DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum (
-   Painting (
-   -   Dark over light...Do I need tinted primer? (

melissaandkris 06-26-2008 11:02 PM

Dark over light...Do I need tinted primer?
I am painting my kitchen...finally, Im going in the morning to get the primer to get started! The color is sorta burnt orange kinda color that is pretty dark compared with the cream color that's on the walls now. So my question is do I have them tint the primer to close to the paint color or do do I use a gray tinted primer. Ive heard both and Im not sure which is the right way or even if either of these is correct. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Oh yea, what kinda of primer would you recommend as well?

Nestor_Kelebay 06-27-2008 01:05 AM

If it wuz me, I would tint a high hiding primer or white tint base paint your burnt orange colour rather than have it tinted gray.

Now, you don't need to know the rest, but it explains why people recommend painting with a tinted primer first, why TiO2 hides well and why you can improve the hide of a primer or paint by "toning" it a darker colour:

(I wrote and rearranged this post several times, so if it's a bit disjointed or I repeat myself, that's why. Also, before anyone barks at me, I'm fully aware that other factors besides the amount of TiO2 affect the hide in a paint, but I'm just wanting to explain why people use tinted primers as their first coat when changing colours.)

When you don't get complete hide after painting over a substrate of a different colour, what's actually happening is that incident light is travelling through the paint film, reflecting off the substrate, and coming out of the paint film to hit your eye. Some pigments in paint help prevent that by either: a) bending the incident light so that it travels a longer path through the paint film, or b) absorbing light so that there's less light hitting the substrate and reflecting off, and less making it out of the paint film as well.

Unless you know of a high hiding primer with lots of TiO2 in it, it may be safer to spend a little more and buy a top quality flat PAINT and have it tinted in the burnt orange direction. The reason why is that primers don't always have enough of the white pigment "Titanium Dioxide" TiO2, in them to provide good hide. It's the titanium dioxide that promotes good hide in primers and paints, and all things being equal, the more TiO2 in the can, the better the hide. But TiO2 is a relatively expensive pigment, so the more there is in a can, the more that can is gonna cost. If you can find a high hiding primer, then by all means, have it tinted your burnt orange colour. But, if you don't know if a primer hides well, play it safe and spend a little extra and have a can of a top quality high hiding flat white tint base (paint) tinted your burnt orange. The high hiding white tint bases (which are paints before tinting) from good names like Benjamin Moore, Pratt & Lambert and Sherwin Williams will always have lots of TiO2 in them for good hide.

Titanium dioxide is the second highest hiding pigment used in architectural paints, second only to black.

People erroneously presume that primers all have enough TiO2 in them to hide well, so they think they can hide the underlying colour with a coat of primer than a coat of paint, but that's simply not true. idea of priming first is that one coat of primer will hide better than one coat of paint, but that's not always true.ide well, so the reason why people suggest painting over a colour with a tinted primer is because they think the primers will have the white pigment titanium dioxide (TiO2) in them. TiO2 is the second highest hiding pigment used in architectural paints, second only to black. So, the idea is that by painting over a coloured substrate with a primer, the TiO2 in the primer will hide better than a coat of paint. Truth is, lots of primers don't have enough TiO2 in them to hide well. Zinsser's Bullseye 123, for example, has LOUSY hide, so tinting it a yellow or red colour is a waste of money, labor and time because it won't hide an underlying colour well to begin with.

So, if you are going to prime with a tinted primer, make sure your primer has lots of the white pigment TiO2 in it so that it will hide well.

If you don't know how well a primer hides, what you may want to do is paint over your dark colour with a coat of a top quality flat white tint base PAINT (tinted or not). If you get a quart or gallon of the highest hiding flat white tint base from Pratt & Lambert, Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams, you're going to pay more than you will for a primer, but part of the extra cost will be due to the much higher amount of TiO2 in the can. TiO2 is a relatively expensive pigment, so no one's going to give it away free. Higher priced lines of paint will have better binders that dry to a harder film, harder extender pigments that stand up to scrubbing better, more TiO2 for better hide, and better additives in them for less spattering, better wetting of the surface, better self levelling, more effective biocides, etc.

