Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Painting Primer

I read the comments about red vs. gray primer when the final color is red. I really don't know the definitive answer, but I can tell you what we've learned over the last couple of days and last year.

The biggest lesson is: All red paint is not created equal.

We usually buy Behr paint from Home Depot. It's always performed flawlessly for us. It goes on smoothly, covers well, and wears great. Until this week.

Backtracking … Last year we painted DS#2's walls half red and half black.

We had absolutely no problems with either the red or the black. Two coats of each over a gray primer and we were done. This was Sherwin Williams paint, though, and I really can't remember why we bought SW instead of our usual Behr. I must've had a reason.

As you saw in Sunday's post, we used a pink-tinted primer for the dining room. Then we started painting using Behr "Ripe Currant." OMG. It was like we were using a glaze and not a paint. It was thin and runny and streaked like you wouldn't believe, and it wouldn't dry. I wish I had taken pictures, but I was too mad to even think about it. We thought there was something wrong with the paint so we made a mad-dash run to Home Depot Sunday night before they closed to trade what we thought was defective paint for a different can, same color.

While we were waiting for the new paint to be mixed, the lady at the paint counter starting telling us that we would probably need to paint up to EIGHT coats, waiting 24 hours between each coat. Huh?? We had painted DS's room last year in a very similar color and had zero problems. Even though we heard her, we still thought it was just a bad batch because we have been painting for years with no problems, including DS's red and black last year. But when we got back home and started in again and there was no improvement with this "new" paint, we started questioning everything.

Because we had no time or desire for painting over an 8-day spread, and after 2 days, 3 coats, and the primer, you could still see the primer and every roller stroke, we decided to throw in that towel and move on to Plan B.

Another mad-dash trip to Sherwin Williams yesterday before they closed at 6 PM. There, the salesman gave us a mini lesson in paint and bases. I had noticed that the paint we used for DS's room used a Red Base and the Behr paint for the dining room starts with a "deep base." Mr. Sherwin Williams explained that the dark colors which use a deep base (or Ultradeep in SW terms) do usually take more coats for coverage but he was as shocked as we were upon hearing the recommendation of EIGHT coats from Home Depot. It's got to do with the lack of white pigment (titanium dioxide) in the base for those deep colors. Titanium dioxide is what gives a paint hide and coverage. (He also explained that the color of the primer doesn't really matter for red, as long as it's either gray or tinted (pink). It's the primer itself which should be decent quality (ours is) so that it creates a favorable surface on the wall for the paint to adhere to it.)

So, here's the dining room now, after the SW paint. Any shading you see is from actual light/shade in the room, not paint streaks. Finally!

I'll be making another run to Home Depot later — to demand a refund or credit for that horrible paint. At over $27/gallon (we bought 2) plus the new paint from SW, it's too much money to just let go.


  1. Love the chair rail in your son's room! My friend's also had a horrible red paint experience. Your room is going to look amazing.

  2. Debbie we had a horrible experience with Behr paint years ago in our old house - painting a light green in our daughters room. Good quality primer - the paint just wouldn't stick. We have never used Behr again.

    When we painted our dining room red - below the chair rail - we used no new primer and 2 coats of SW red paint - looks great! Our neighbor is a painter and he said not to wash those walls for a couple of weeks though. Really give the paint time to cure otherwise it will come off on the rag. Since we were still in the middle or remodelling when we painted (walls first, then we took out carpet, then new flooring) there was a small bit of touch up!

    Your room looks great and so does the son's room. Enjoy :) g

  3. I had a similar awful experience with Behr paints and won't touch them now. I always have good luck with Sherwin Williams so that's my "go to" paint. The room looks great and I love your son't room!

  4. OMG your red looks so fabulous. I've never tried Behr, but I swear by both Sherwin Williams and what used to be American Heritage (now Valspar) at Lowes.
    My cousin did a Ralph Lauren deep red from Lowes, and had to do about 4 coats. UGH.

  5. we usually use behr paint too, but i used martha stewart's paint from sears for our red dining room -- did it in 2 coats! we used ralph lauren's suede paint in the living room -- bought 4 gallons, only needed 2! (i still have them and will re-paint the walls after i finish the trim).

    looks fab. i was told paint needs to 'cure' for a month before washing or wiping (or bumping with furniture).

  6. With as much paint as is now on these walls, I think we'll have to let it cure for about 10 years. ;-)

  7. Love that shade of read. Thanks for the tips. I know to go to SW now. Glad it's all figured out and hope they give you a refund.

  8. Love the red, it is a wonderful shade. I have heard some stories about Behr red paint. Get that money back and buy some fabric!!

  9. Thanks Debbie for validating my stand on SW paint to my DH - lol. He couldn't understand at one point when I had get my paint there. It isn't just the paint quality, but the time they take to explain what you need, why you need it, etc - like why your paint does or doesn't work! The dining room is looking wonderful by the way!

  10. I had almost the EXACT same experience at Home Depot with red paint. I had used red Behr paint before, no problems. But when I tried a different shade in a different room... it just would not cover. We stopped after 4 coats and bought a similar color of red from Benjamin Moore and one coat fixed it up.
    What REALLY made me mad was the Home Depot guy trying to tell me it was normal. I will never use Behr from Home Depot again. Only Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore.
    It will be fabulous, eventually!! Robin

  11. Debbie, I had the exact same problem with a deep burgundy Behr paint! I always buy Benjamin Moore but bought paint at HD one day because I was there. It was a nightmare because it would not cure. I spent many, many days scraping/sanding/stripping it all off, repriming and repainting with Benjamin Moore. Never again.

  12. We had the opposite experience when we painted my husbands office. We purchased, from Home Depot, a different brand of red paint and it was drippy and thin. We then bought a can of Behr and it was great. We have used Behr paint, including two different shades of red, in several rooms of our house and the shutters ourside and love it.

  13. Seeing as how I spent a hard day at work today actually working (hee), my eyes are just too exhausted to read all of your detailed post. I most definitely will remember to come back to it when I need it in the future, tho, because it looks like it has great info! :)

    Lovely red, tho, however you attained it!

  14. I just have to say that I love your son's room - fantastic colors!

    I haven't ever tried painting a room red, but I'll keep your tips in mind when I do!

  15. Love the red Debbie. Much better than that shocking pink. ;-) Great incentive to get the boys painting though. LOL!

  16. I always go with Benjamin Moore. It's funny, the last two houses I've moved into have had red dining rooms or hallways, which I painted over -- a red room makes me think of *redrum*. ;)

  17. Debbie, That is exactly the same experience we had with Behr red paint in my little powder room. We did 2 coats of primer and 5! coats of red. My DH has sworn off Behr paint after this. I am lucky it was a little powder room. Had it been a dining room your size, it would be a different color today. Good luck and keep us posted.

  18. we used lowe's paint for our breakfast room...bright red, semi gloss. we did two coats and it looks fab. when i get some time, i plan to paint part of hallway red and a deep indigo in the living room. i'll definitely stay away from home depot for that paint.

  19. we live in a new house now, so the painters painted it using colors I'd chosen. After trying to match and then make it work with their own paints, the pros finally went and bought the Ralph Lauren paint I'd given them a swatch for to paint my dining room red - it's the same room that shows up in all my "shot in the mirror pics" on PR.
    Using RL paint it took 2 coats after primer on new drywall, but it sure does look great.
    They swore at me though and said next dining room they had to paint red with white trim they were charging a huge Upcharge for.


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