Deep turquoise accent wall in boho-style bedroom

Whether you’re changing paint colors from light to dark or dark to light, it’s important to prepare the wall with primer before you introduce a new color. No matter how many coats of paint you apply, if the difference in color is too drastic, your color results will be less than optimal.

Related Blog Post: See In My Own Style's take on Painting Neutral Over Bright Walls

  • Step 1: Choose Quality Paint

    painting red walls yellow

    Using quality paint is as important as choosing the right color. Better-quality paints provide better coverage, are more durable and are easier and quicker to apply (fewer paint runs and drips, and fewer coats).

    On interior surfaces, use True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Paint. Your local True Value hardware store’s Certified Color Experts® can answer questions you have about paint and paint color and provide advice on how to paint light over dark or vice versa. While you're there, you can pick up a Custom Mixed Color Sample to try a few colors on your walls at home. Color samples allow you to paint a small space and live with different options for a few days before making your decision. You can also pick up Idea Cards, which have predetermined palettes ready for you; Trend Cards for the latest colors; or Stripe Cards, which show various shades of the same color.

    You can also experiment online with True Value's interactive Color Visualizer. There you can preview how colors will look before you paint by changing paint colors and furniture to reflect different moods. Our Color Selection Tool features a color wheel with every color in the True Value® paint palette.

    When painting the exterior of your home, use an exterior latex paint such as True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint If you will be painting masonry, such as brick, concrete or stucco, paint with True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Masonry/Stucco Paint. If you have wood siding on your home, use a latex paint such as True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint.

    Once you've decided what colors you are going to use, you'll need to know how much to buy. When estimating, a good rule of thumb is to multiply the length of each surface by its height and add another 30 percent for good measure. Typically, one gallon of paint will cover 400 square feet. Buy more than you think you need; you can always use the extra for touch-ups.

    Helpful Tip

    Use the True Value paint calculator to estimate how much paint you need.

  • Step 2: Choose Quality Primer

    If you’re drastically changing color, you MUST use a primer for your desired results. A primer is a special type of paint that goes on before the finish coat of paint. Primers lay the foundation of your paint job and can be used on wood, metal, drywall and concrete. Whether you're painting interior or exterior surfaces, primers ensure that the painting surface has an ideal, uniform texture (slightly coarse) so that paint adheres effectively. In addition, primers cover up existing paint, as if you’re starting from scratch. They also seal up porous surfaces and prevent stains.

    Primers are formulated for interior surfaces, exterior surfaces, metals and in particular tints. Interior primer seals, increases adhesion and creates a uniform surface for walls. Exterior primers minimize cracking and mildew growth, and protect masonry surfaces from alkalinity and efflorescence. Exterior primers come in specific formulas for use on wood, masonry or metal. Metal primers provide a tight bond between the surface and topcoat and inhibit corrosion.

    It is recommended that you use a quality latex primer, such as True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer or True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Primer/Sealer, before any indoor or outdoor paint project.

    Helpful Tip

    Tint your primer to match as close as possible the color that you’re going to be painting. Tinted primers improve the end result of your painting project; they work with the finish coat color to boost color accents for a better-looking job. Ask a Certified Color Expert at your local True Value hardware store for tinting help. They can do it for you in the store.

  • Step 3: Prepare Before Priming

    Scotch blue painters tape

    Wall or surface preparation is the most important step in a successful paint project. To prepare for painting indoors, remove furniture from the room in which you're working or place it in the center of the room and cover it with drop cloths. Place drop cloths or tarps on the floor and remove fixtures, window coverings, switch plates and outlet covers. Use painter's tape to protect windowsills, baseboards, door hinges, the ceiling perimeter and anything else that you don't want to get paint on. Paint doesn't adhere to dirt or damaged areas. Using a sponge or cloth, wipe down your interior walls with mild detergent and water and allow it to dry. If walls have cracks, holes or other damage, apply spackling compound with a putty knife. Once it dries, sand with fine-grit sandpaper.

    In order to prepare for painting outside, use drop cloths to cover cars, patio furniture, shrubs and anything else you don't want splattered. Although you're painting outside, it's a good idea to cover the ground so you don't get paint on walkways, driveways, or in your yard. Remove all screens, light fixtures, plumbing outlets, electrical covers, shutters and address numbers/placards or cover them with painter's tape before you begin painting. Remove peeling or flaking paint by sanding and scraping it off. Scrape first using a large scraper, then rent or buy a disc sander. Begin sanding with a coarse abrasive and then finish with a fine one. It's particularly important to smooth the edges between the painted and scraped areas because painting will accentuate any ridges and edges left behind.

    Safety Alerts!