The only problem with "priming" with a high quality flat paint is that you don't benefit at all from the better binder and better everything else in the can because you'll be painting over that high quality paint with another paint. So, if you can find a high hiding white primer with a lot of TiO2 in it, use that instead because then you're ONLY paying more for the extra hide, and not for everything else being better too.

Now, titanium dioxide has very good hide because it has a high refractive index, meaning that it bends light MORE than other white pigments do. As a result, incident light traveling through a paint film that's only .006 inches thick gets bent at a larger angle so that it travels further LATERALLY along the plane of the paint film, with the result that more of it is absorbed by the paint film and less of it hits the substrate and reflects back to your eye. Also, because TiO2 bends light though a greater angle, it takes statistically fewer refractions to bend incident light through a 180 degree angle and send it back from where it came (out of the paint film). Thus, again, less of the light you see is reflected off the substrate, and that means you see less of the colour of that substrate, which means better hide. If the refractive index were lower, incident light would take a straighter path through the paint film, so it wouldn't travel as far in the paint, so less of it would be absorbed because of the shorter path and more of it would hit the substrate and reflect back out again. That would result in you seeing more light reflected off the substrate, which would mean the paint film doesn't hide the colour of the substrate as well.

But, because titanium dioxide only reflects and refracts light, and isn't very good at absorbing light, you can greatly increase the hiding power of a paint by "toning", and that is to add dark pigments that are great at absorbing light, like the black and raw umber pigments. A "high hiding" primer or white tint base paint will have both lots of TiO2 in it and some dark pigments in it to absorb light. So, the TiO2 bends the light so that it travels further through the paint film, and the dark pigments in that film absorb that light, so even less incident light is likely to reflect off the substrate and make it out of the paint film alive. You don't need to add much dark pigment to get a large increase in hide, but you do get more hide the more black you add because it does hide better than TiO2.

So, hiding is a property of the paint you're applying over a substrate, not a property of the colour of the substrate. That is, it'll take as many coats of your burnt orange paint to hide a cream colour as it will to hide a green or blue or grey substrate. But, because that cream colour is mostly a white colour, the light that does reflect off the substrate will be mostly white and will result in your seeing a slightly lighter version of your burnt orange colour. And, people find this more acceptable than a greenish or blueish or greyish version of the colour they're shooting for. So, a grey first coat will hide the colour of the substrate better than an untinted first coat, but it takes just as many additional coats of any paint to hide the substrate colour, regardless of what it is. Tinting your first coat with the top coat colour helps by putting more of the colour pigment you want between your eye and the substrate, so that tinted primer ALSO acts like another half coat of paint.

slickshift 06-27-2008 06:14 AM

In this case I would consider a primer tinted to the paint color
Or use Aura paint, that won't need the primer

sirwired 06-27-2008 08:28 AM

I'm going to disagree here... I would go with the grey-tinted primer. I think the reasoning behind this is that since black pigment has such great hide (and colored pigments do not, especially red), it can do the job of covering up the existing white/off-white coat. If the color-heavy topcoat doesn't hide (and it commonly doesn't, even with high-quality paint), a grey-tinted undercoat will not show up nearly as much as the original white (if it shows up at all.)

The trick here is to get it tinted a grey close to the "lightness" of the final topcoat. (Sherwin prints the grey tint needed on the back of their color chips. They also have a deep-base, high-hide, primer meant for this purpose.)

Yes, you could use a grey-tinted paint for this purpose, but I think a high-hide tinted primer is cheaper than paint, since the primer doesn't need all those expensive resins that help paint hold up to wear.


slickshift 06-27-2008 06:30 PM


Originally Posted by sirwired (Post 134043)

Yes, you could use a grey-tinted paint for this purpose...

