How To Paint Over Dark Colors? (On Walls) 7 Helpful Tips

There is nothing more satisfying than a fresh coat of paint.  Painting a home is a great way to make your mark.  It also helps you to make your house really feel like yours.

But, paint does much more than just give you a sense of ownership.  Is your home filled with old wallpaper and out of date paint colors?
Nothing can spruce up a seemingly dated home like paint.  But, what do you do if you are faced with a really dark wall color to cover?

Here are the best ways to paint over dark colored walls to give your home a clean and fresh look!

We have all been there.  Trying to cover up that deep red wall that was once on trend.  Covering up dark walls is one of the hardest parts of redesigning a home.

Prime, Prime, and Prime Some More!

Paint walls over black paint

The secret to any great wall color is the primer you use.  However, it is important to remember that not all primers are created equal.

Primers are generally a whitewash of color that are meant to make your walls one solid color.  This way the color you choose will come out in its truest form.

But, can you use a primer over a dark wall?  Not only can you use a primer on a dark wall, you absolutely should!  If the wall you are trying to cover is very dark, it may take a few tries.

One way to set yourself up for success is to find a primer that specifically is meant for dark walls.

These will be extra opaque primers so that you can get your walls as white as possible in only a few coats.  Want to make your primer work as hard as possible?

One great tip is to give your walls a light sanding before priming.  This will not only help to dull the dark paint color but also give your wall some grit.

The paint will not stick as well to smooth walls.  Walls that are slightly rough are much better for applying paint.  Not only will the paint stick better, but it will also take fewer coats to make it opaque.

So when it comes to painting over dark walls remember these three simple steps; sand, prime, and paint!


Try It Out With A Test Run First

One of the first things you should when attempting to cover dark walls is run a test patch.

This will not only help you to choose the right color to cover but will also let you know how easy the area will be to paint. 

Best of all, doing a paint test on your wall is very inexpensive.

This is great news since paint and supplies do not come cheap.  The last thing you would want is to pour your money into expensive paints just to find it won’t work.  Most paint brands sell small bottles of paint for sample testing.  This should be enough paint to do multiple small test panels.

So, what is the best way to paint test your dark walls?  Start with the darkest wall you want to cover.  That will be the baseline for painting the rest of your home.

Sand and prime the area you are going to test.  Next, do two full coats of the paint on the primed area.

Make sure to let the paint completely dry between coats.

After both coats have dried, hold a light up to the wall.  If you still are able to see some of the old dark paint through, you may need to add more coats.  Add thin coats until you feel like the paint is completely covered.  Make sure to keep your coats even so it doesn’t add too much texture.

Keep track of how many coats worked best and use that as a guide for when you start to really paint!

Strip Your Walls

Sometimes you have to go back to basics in order to get the best results.  This is especially true when it comes to paints your home.

While you want to avoid stripping your walls, sometimes there are no other options out there!  There are many reasons why you may have to strip back to bare walls in order to cover dark paint colors.

The main reason is that there is simply too much paint already existing on the walls.  This is especially common in houses that are more than 50 years old.  It is also important to remember that wallpaper was all the rage back in those days.  So, chances are there are several layers of paint on top of an existing wallpaper panel.

The best way to approach this type of walls is to do so aggressively.

You will want to find a paint stripper that is specifically designed to remove tough paints like dark colors.

You will want to start in small sections using a combination of paint stripper and a small paint scraper.

Chip away at as much paint as you can.  The walls may not look pretty when you’re done, but that’s where sanding comes in!  After you removed as much paint as you can, follow up by sanding and priming the walls before paints.  Remember, the most important thing is your safety.  When working with chemicals it is important to have proper ventilation as well as protecting gear to protect your eyes and skin.


Consult Your Color Wheel!

Any art school graduate will tell you that the best way to cancel one color is to use another.  Colors are much like numbers and science in that there is a certain formula you can use to color correct.  The best way to do this is the check out the color wheel.

Colors that are opposite of each other on a color wheel are called contrasting colors.  Contrasting colors are colors that are the complete opposite of each other.  These are the best colors to use to cover up another.  Color correcting works on everything from painting to makeup and is an exact science.

So, how does it work?  You will first need to categorize the color on your wall.  This means that you will need to know if its more than just blue or green.  You will also have to recognize the undertone.  Both cool and warm undertones will change the type of contrasting color you will use.

Once you have the color and the undertone of the shade of your wall, find it on the color wheel.  Then find the color on the exact opposite side.  This will be your wall’s contrasting color!

For example, red covers blue while purple knocks out green.  However, keep in mind that you will have to be okay with a painting that wall this particular color.


Get Creative

Sometimes a dark wall is not worth the trouble of stripping, painting and stripping again.  This is where getting a little creative can come in handy.  This is also a great way to repurpose some items that you may have laying around your home.  Here are some of the most creative ways to spruce up a dark wall:

  • Pattern Stencil

Sometimes the problem with dark walls is that there isn’t any contrast.  Have one solid wall of dark paint can make a room feel lifeless.  One great way to add contrast without having to paint over the entire wall is to do some patterned stencil details.

The first thing you will want to do is find a complementary color to the color of your wall.  For example, if your wall is a deep purple, considering adding some pale yellow for contrast.  The best part about stencils is that you can be as bold or simplistic as you would like.  All it takes is a little bit of time, steady hands and some imagination!

  • Paneling

If you want to completely cover the dark wall without messing with re-painting, consider wood paneling.  Wood paneling has come a long way from the dated pine look that was popular in the 1970s.  Nowadays people use rich repurposed wood to give their homes a more rustic and charming feel.

All you will need to do is sand and size your wood panels and then anchor them using screw-in connectors.  After you attach the wood, you can design them however you want!

While some people choose to simply stain the wood, others have found more creative ways to achieve a bold look.  This is done by using paint colors to make a pattern with the panels. 

The end result will not only be a polished look but a beautifully designed accent wall in your home.


Wrapping It Up!

In the digital age, you no longer have to be afraid of tackling large projects like painting.  There are so many helpful tips and information out there to make the process smoother.  This is especially true when it comes to knowing how to properly paint over dark walls.

The best part about the paint is that it is changeable.

What was once on trend may now seem like a big painting mistake.  However, with the right patience and tools, you can easily transform that dark wall into something new and exciting.  So, hit the paint store and get inspired!

A fresh new room awaits you.  Good luck.

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