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I am painting a small bathroom with Sandstone paint that I bought in Lowe's (for non-US users, this is big chain of home improvement/remodeling stores).

The result is just terrible. First, it requires multiple passes just to hide the white base ($50/can, and I am finishing a second can. $100 just to paint a small bathroom is rather excessive). Second, I can't get the paint to lay uniformly on the wall: sand (the aggregate in the paint) ends up as big, visible build-ups on the wall.

What am I doing wrong and how do I do it right?

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Maybe it's you, or maybe it's just crap! I wouldn't buy any architectural coating product in a home improvement store. First stop would be Sherwin Williams. Even some of the acrylic latex paint from places like Home Depot is just awful. Six coats later, it's still not hiding and you're out of paint, and tired from pushing so hard to get it to flow. –  Kaz Jun 14 '13 at 21:00

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I can't comment on the sandstone paint, but I'd suggest getting the primer tinted something close to the final color so that you're not using the expensive paint try to cover a white base.

I'd also follow Kaz's advice above regarding quality paints. You usually do get what you pay for.

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