How Do I Paint Over Painted Walls?

4 mystifying situations with simple solutions


This sounds simple enough. The wall was good enough to be painted once. It shouldn’t be all that difficult to paint it again. Let’s break down a few common cases.

I'm painting over a similar color

and it's in good condition

You probably don’t need a primer. If the current wall is smooth, clean and covered with the same type of paint (both are oil-based for example), you can head straight for the paint.

I'm painting over a similar color

but it's in bad condition

You need to fill holes, spackle and sand, maybe even cut a new piece of drywall in to the existing wall. Your best bet is to use a good layer of primer to ensure a smooth, consistent base layer for the colored paint. In this case, your primer will mask many of the imperfections you’re trying to fix.

The existing walls are painted with a latex-based paint

and I’m going to use an oil-based paint this time

You can use a primer in this case. Oil-based paint will not adhere to your existing latex paint layer, so you need to create a middleman of sorts. A thoroughly applied (2 coats is a good idea) primer will allow your new paint to bond to a new layer, which is specifically formulated to bond with your new paint.

The current paint is extremely dark/bright

but my new paint is the opposite shade

Assuming the wall is in good condition and the paints are chemically the same, you have a few options here. Great primer + paints exist now, which could be ideal for your situation. But you may want to compare prices and choose whichever option suits your budget.

Covering a bright color with an opposite shade will require multiple coats of new paint. It may make more sense to cover the old color in a primer, which is less expensive than your paint. This way, you will only need 1 to 2 coats of your actual color paint. The choice really comes down to what makes you (and your budget) comfortable.  

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