As a preservation contractor, I have done my share of painting. It’s actually one of the aspects of the restoration process I enjoy the most and am extremely passionate about.
One of the questions I get a lot is about selecting the right paint. With so many options out there it can be daunting. There are a lot of good brands and good lines within each brand, but one of the ways I judge the quality of a paint is by the coverage I get.
So today I want to pose the question, “Is it possible to get good coverage with only one coat of paint?” Spoiler alert, yes it is absolutely possible and I’m going to show you how to do it.
Pratt and Lambert® Paints sponsored this post and I was excited to get to experiment with a new paint brand that I have never used before. So won’t you come with me as we see if we really can get that elusive one-coat coverage?
Do You Need Primer?
A traditional paint coating requires a thin, initial layer of paint called a primer. This primer penetrates into porous surfaces and creates a strong bond. Think of primer as the foundation which you build your house of paint upon.
Primer helps seal surfaces so that any imperfect conditions like dirt, oils, porosity, tannins, stains, etc. don’t cause issues with the finished paint surface. You don’t always need primers, but let me first give you a few examples of times when I would strongly recommend primers.
When painting things like bare wood (especially old growth wood), you need a quality primer to protect against bleed through. The tannins in woods like Western Red Cedar, and other woods, can bleed right through a latex paint applied without primer leaving a really ugly finish. It may not show up immediately, or can take months or even years, but eventually you’ll see every knot hole or grain line in the wood.
Bare Plaster & Drywall
If you’ve got a bare plaster or drywall area that you need to paint, then priming is also important here. Drywall is like a sponge and can create uneven drying and an uneven appearance to the paint if you don’t prime first. Fresh plaster is another surface that has issues without first priming. Wet plaster has a tendency to pull pigments from anything it touches while curing so you’ll see tannins from wood lath behind it, rust from metal lath or even stains from dirty towels used to apply it.
Dealing With Patches
Primer also works well to avoid an uneven sheen to your finish paint when there are patches on the wall. Often you’ll notice this “flashing” when you paint over a wall where you got a plaster patch. The sheen ends up being duller in those areas than the rest of the wall. A good primer prevents this.
Kitchens are another place where primers are especially helpful since the grease and residue from years of cooking can cause adhesion issues with paint. Scrubbing walls and cabinets with TSP prior to painting is always a good idea to make sure they are thoroughly cleaned, but adding the step of priming beforehand is a way to guarantee success.
Exterior paints take the brunt of punishment, especially with wild temperature swings, rain, sleet, snow, blowing debris and UV degradation. These are awful for exterior paints and because of that, applying a primer before you paint anything outdoors is a good safety measure.
After reading all this you may be wondering if there is any way to paint and not need primer, especially if you are trying to attain that sought after one-coat coverage we all want. The answer is, yes, there are times when skipping primer is totally fine when using the right paint. Let’s see what those are.
What is Paint+Primer in One?
Do these really work or is the idea of Paint+Primer in One just a myth perpetrated by tricky marketing execs? The answer is not so simple. Paint+Primer in One is not a catch all that will work in every situation, and it’s not technically paint mixed with primer but it can be extremely helpful. Let me explain how this all works.
Paint+Primer in One is usually a high build paint with better coverage than a traditional paint. It’s not an elastomeric paint which is a different ball of wax altogether. Here is what makes Paint+Primer in One different:
- Higher Solids Content
- Better Coverage
You end up paying a little bit more per gallon for Paint+Primer in One but you get a higher quality paint that yields more coverage in fewer coats. So does it really cost more in the end? You decide.
The biggest part of any paint you are paying for is the solids content. The solids are what’s left over after the paint dries. Higher solids content means more coverage and longer lasting paint. Lower solids content equals bargain basement paint, most of which evaporates away.
On previously painted interior surfaces like walls and ceilings, which is honestly what we spend the most time painting, Paint+Primer in One is the perfect choice. It avoids the extra step of priming and covers better than traditional paint so you have fewer coats to do.
Testing Accolade Paint+Primer
I decided to test out Pratt & Lambert’s new Accolade® Interior Premium Paint & Primer in my daughter’s room in our new house. This paint is one of the best in the “ultra premium” category with a reputation to apply flawlessly and maintain durability so that’s one of the big reasons I was excited to test it out. I had a mid-range yellow room with white trim that I needed to change to her favorite color, which of course was pink.
Accolade offers more than 100 colors guaranteed to cover in one-coat. I chose the color “Serene Pink PL051” from Pratt & Lambert’s color swatches and, with my little girl’s approval, I was ready to roll! I went with a Flat sheen level since these were plaster walls that had been patched over the years. The flatter sheen means that imperfections in the wall will be easier to hide. Accolade is also known for its scrubbability, stain resistance and washability, so for a child’s room, this was the perfect choice.
Even though I was not going to prime I still needed to prep the walls properly. That meant wiping them down with TSP and a cotton rag to get rid of any dirt, dust, or oils and making a few nail hole patches. I did spot prime these patches first to avoid the flashing I mentioned earlier.
Then it was off to grab a gallon of Accolade at my local paint store, my favorite brush and a roller. I prefer to cut in first using an angled sash brush and then roll one wall at a time. I find that helps keep the drying times in alignment and avoid the dreaded flashing between the cut in sections and rolled sections.
Accolade has a one hour dry to touch time and a four hour recoat time, but I was hoping that I would be able to avoid the second coat with this test. After two hours I checked the paint to see what my coverage looked like and I have to say that I was impressed. Good coverage, no bleed through and no more signs of yellow.
To double check, I held up the color swatch to the wall to see if the yellow was bleeding through in any noticeable way and it didn’t show any signs. It was the actual color on the swatch.
So with a good quality paint, the answer is, yes, you can get one-coat paint coverage. Just like most things when it comes to painting, you get what you pay for with paint, and using a premium paint like Pratt & Lambert’s Accolade worked for me. If you come across a situation like this where you have two fairly similar colored paints you can also get one-coat coverage.
Where you’ll need extra coats is on extreme color changes. While I haven’t taken this to extremes using Accolade yet, I know that bold colors like reds, greens and blues are tougher to cover in one coat. With these colors you may be talking about multiple coats.
In this case, I was really pleased with the ease the paint went on, the water clean up, and the excellent coverage, not to mention the low odor. I can comfortably add Accolade to my stable of paints I like using. If you want some more information about Pratt & Lambert’s Accolade Interior Paint & Primer, or any of their other paints, go check them out here.
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I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.
2 thoughts on “Can You Get 1-Coat Paint Coverage?”
Hi Scott, When I lived on the East Coast Pratt and Lambert was my go to paint for our 200 year old home. In 2012 we moved to the West and P&L was hard to find. Then I heard that it was purchased by Sherwin Williams and they were for basically shutting down the P&L line. If this isn’t true, I’d love to know, and will spend lots of time trying to find it here. I did purchase a couple of gallons in 2013 but had to return them as they were filled with bits of stuff that neither I nor the retailer could identify. Thanks for any info you may have.
Corporate owned Sherwin Williams purchased the Pratt & Lambert brand in 1995 and has since closed down most if not all of their facilities. SW also has a paint/primer formulation line called “Super Paint”. From what I understand locally owned Benjamin Moore make paints of equivalent quality and they have a paint/primer line called “Regal Select”. If all this is true, isn’t likely that your comments on P&L apply equally to the other two brands and certainly to Sherwin Williams at least?