    If your home was built before 1978, test the surface with a lead testing kit to determine whether it contains any lead-based paint. Lead poses a serious health hazard, especially to children and pregnant women. To protect yourself and your family, avoid scraping or sanding lead-based paint.

    When using a ladder to reach high areas, invest in an adjustable ladder stabilizer that attaches to the ladder and braces onto the roof.

    Remove any dirt and eliminate mildew by washing surfaces with a mixture of water, trisodium phosphate (TSP) and bleach with a long-handled brush. Then thoroughly spray surfaces with a pressure washer loaded with a mild detergent. Let everything dry completely before you start painting. When cleaning stucco homes, or if the surface is chalky or crumbly after cleaning, also apply a masonry surface conditioner.

    Safety Alert!

    Use TSP as directed by the manufacturer. TSP can corrode metal and damage finished wood. Be sure to wear protective goggles, clothing and rubber gloves.

    Use an exterior spackling compound to repair any holes or damaged areas. With wood, it's also important to caulk joints and cracks in areas such as trim and window frames using paintable caulk. Use an old screwdriver to scrape out any old caulk and clean the joint using a small brush. Apply paintable caulk with a caulking tool.

  • Step 4: Prime

    paint brush

    Applying primer is done pretty much the same way as paint. Priming doesn't require as much care as painting, but you'll use the same technique. For interior rooms, start with your paintbrush bristles coated with 1" of paint to do wall brushwork in areas a roller can't reach, like the corners and next to the doors, windows and molding, and around fixtures. Then use a roller applicator to paint the main part of the wall, moving in 6'-square sections, use a series of overlapping "W" strokes from right to left, then back from left to right. Spread the primer evenly using vertical strokes. Continue in 6'-square sections until the entire surface is primed.

    Safety Alert!

    Primers and paints can give off fumes that can be hazardous if exposed to for extended durations. Be sure your workspace is well-ventilated. Open windows and/or use fans to circulate the air or draw it outside.

    Helpful Tips

    Apply a second coat of primer when you’re going from one extreme color to the other, especially if you’re going from dark to light. Wait for the first coat to dry and then repeat the same process a second time.

    Don't wait too long after priming to apply the finishing coat of paint. Check the instructions on the can of primer to determine how quickly you should start painting once it has completely dried.

    Outside, apply a high-quality primer formulated for outdoor use with a roller applicator and extension pole. This will seal porous surface material so the topcoat won't soak in and dry unevenly, and helps prevent peeling, rusting and bleed-through (especially on wood and concrete). Follow the "top-down" rule — work from the top of your house to the bottom to get the most even coverage.

    Helpful Tips

    Use ladder mitts to prevent paint from scraping off. Another useful product is a pot hook, which allows you to hang the paint bucket from your ladder for easy access.

    Avoid ridges and lap marks on a flat surface by always stroking into the wet paint, never away from it. As you finish painting one area and move on to the next, blend each new stroke of the brush toward the wet paint previously applied so the layers blend evenly.

  • Step 5: Paint

    True Value EasyCare® PLATINUM paint and primer in-one

    As you did with the primer, start by cutting in from the ceiling and corners and other areas you can’t reach with your roller. Paint next to doors, windows and molding and around fixtures. Next coat your roller with paint in a paint tray and start painting the main part of the wall widthwise in 6-ft. square sections, using a zigzag pattern of overlapping W strokes. Move from right to left, then left to right, spreading evenly with vertical strokes.

    Feather (apply less pressure to) the edges of the squares to eliminate overlapping lines between each section. If your paint has a flat finish, you don't need to blend. Otherwise, go over the entire surface (for very large areas, do two square sections at a time) with one-directional, overlapping, non-diagonal strokes once again. If necessary, apply a second coat of paint using the same technique as the first. You don't have to let the paint completely dry between coats, but your results will be better the longer you wait.

    Outside, use a roller or sprayer to apply True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Exterior Paint. Again, follow the top-down rule — work from the top of your house to the bottom to get the most even coverage. Finish with the trim. When you're done, go over the paint surface with a roller to balance coverage. Use paintbrushes for windows, trim, cracks and crevices. Use two coats for optimal results.

  • Step 6: Clean Up

    Thoroughly rinse your roller covers and brushes in water or paint thinner until it runs clear. then place them in a brush/roller spinner to remove excess liquid. Store in their protective sleeves or hang them on nails or hooks. Remove the drop cloths and pull off the painter's tape at a 45-degree angle to avoid removing any fresh paint.

    Safety Alert!

    If you use paint thinner to clean your brushes, do not throw the used paint thinner down the drain. Some states don't even allow it. Find out how and where you can dispose of it.

    You’re done! You’ve radically changed paint colors without much fuss.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.