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A Family Tradition of Excellence

A Family Tradition of Excellence

One Coat Paint vs. Two Coats Paint – How to Choose

One of the biggest debates in the paint contracting world is whether to provide one coat or two coats of paint to the exterior of a house. In my 25 years plus experience in the paint business, I have found the number of paint coats depends on the current color, the color selection (for the new paint job), the age of the house and how long the customer wants the paint job to last.

The “Bare Minimum” Paint Job: Typically when the exterior of a house is in outstanding shape, the paint color is remaining the same, and the previous paint job was recent and has remained in good condition, then paint contractors can recommend spot priming the house and applying one top coat. This is the ONLY time I would ever recommend spot priming and one coating the exterior of a house.

The “Two Coat” Paint Job: Normally when it has been several years since the exterior of a house has been painted or customers are changing colors then we recommend two coats of paint. First, apply one coat of primer that is tinted to the finish color and one top coat. However, if the customer has a dark color selection (Dark green, dark brown, etc.) and we cannot tint the primer color close enough to top coat color then we recommend to spot prime peeling areas and apply two finish coats.

The “Best of the Best” Paint Job: When a customer is looking for a long-lasting paint job or switching from a dark color to a light color (Black to white) then we recommend one primer coat and two top coats. First, apply one coat of primer that is tinted to the finish color and then apply two top coats.

In general, we always recommend at least two coats of paint for the exterior of the house. Two coats will provide proper paint coverage and durability for your money. Normally, most of your paint costs are invested in proper painting preparation, which is why it is extremely important to ensure that the contractor you hire takes the time and effort to thoroughly prepare your house before painting. Customers often think it is just about the paint, however, if a house is not properly prepped then the paint job may not turn out as dreamed.


  1. john smith on January 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Hello, I’ve gotten 2 different quotes for exterior painting I’m in MA (essentially the same price)
    1) spot prime + 2 finish coats
    2) full prime + 1 finish coat

    which is better?

    • O'Connor's Painting Service on January 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks for the question. Here is what O’Connor’s Painting Service would recommend:
      Normally on a house painted with a light-base color we prefer option 2, 1 coat primer (tinted to the finish color) and 1 top coat.
      If your house is painted in a deep-base color such as red we would recommend your option 1, spot prime and 2 finish coats.
      If you are in the Boston area, LeBlanc Painting is a top notch painter we would highly recommend. Good luck with your project!

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