I am using Sherwin Williams Cashmere paint in my finished basement. The prior owner painted this god-awful flat baby blue paint that has a lot of stains from contact and glues and other things.

The new color I am painting is called "Obstinate Orange". It is a very bright color that will bring more light to the room. I have already done a section where I did one layer of primer before painting.

Unfortunately it took 3 layers of the orange because it is so thin of a color (not a lot of solids/tints in the paint due to the specific color).

Would it be advantageous to do two coats of the white primer I am using? This is the first time I have ever had to use primer as all the other colors were thick enough to go on just fine with two coats on their own (and come with primer in them).

2 Answers 2


First, make sure you are adequately preparing the old surface with an aggressive cleanser made for removing oils and other contaminants, painting over them will not work. The cleaning will remove some of the ugly markings.

Bright (high saturation) colors do not add more light to the room (snow white does). Bright colors bring lots of that color into the room and suppress other colors. That is the reason "pastels" (near-whites) are so popular. Although yes, many of them are tiring.

Anytime you cover a bright or dark color with a pastel/white, or the other way 'round, you need a lot of pigment. The problem is, lead and heavy metal based pigments were outlawed, wiping out the best choices for certain pigments, including yellow, orange and red. The organic pigments that remain do not compare. Hence the difficulty of coverage.

The upshot is 3 coats to get your coverage is not surprising.

It helps to prime, so your topcoat is working on a consistent surface. Otherwise differences in the surface will print through, (imagine painting a zebra) and you will need more topcoats.

Tinting the primer can help, as can using a darker primer.

  • The more I think about it the more I realize that I will probably still have to do the same amount of work. If I do one coat of primer it will need three coats of the orange. If I do two coats of primer then I will probably still need two coats of the orange. Either way I need to do the job 4 times no matter what I select. I guess the primary benefit would be a more even look when I use an extra coat of primer.
    – Patrick
    Dec 21, 2017 at 15:17
  • 1
    @pthurmond welcome to my world. This is the burden of using bold colors (that aren't toxic). But a job well done feels good! Dec 21, 2017 at 17:03
  • Or use thin colors that don't include a primer mixed in.
    – Patrick
    Dec 21, 2017 at 17:05
  • I ended up doing two coats of primer. Though it is still requiring 3 coats of the paint to look right. So that sucks. Room looks pretty good though. Once I get done with the additional layer I might post a picture somewhere.
    – Patrick
    Jan 2, 2018 at 20:39

The best thing to do is have the primer tinted close to the paint color you are using. For a bright orange paint, the best they can do is probably a pastel sherbet orange color for the primer, but that will still be better than just plain white.

Primer tends to cover well, because thats what many people use it for, and it also tends to be a little cheaper than paint. Use as many coats of primer as needed to completely cover the base coat before starting with the final color paint.

Another point - some colors cover better than others because of the pigment used. Colors in the red family (including orange) tend to have very bad coverage. Blues and browns cover much better, so you may not have as much trouble with other colors. In your case I would strongly recommend taking the primer back and having it tinted. Many places will do this for free - for instance, at Home Depot they don't even have a way to charge you for it if they wanted to.

  • I should add that I am able to get this paint below cost for the store because my uncle has a big painting business and I get to use his discount. This makes me a special case in terms of cost. I know the discount only applies to certain items. Not sure if it applies to primer. Thank you for your input!
    – Patrick
    Dec 18, 2017 at 18:40
  • That's certainly a consideration, but at some point, cheaper in dollars just doesn't make up for the time and trouble of extra coats. If you are making multiple coats, another point is that drying time between coats can slightly affect coverage. If you do a second coat too soon it can re-wet or mix with the first layer which reduces overall coverage.
    – JPhi1618
    Dec 18, 2017 at 18:43
  • I will admit, I did not know that tinting the primer was even an option.
    – Patrick
    Dec 18, 2017 at 19:06

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