of the new finish you're applying before you decide you need more paint.

Resist the Wallpaper Temptation

It may be tempting to slap wallpaper on top of a dark-painted wall to avoid this process altogether. But there's no guarantee you won't want to paint in the future. When that time comes, wallpaper removal will only add to the stress, and the mess, of your already involved interior painting project. Not to mention there is more likelihood of wall damage when it's time for wallpaper removal than there is if you're just getting rid of old paint.

Call in Reinforcements

At the end of the day, painting your house should get you excited for the future in your new space. If you don't want to deal with the uncertainties of DIY painting, a home painting contractor can put your mind at ease.

Trico Painting is here to help. Our interior house painters can cover over dark paint colors with classics that won't date a room and will look great with any decor or design style. And we have the people power you need to get the job done efficiently, so you can get back to enjoying your new favorite rooms sooner.


Don't wait to paint over walls you hate. Contact Trico Painting for your painting project estimate to get started today!