Does paint get darker with second coat?

Does paint get darker with second coat?

When it comes to DIY home improvement, painting is one of the best ways to spruce up your interiors.

But, if you’ve just finished applying the first coat and it doesn’t look as dark as you expected, you’re probably wondering whether the paint will get darker with the second coat.

It’s a common question, and I wanted to clear things up to save you from any panic and stress about how your paint finish may appear when you finish. And after being a professional painter and decorator for years now, I think I’m well-versed in discussing the topic.

In this article, I will tell you whether adding another coat will make your paints darker. Also, I look at whether paint becomes darker or lighter as it dries and how long it takes for paint to dry and become its actual shade. And I will delve into what affects the appearance of your final finish.

Let’s jump in!

Will a second coat make paint darker?

When you add a second coat of paint to your surface, the final finish will look darker.

The second coat will make the finish look darker because when you add more paint, you add more pigment to the surface. The more pigments in the finish, the less light can pass through the paint film. As a result, the final colour will appear darker.

Also, when the second coat of paint is applied, you will cover any spots and streaks you missed when painting the thin first coat. The more coverage you get, the more even and richer the finish will appear.

Finally, paint brands make paints to render the final colour after two coats. So, a second paint coat will make the finish look darker and more intense.

Think of adding multiple coats of paint to your wall as adding an extra shot of espresso to your morning coffee – adding more intensity to your coffee – and your paint colours!

A female painter and decorator standing in front of painted wall waiting for it to dry

Does paint get darker as it dries?

Your paint will typically darken as it dries. In particular, oil, acrylic, and latex paints will appear darker when the paint dries completely. And you’ll find this pattern is the same regardless of the brand of paint you use – whether it’s Dulux, Farrow & Ball, or Little Greene.

That’s because when you apply a wet coat of paint to your walls, it will reflect more light than when it is dry. That’s why wet paint looks lighter than dry paint in a room.

Also, after you apply the paint, the binders evaporate, giving the final finish a deeper appearance.

The final paint colour of your finish should match the paint swatch. But if you’d like to test how your paint will look before you paint, you can patch-test your wall.

Dripping paint brush held in the hand of a painter and decorator

How long does paint take to dry to final colour?

The time you’ll have to wait for your painted surfaces to dry to their final colour tone depends on various factors. These factors include the type of paint you use, the paint colour, and how well-ventilated your room is.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail:

Paint type

The type of paint you use will impact the time it takes for the paint to dry to its final colour.

Because different paint types contain different ingredients, the time it takes them to dry to their actual colour will vary.

Here’s how long each type of paint will take to dry to its final colour:

  • Water-based paints (includes acrylic paints and latex paint): 1-2 hours to dry
  • Oil-based paints: 6-8 hours to dry
  • Textured paint: 2-4 hours to dry

Paint colour

Believe it or not, the shade of your paint actually affects how long it takes to dry to its final colour.

Darker paint colours will take longer to dry to their final colour after painting compared to lighter-looking colours.

That’s because dark paint colours contain more pigments than lighter paints, which take longer to evaporate.


How well you ventilate your room after painting impacts how long it takes for your paint to dry to its final colour.

So, if you want your paint colours to dry as quickly as possible, keep your windows and doors open.

That’s why whenever I (or any of my painters in South London) paint a house, I always make sure to leave the rooms very well-ventilated to ensure the paint dries as quickly as possible and the smell of paint fumes disappears quickly.

Paint roller rolling second coat of green paint onto a wall

How many coats of paint does it take to change colour?

As a general rule of thumb, you need two coats of paint to change the paint colour of your surfaces. So, it’s always a good idea to apply another coat of paint.

But make sure you allow the first coat to dry. Because if you apply the second coat too soon, you’ll run into all sorts of problems.

Think of adding an additional coat of paint as building a layer of flavour when cooking – just like when you add additional ingredients, applying a second coat of paint will intensify the paint colour.

The specific number of coats your interior surfaces will need depends on various factors, including:

  • Colour change: Generally, the more drastic the colour change, the more paint you’ll need. For example, if you want to change the colour of your walls from black to white, you’ll typically need a primer undercoat and two top coats of paint. On the other hand, if you keep the colour the same, one coat of paint might suffice.
  • Paint quality: The better the paint quality, the fewer coats of paint you’ll need to achieve the desired results. That’s because more expensive paint contains more pigment, so you’ll need fewer coats. That’s why any good painter will tell you to AVOID cheap paint – as it will cost you more time and money when it comes time to paint.
  • Type of surface: Porous surfaces (like fresh plaster) usually require more coats of paint than smooth surfaces. That’s because porous surfaces will absorb more paint, so you need more coats to get good coverage.

You probably want to complete your paint job as quickly as possible. I get it!

The good news is that the second coat of paint typically requires less paint and time to apply. But ensuring you add enough coats of paint will make the difference between a DIY disaster and your dream finish.

So be patient and apply as many coats as necessary to save you from repainting quickly again.

What factors affect the appearance of paint?

There are various factors that affect the appearance of your paint, including the type of paint you use and the paint finish.

Let’s see how:

Type of paint

As we mentioned earlier, there are various types of paint. Not only will using different types of paint affect how long it takes to dry after application, but it will also affect the overall finish.

For example, water-based paints tend to have little sheen but will remain consistent in appearance over time. On the other hand, oil-based paints tend to have more sheen than water-based paints but typically fade quite a bit over time.

Paint finish

Paint finish refers to the level of sheen (or shine) in your final paint finish. The type of paint finish you choose will affect how your rooms look when you finish painting.

Here are the different types of paint finishes in order of least sheen to most (and how it looks when applied):

  • Flat or Matte: Has a smooth or velvety appearance – with next to no shine.
  • Eggshell: Eggshell paint finishes have a little shine to them. An eggshell finish is appropriately named as the finish appears similar to an eggshell.
  • Satin: Satin paint finishes have a silky and soft appearance with some shine.
  • Semi-gloss: Semi-gloss finishes have a noticeable shine – similar to a polished apple.
  • Gloss: Gloss finishes have the highest amount of sheen – similar to a mirror-like surface.

Before you choose a paint finish, you need to think about the type of surface or room you are painting in your house. For example, you might want to use a higher sheen paint when covering your bathroom or kitchen walls than your dining room.