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Painting: how do you cover dark colours?

Last modified: 2021-08-06 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

New year, new you! As the old saying goes, at the start of the year many homeowners change various aspects of their life in favour of adopting new tastes and styles. This is often reflected in our home decor, as trends quickly evolve. When it comes to the colour of your walls, you may have wanted deep mahogany last year to create rustic decor.

Now, you might be looking for something clean and modern. But how do you paint to cover a dark colour with a light one? We’re here to help solve this modern dilemma in this informative article!

Here’s how to paint over dark colours

Getting started


source: unsplash

If you’ve attempted this project before, you're likely aware that dark colours can easily seep through when trying to paint over them with light colours. It may not be noticeable when you’re painting, but once the wall dries you could see a bleed through. This is why preparing the surface is of the utmost importance. Specifically, you’ll need to pick up a primer with stain-blocking capabilities.

You’ll want to begin by measuring the area that you intend on covering, as this will allow you to determine how much paint and primer are needed for the job. This can be done by multiplying the length times the width of your wall, allowing for the total square footage of the space. Divide this total based on the coverage area of your primer and new paint. This coverage area will vary from product to product, so make sure to arrive at your local hardware store with all of the measurements.

Now, let’s begin to think about what we’ll need and gather the materials and products for this project. The essentials are as follows:

  • Cloth or sponge
  • Bowl of soap and water
  • Paint scraper
  • Wet-dry sandpaper
  • Mineral oil
  • Painters caulk
  • Spackling and a spackling knife
  • Paint and primer
  • Brushes
  • Rollers
  • Paint tray

After picking up your primer as well as paint, clean the area by sweeping away any dust or debris in the corners of the room as well as around the floors. If walls have been stained or appear soiled in any way, it's crucial to clean them before applying a new coat of primer or paint. If you're washing them, make sure they dry completely before moving onto the next step.

Next and before opening the cans of primer and paint, move all of your furniture into the center or outside of the room. Cover the floor with clothes, rags, or a drop cloth to avoid drips finding their way onto other surfaces. Also, don’t forget to remove anything protruding or stuck on, including nails, hooks, or outlet covers.

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Preparing the surface of your walls for painting

Now, depending on the conditions of your walls, you may need to begin by removing traces of old paint, particularly anything that's peeling or flaking. This will need to be done carefully with a paint scraper. Also, look for rough patches on the wall, and using fine-grit sandpaper, smooth them down. If you find dents in the walls, including nail holes, fill them in with spackling.

Remember, if you're completing any of these jobs, the walls should be washed once again. This is because sandpaper will leave small traces of dust and grit behind, easily compromising the quality of your new coats of primer and paint.

For seams around window and door frames or other gaps in the surface, use a small amount of painter's caulk. To apply this, hold the caulking gun on an angle and follow the seam moving downwards towards your floors. Make sure to squeeze the gun gently, and using a wet finger, smooth out the caulk every two feet.

Keep a damp cloth and a bowl of water close by and wipe away any excess. Make sure to do all gaps before picking up that paintbrush. Also, allow the caulk to dry completely before moving on. Worth mentioning is that in some cases it won't be necessary to complete this step, but it will offer your walls a well-rounded finish!

Do you wish to apply a bright colour to your wall, but you're not sure it's the right decision? Check out our article Expectation vs Reality: painting an interior with bright colours.

Applying prime and paint

Salle à manger murs blancs

source: unsplash

We recommend using a little bit of the new paint to lightly tint your primer. This will offer you better coverage over the dark paint beneath. Pour some of the primer into a paint tray and using a tapered brush, start with the perimeter of the wall you're covering. The brush should be used for areas of the wall that are awkward to reach or that you can’t go over with a roller.

Once the corners and hard-to-reach areas are done, switch to a roller that suits the needs of your walls, either smooth or textured. Roll the primer evenly over walls, moving back and forth in a grid pattern for best results. Allow the primer to fully dry before applying your newly chosen paint. Follow the same methods for applying paint to all areas of the wall, applying two coats of paint to aptly cover your outdated, dark colour.

Of course, now the waiting begins. Wait for your paint to dry to make sure you've evenly covered your walls. Sometimes during the process of painting, it can be hard to know if we've done enough. Before moving all your furniture back into place, take the time to allow things to dry just in case you've got to apply one final coat!


Test our cost estimator which calculates according to the room dimension and the number of colours.

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