Today April writes:

Dear Diva, I bought this beautiful color of red paint for my dining room and after painting two coats on the wall it looks nothing like the sample! It’s an ugly pinkish hue!  What happened? I’m not a newbie but this is my first dark color. Did I buy bad paint or something? Should I have sprung for the paint and primer in one combo? Please help!

April, unless the paint you purchased was old or exposed to extreme temperatures, you probably did not buy ‘bad’ paint. What you’re describing sounds like a common issue that a lot of people have with reds and other dark or pigment rich paint colors. That said, in order to rule out any other potential problems, I must ask if your paint is experiencing any of these  issues: Does the paint appear milky or glassy? Is there a noticeable chemical separation – that mixing will not get rid of? Is the paint cracking or peeling as soon as it dries? If your answer is yes to any of these issues and you have recently purchased the paint, take what is left in the can to the retailer and ask for a refund.

If your answer is no, then it’s most likely not the paint that is the issue. Which means you need to adjust your expectations. Depending on the original color of the wall, the new paint color, and the type of paint you are using, it could take a minimum of three coats to achieve the color you’re after. So don’t give up! It’s just going to take more work than you originally imagined, but you’ll get there!  I know this is most likely not the advice you were looking for and I’m sorry for that. But, it is the truth! The fact of the matter is that when you are dealing with a rich paint color like red, you have to apply more coats to get the desired results.

Think of painting a wall like decorating a cake. When you put white frosting on a chocolate cake, if the frosting isn’t thick enough the darkness of the chocolate cake shows through the frosting, affecting its color. So you compensate by applying more frosting until the color is consistent. Paint is the same way. If you haven’t applied enough coats, the paint isn’t thick enough, and the wall color underneath affects your end result.

How Many Coats Of Red Paint Are Needed

How this applies to your situation April, is that right now you can still see the cake underneath the frosting; i.e. the wall color underneath your red paint, which is why your walls are still an ugly pinkish hue. If your current color is close to the end result, then I wouldn’t worry about this and just continue on with the paint you’ve already purchased. Odds are you’ll achieve the color you are looking for in the next coat or two.

However if your color is still too far off, I’d consider going back and purchasing the paint and primer in one combo you mentioned above. Now it’s important to remember that some people would have you believe that a paint and primer in one combo could tackle this job in just one coat. Unfortunately this is not true. When it comes to darker pigment rich paint colors, it will still take two or three coats to get the job done.  Considering that you’ve already painted two coats on your wall and it is not even close to the color of the sample, it might be time to switch to a paint that is a little thicker and will coat the wall better. I hate to tell you to buy another paint product, but this may save you time in the long run. Not to mention that if the combo paint gets the job done in less coats, it might actually be cheaper because it requires less paint.

Whether you stick with it and apply more coats of paint or purchase a combo paint instead, in the end you’ll see the results you were hoping for. It’s just going to take a bit more elbow grease to get the job done!

Do you have questions about the selecting or the installation of: tile, carpet or wall treatments (window blinds, etc)? Then email me your tale of woe (diva(at) and perhaps I will be able to answer your questions right here at the Home Makeover Diva Blog!

Written by Amanda Hartley