This may seem trivial, but is frustrating me. How do you ensure an even second and third coat over matte white paint? Other than a few brush marks here and there, you can't see the fresh paint from the dry. Changing the lighting conditions doesn't seem to help. This is such a common scenario that there just must be a painter's trick.


3 Answers 3


There's paint on sale in the UK that dries white but goes on pink. The big brand version is called Dulux magic. I haven't tried it because even painting white on white, the wet has a different sheen to the dry. Combined with being methodical this is enough. There are also cheaper brands.

  • This is just the ticket.
    – Paul Uszak
    Mar 18, 2016 at 12:35

Depending on the tools to apply the paint there are slight noticeable marks left by each tool. The paint, no matter what type of sheen it is made of, will always have a wet or shine to the initial coat until it dries. If you apply the paint by always keeping a "wet edge" and paint in a orderly consecutive fashion it shouldn't be difficult to count the coats of paint applied.

  • Err, what's a "wet edge"? A tool?
    – Paul Uszak
    Mar 18, 2016 at 0:00
  • 1
    When you keep a wet edge, it means you are overlapping paint that was very recently applied and is still wet, so the transition will flow out smoothly. The opposite is when you are painting to an edge that has already partially dried and is tacking up, the weird emulsion of wet and half-dried paint won't flow out properly and will be ugly. An example of a really bad paint strategy is "like a clock face" - as you finish at 11:59 you'll run into your oldest paint that you applied at 12:01. Mar 18, 2016 at 0:33
  • @Paul Uszak- Sorry, but the "wet edge" is the leading edge of wet paint that has just been applied. If you are rolling a wall and lift your roller off the wall to reload it the wet edge is where the just applied paint and about to be painted boarder are. If you let that edge dry before applying more paint there is a chance that edge will be noticeable.
    – ojait
    Mar 19, 2016 at 1:48

I agree with ojait, the wetness sheen is your indicator. If you have to stop then put a piece of tape on the baseboard (with an arrow if needed) to remind you where you stopped & in what direction to proceed. Painting in single roller width strips is the right way to paint. You want an I "pattern" & not an N, M, V or W to then fill-in the blanks, the wall will be very uneven.

Also, substantially lowering the light level will take the glare away & help you see the wetness sheen & even a slight dryness sheen for paint that has dried but not yet cured. You can also periodically use a flashlight or turn off the room's light & put a lamp against the wall that you're painting to magnify the wet paint or wet edge.

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