In fact, I'm actually a big fan of the gray primers
As far as I can tell the top coat tinted primers is merely a carry-over from cheesy painters trying to get away with one top coat
For the most part I stopped using top coat tinted primers and went back to the grays

In this case, I'm unsure of the actual color of the "burnt orange"
As I though it could be brighter than I'm thinking, I suggested the top coat tint as a safe bet
So I didn't recommend gray for this particular app, as I wouldn't recommend it for a yellow or other bright color
I chose the safe bet and said top coat color

But yes, a gray tinted primer is an excellent choice for reds...and blues and other deep colors

melbostl 09-23-2008 09:59 PM

"Cheesy" painters trying to cut down on coats? I was taught that the fewer coats the better. Its the end result. More coats is NOT better in my world. Is the customer supposed to be impressed that you applied 3 coats to cover? Rather than a good prime coat (as needed) and a finish coat?

My experience (20 plus years in addition to my father who was a union painter) is if you are using a primer tint it to ONE SHADE LESS than the finish color on lighter colors and if dark color over light color tint to the same color.

Matthewt1970 09-23-2008 10:24 PM

Skip the primer. 1 gallon will do 2 coats on almost any kitchen that isn't 30x30 with paint left over. Cut in a wall and then roll it. Move on to the next wall and by the time u get back to the first wall it might be dry enough to put on a second coat. Latex paint will stick to latex paint like nobody's business. There is no need for primer unless you have grease on the walls.

chrisn 09-24-2008 05:18 AM

Move on to the next wall and by the time u get back to the first wall it might be dry enough to put on a second coat.

It takes 4 hours to paint a wall?:huh:

Matthewt1970 09-24-2008 09:53 AM

Paint takes 4 hours to dry ? When did this happen ? :eek:

chrisn 09-24-2008 06:27 PM

Almost any can of latex paint will specify to let dry 4 hours before applying second coat.Does it take that long certainly not, but for the novice it is probably a good idea.

Matthewt1970 09-25-2008 12:29 AM

Ugg, you made me actually go a read a can :) My Benjamin Moore flat Latex says "Dries to touch in 1 hour and may be be recoated in 1-3 hours" and my semi gloss add 1 hour to that.

home decorations 09-25-2008 03:40 AM

And i thought primers are only white :D

chrisn 09-25-2008 04:52 AM


RemodelMan 09-29-2008 12:20 AM

My two cents worth...
The actual drying time of paint products depend upon several factors that could be easily overlooked. The ambient temperature of the substrate ie. metal, wood, drywall, vinyl siding, cement etc all need to be taken into account.

No one will argue, that applying paint over a sun baked surface will dry considerably faster than a cool metal surface or a cement wall/floor in a damp basement.

Trouble begins when the inexperienced painter assumes a fresh painted surface which is just dry enough to the touch, means it is ok to repaint.

A humid day/home or cooler temps can postpone the general drying time. Repainting a second coat prematurely can result in stripping(for lack of a better word) the first damp coat, which usually happens with rollers and or postponing the entire surface to dry thoroughly enough to handle it. The solution to expedite the drying time is moving the air about with a fan or two and turning up the heat.

orgill 09-03-2011 03:50 PM

i agree with the gray primer method. first of all if your are painting with a very deep vibrant red...etc...there is no way you are going to tint the primer...not even a "deep base" primer even close to the actual top coat color. The only way to get remotely close is to dump out some of the primer from the can and to double the topcoat formula...At this point you have a primer that has really lost all of its properties, because of the huge amount of colorant now in the can. Studies have been done and the gray primer is in a lot of manufacturers minds the best way to go. I am only referring to very deeptone colors only, not the whole range of colors. You can do a good job of tinting the primer to a light to deeper midrange color with great success. Its just the real ultra deep colors that pose the problem. Also keep in mind that the more colorant you add to a gallon of paint the longer it is going to take to dry. So if the back of the can says 1 hour it will now take at least 2 to 3 hours to dry-cure...Also keep in mind the topcoat will take longer to cure approximately 7 to 10 days and in some instances even longer....good luck

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:29 AM.